Content marketing have used by brands to establish a deeper connection with their customers even before the term ‘content marketing’ was coined. All they wanted to do was create a dialogue with their customers about things that they thought would be useful to them.
Here’s an interesting story about early content marketing. Have you ever heard the concept “Michelin star” in terms of food and wondered if that had any relation to the tire company?
Nowadays, the best restaurants around the world are judged by the number of Michelin stars they have. Way back in the early 1900s, Michelin Tire Company started publishing a guide, which gave the drivers extensive guidance on how to maintain their cars. As a bonus, this guide also gave suggestions about places to stay and eat when their customers hit the road.
Even after more than a century, restaurants across the globe compete with each other to find a place in the Michelin guide, which is how the Michelin star rating came to be the rating revered by so many of the food and beverage industry.
Many companies like Michelin, which took to content to connect with their existing and potential customers, are still reaping the benefits of their content strategy after decades of its initial implementation. Although, the costs were huge at the beginning and almost non-recoverable, these brands were ready to take long-term risks which paid off.
It is companies such as Michelin who set the tone, and the example, for the power of what we now know as content marketing.
Why content marketing works
For the longest time, companies believed that advertising and sales strategies would play fundamental roles in their growth. They failed to acknowledge that at some point sales-driven advertising would cease to attract new customers or retain old ones.
As a result, companies decided to emulate brands such as Michelin and began to leverage one of the most basic human needs, the need to connect. Brands started realizing that treating people merely as sales target was not working in their favour.
Human beings like being talked to, they like it when people understand them, the challenges they face, and the problems they have to deal with. Humans appreciate when the companies share with them their ideas and vision, and sometimes, even their failures. This thought paved way to a new marketing strategy, called content marketing.
Content marketing – then and now
Since its conception in the late 80s and 90s, various companies have resorted to content marketing as their primary marketing strategy. Brands learned how to genuinely connect with their customers through content and build a lasting bond with them.
But, this was not how content marketing was always perceived. During the initial surge in content marketing, almost every other company wanted to churn out content disguised as helpful resource to their customers. The content thus created often had poor quality and didn’t prove to be beneficial to the company.
It’s only in recent years that companies have learned how to create strong customer relations and maintain them through content. Content has made people view brands differently; not merely as brands, but as genuine people behind the brand names who are trying to help other humans through their products and services.