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Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.
Content marketing is focused not on selling, but on communicating with customers and prospects.
- 1891: August Oetker sold small packages of his Backin baking powder to households with recipes printed on the back. In 1911 he started publishing his very successful cookbook. It went through major updates over past 100 years and is one of the most successful cookbooks globally reaching 19 million printed copies. All recipes originated from the test kitchen of the Oetker company and the book was carefully written as a textbook to teach cooking from scratch. Oetker was very aware of the need for good marketing, practical communication and use of his doctor title to lend authority to his marketing.
- 1895: John Deere launched the magazine The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The magazine, considered the first custom publication, is still in circulation, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries in 12 different languages.
- 1900: Michelin developed the Michelin Guide, offering drivers information on auto maintenance, accommodations, and other travel tips. 35,000 copies were distributed for free in this first edition. Although Michelin eventually began selling these books, the publication still set a precedent for both informative guides and content marketing distribution.
- 1904: Jell-O salesmen went door-to-door, distributing their cookbook for free. Touting the dessert as a versatile food, the company saw its sales rise to over $1 million by 1906.
The phrase "content marketing" was used as early as 1996, when John F. Oppedahl led a roundtable for journalists at the American Society for Newspaper Editors. In 1998, Jerrell Jimerson held the title of "director of online and content marketing" at Netscape. In 1999, author Jeff Cannon wrote,“In content marketing, content is created to provide consumers with the information they seek.”
- John Deere: The Media Company (Video). Content Marketing Institute. 30 April 2012.
- "The Michelin Guide: 100 Editions and Over a Century of History". Michelin. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
- Content Marketing and the Power of Story (Video). Content Marketing Institute. 10 September 2011.
- Cannon, Jeff (1999), 'Make Your Website Work For You', pg. 45. McGraw Hill Professional, ISBN 978-0071352413