The concept of using valuable information to attract leads is certainly not new, but is has evolved over the years. From the earliest expert editorial in a newspaper to the latest interactive piece of content designed to attract links, certain themes have carried through history as the most important aspects of content. Looking at the history of content marketing will help unlock that patterns that have worked for ages.
First off, lets define content marketing.
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. - http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/
Where it all started: Brand-sponsored magazines: As early as 1895, John Deere and other major brands were publishing magazines designed to inform the public and advertise the latest products. In an age before the internet and the digital revolution, magazines were the principle long-form method of content marketing.
What Happened Next: Radio: In 1922, Sears launched a dedicated radio program designed to help farmers and merchants through the day with news, facts, and information.
The First “Guest Post”: It’s a stretch, but when Hasbro and Marvel connected in the 1980′s to create the G.I. Joe series and toys, you could say it was the first example of brands coming together to achieve mutual goals. Marvel created the comics, Hasbro brought the toys, and together they made money.
Content Moves to the web (2004): In the late 1990′s big brands began to create content for the web. Notably, microsoft launched content blogs in 2004 and American Express launched the open forum in 2008, providing small businesses with free information and advice.
Sponsored Content/Native Ads (2011): In an effort to increase reach and not come across as spammy, brands began partnering with heavily trafficked sites to increase exposure without hindering image. Buzzfeed, Pinterest, Tumblr, and many others have experimented with these kinds of partnerships with varying degrees of success.
What Works: The example of content marketing through time have a few common threads that are key to a successful content campaign.
-Corporate Storytelling: From the original John Deere Magazine to the Marvel comic series G.I. Joe, storytelling has always been a pivotal part of content. Blurring the line between advertisement
-Don’t create content for the sake of content: Content marketing is not a game, or a mathematical formula based on the number of articles posted over a certain period of time. Content marketing is like running your own magazine, or newspaper; there must be a level of interest outside of the fact that you wrote something.
-Your content is often the first interaction with a customer: Make a good first impression. Don’t be overly aggressive or too passive.
-Content marketing changes form, but has been around for a long time: The recent hype around content marketing is just that, hype. The examples from the past 100 years show that strong articles produced steadily are the best form of content marketing one can do, don’t get caught up in the latest trend, be it article spinning, buying infographics, paying for guest posting, or anything else.