Public people and companies have been sharing their own stories for hundreds of years. One of the first may have probably been Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” in the US. Launched annually, between 1732 and 1758, it had a greater purpose: to promote his own business in printing and publishing. Considered as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States, Franklin was also an important publisher in the country. Another example is The Furrow magazine, created in 1895 by John Deere. In a way, these could be considered as pioneers in content marketing. Sort of…
The term “content marketing”, as it is known today, was still far from being created. The concept is recent, developed in the present century. And it has a primordial point linked, about which Franklin could not foresee at his time: content marketing is developed specifically to a brand’s target audience. Its emergence is linked to a strategy to provide something that traditional marketing couldn’t achieve: engage your audience directly. Let’s get to know in detail how this concept has grown over the last few decades.
The Evolution of content marketing
Content marketing had a long shot to grow vertically between the decades of 1960s and 1980s, as well portrayed on Mad Men. With television becoming a mass vehicle, organizations could take advantage of the number of people involved and publicize their brands in a positive way. However, unlike advertisements and TV commercials that released – and still do release – news for people, regardless of whether they were/are interested or not, the concept of this “new and modern marketing” is to capture people’s interest in a subtle way and not to be interruptive.
Ads during your favorite TV program or inside your favorite business magazine make you stop what you were doing. Interruption marketing lasted for decades with its “four Ps”: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. If you’re more than 30 years old, you must have received calls from a company interested in selling a product that you did not have the slightest interest in. Otherwise, lucky yours! You are probably an exception in this crazy market.
Marketing has experienced a love affair with mass communication for many years! E.g.: a certain product was released. It was then a matter of persuading people to buy it. Large media corporations held enormous power once companies made ads through their media outlets. That until people’s habits started to change. The advent of the internet and tech evolution – in addition to the digital inclusion – began to completely change this logic that has remained intact for such a long time.
The influence of the internet on content marketing
From the late 1990s and early 2000s, internet networks began to expand globally. Brands were now able to find their customers in a direct way, without depending on the field of communication media. Instead of investing in advertisements on third-party channels, companies saw the possibility of creating their own content, with relevance, using their own channels. It was no longer necessary to invest in communication media outlets, if the intention was merely that.
One of the most applied ways in content marketing became this one: blogs. Countless organizations have started to create their blogs for an unique reason. Its relevance is very clear. It’s one of the top channels to achieve customer loyalty through relevant content. But it’s far from being the only one. Companies began to position themselves in social media, using them as a way to release news to their customers. How about that as a way to reach your own target audience? Social media as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to target your content to whoever you want. Age, gender, interests, position etc. You can direct it to a certain group of people or to your followers.
The evolution of content marketing reached today the “eight Ps” – in addition to the four previously mentioned, include People, Processes, Positioning and Performance. You must take into account your audience. They cannot be separate ways, nowadays. The content should be relevant to the right audience. And it must be written / created by someone who has passion for the theme and understands it at the same time. With all these conditions met, we got the perfect content mix, as exposed in the diagram below, developed by Hotwire:
It’s remarkable the current number of people who no longer accept interruption marketing. We have a clear example of this: the emergence of the famous ad-blockers. They are browser extensions that filter content and ads, so that users do not have to go through this situation of trying to watch a video on YouTube, for example, and get interrupted by an advertisement every 10 min.
The emergence of content marketing was extremely positive. Both for brands and for people. The content can be targeted to the right personas, while people are no longer “bombed” by ads from all sides. On outdoor, TVs, radio, magazines etc.
The video below summarizes well the story and evolution of content marketing. In a metalinguistic way, in fact, since the video itself is also content marketing. Curious, right? Watch it, in case you’re interested in more details.