Today everyone seems to be talking about content marketing as if it were a brand new concept, just discovered as the way to reach new customers and build brand recognition. That simply isn’t so.
At least two companies were using content marketing in the late 1800’s.
Dr. Oetker: In 1891, Dr. August Oetker, working at his pharmacy in Bielefeld, Germany, developed Backin baking powder.
To communicate the superiority of this new innovation, he began using content marketing. The company published recipe booklets, printed recipes on packages, and ran newspaper advertisements with recipes – all designed to show housewives that with Backin, they’d get perfect results every time.
You may not have heard of the Dr. Oetker brand, but it can be seen internationally with a variety products ranging from baking mixes, to frozen pizza, to yogurts.
John Deere: I’m guessing you probably are familiar with this brand name, since their tractors, lawn mowers, etc. can be seen in every state, and their “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” ads appear on TV.
Although we do own John Deere equipment, I was unaware of the content marketing they began back in the late 1890’s – and are still using today.
It was then that they began to publish a magazine called The Furrow. It offered farmers “practical information devoted to the interests of better farming.”
While the magazine didn’t feature blatant ads for John Deere Products, the name was interspersed into editorial content meant to be informative and helpful. Articles ranged from the serious and scientific to the humorous, but all focused on a farmer’s life and challenges.
The magazine reached its peak readership in 1912, when more than 4 million consumers enjoyed its wit and wisdom. Today, The Furrow is still published, with an estimated readership of 2 million. Of course, today it is not merely a print publication – it can also be found on line.
Is Content Marketing the reason why John Deere is the largest tractor manufacturer in the U.S.?
I’m sure it’s not the only reason – quality, reliability, and customer service have played huge roles, but the name recognition gained through effective content marketing sure hasn’t hurt.
Why was their content marketing effective? Because:
- It addressed the farmers’ pain points and demonstrated that the company knew their customers.
- It focused on information farmers could actually use to improve the quality of their lives – and their production.
- It built a community by offering peer insights.
- It remained flexible over the years – both in content and in delivery methods.
- It focused on one specific niche: farmers.
- It displayed the company’s passion.
- It was consistent – always showing up on time, as expected.
- It established John Deere as the expert.
How can you and I use these methods in our own marketing?
Exactly the way John Deere did it – with just a simple change of customer focus. Instead of farmers, agents can focus on real estate buyers or sellers who want to accomplish their goals. Instead of farmers, I can focus on agents who want to grow their business.
Everyone offering a product or service has a target client with “pain points,” and a need for information that can improve their lives or their businesses.
We just need to think about how best to provide that information.
For more on John Deere and the lessons we can learn from this giant company, click here.