The History of Content Marketing

In September, the Content Marketing Insitute released a new documentary explaining the story of the Content Marketing. As it is explained in it, since the very beginning of the history, the human being has been inventing different stories and tales in order to attract the attention of the ones surrounding them. The same happened with the brands and the business persons, who created different narrations so as to attract and retain customers. 

Even if Marketing has always been surrounding us, the history of Content Marketing has its first great example in 1895.  The Furrow  magazine is considered as the first example of Content Marekting, and it was created many years before the concept of Content Marketing first appeared. This publication was released by John Deere in 1895, and its main objective was not to increase their amount of sellings on John Deere equipment, but to teach the farmers new agriculture techniques and to educate them on other new technologies, in order to become more successful business owners. At first, the magazine combined advertising, articles and agricultural tips, however, as time has gone by, it has become much more visual. All in all, 120 years later, this publication is the most relevant agricultural magazine wordlwide, being delivered to nearly 2 million farmers in more than 40 countries. (Pulizzi, J., 2012) (Pulizzi, J., 2013) (Gardiner, K., 2013)

As Garrett Moon explains, one ot the most famous tire companies in the world, Michelin, published in 1900 a guide in order to help drivers to maintain their cars, covering basic maintenance, accomodations and other useful travel trips. As Emiliy Bauer clarifies, at the beginnig this guide was thought in order to increase the number of motorists in France, as in that epoch, the number of cars sold was quite small.Even if at first it was for free, it soon started to be sold. In fact, the company distributed 35,000 free copies even if by that time there were only 3,000 cars in the country! All in all, these guides soon expanded worldwide, offering guides from different countries.

Other Content Marketing strategy that worths being mentioned is the Jell-O recipe book. It was in 1904 when the famous jelly brand started distributing free recipe books, which were delivered door-to-door. Currently, as Emily Bauer explains, the brand is not  anymore following this method, but its famous recipe book is now on the net. Garret Moon also points out that before using this type of marketing, the brand was not famous at all, however, the distribution of the cookbook with original and innovative ways of using the product made the company see how the sales raised over $1 million dolars per year.

Retrieved from the Content Marketing Institute
Retrieved from the Content Marketing Institute

Even if all the cases mentioned before are the most famous examples related to Content Marketing strategies, is possible to find other cases. For example, everybody recognizes the logo of the mouse ears or the one of the castle. Disney have achieved to be recognized worldwide by people from every age following some steps, explained by John LeCoq: first of all, is relevant to add surprise to the business model, by not following the predetermined path (As Disney did with DisneyLand, for example) and not doing what is expected to do. Apart from that, Disney’s fame relies on the engagement with the customer, as the brand has not only told the stories from their films, but they have also told their own history. By this strategy, is possible to “engage with

Retrieved from

the customer on a human level” in order to involve them emotionally. Other step followed by Walt Disney’s company is to promote continuosly, and by doing this, whenever anyone thinks about going on holidays or to see a movie, in the majority of the cases, the first thing that comes to our mind is Disney. Building long-term, or lifetime, values is other strategy mentioned by LeCoq, because as he explains “Go to a Disney attraction today and find people who have been coming back for decades and many times at that. Disney keeps their customers so happy that they keep coming back, again and again.”. The last proposal given by the author suggest to be attentive, as the small details are what make the difference.


In her blog, Emily Cretella describes how, while she was on vacation with her family in Disney World, she realized that the best parts of the experience were due to the content produced by Disney. In her post she highlights 4 main points of Disney’s startegy:

  • The Customer Service: As she explains, when talking about marketing, people tend to focus on digital storytelling, but as she mentions, is important to consider all the ways the customer may experience their brand, so is important to be deal with every detail.

“Disney’s content marketing extends WAY beyond the visitor experience … which makes its visitor-centric content even more impressive. Here are a few of the ways Disney’s branded content impressed me at every touch point – to the extent that I’m seriously considering a second trip soon!”

  • Digital Content: Cretella points out that all the blogs from the different Disney parks narrates the trip or the adventure as if it was a newspaper narrating the events of a real city, as those blogs publish tips and official information, as well as other happenings. Besides the blogs, Disney Parks also have a strong presence on other social networks such as Youtube, Google+, Facebook or Twitter.
  • In-Person story telling: This point does not only include the well-known “theatrical storytelling”, because as she clarifies, “Disney World is filled with exceptional visitor-centric content – from wonderful printed brochures and materials, to television content and more”. One example given is “DME TV”, the video played during the trip from the airport to the park or hotel in the bus.

“DME TV provides both helpful tips for your upcoming trip, as well as short episodes from the Disney Park’s blog, cross-promoting their online channel. And on the way back to the airport at end of the trip, DME TV’s tips focus on planning your NEXT Disney trip. By the time I got off the bus, I was practically sold.”

  • Email & Direct Mail: Since the moment of the registration with the brand, emails are received. However, the author explains that instead of being similar to the spam other brands send, those emails were useful as it helped her to plan her holidays. Apart from the emails, they also received the “Magic Bands”, which are a wristbands that can be used as your hotel key, your park pass, your photo storage … even your credit card.

In order to summarize all the mentioned before, it could be said that, even if the concept of Content Marketing may seem new for many, the idea has been developed during decades by many famous brands, even if we were not conscious about the type of strategy the trademarks were following.


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