Stripped down to its nuts and bolts, content marketing is producing content and sharing it with an audience to drive brand engagement, educate and inform customers about products and services and (ultimately) influence buying decisions. Content marketing is also often referred to as brand storytelling or custom publishing. Content marketing includes:

  • Website articles
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • eBooks
  • Custom magazines
  • White papers
  • Social media content
  • How-to manuals
  • Videos.
Why Content Marketing?

We've become so accustomed to intrusive marketing - like television and radio adverts, direct mails and online banner adverts, for example - that, increasingly, we're tuning out to these traditional forms of advertising. Instead, people are actively seeking out content which informs, educates or entertains them. Good branded content, then, is an opportunity for brands to reach out to and engage with their audiences. High quality, genuinely useful and relevant branded content has the capacity to boost brand awareness, drive traffic and generate sales leads. Best of all, it costs a fraction of traditional advertising and marketing approaches like radio, TV and print advertising. 

Content Marketing Case Study: John Deere

Whilst content marketing is the buzzword of the moment, it's certainly nothing new. Some established brands have been using content marketing for close on 120 years. US farming equipment manufacturers, John Deere is a case in point. John Deere launched what's generally considered the world's very first custom magazine, The Furrow, back in 1895. The Furrow was designed, not as a sales pitch, but as a tool to help farmers be more successful businesspeople by educating them about the latest agricultural techniques and new-fangled equipment - in the process developing a relationship between them and John Deere and establishing the company as the industry authority. Through The Furrow, John Deere became the 'go-to guy'  when you needed help and advice and - oh, yes - equipment. Not only did The Furrow survive the onslaught of the age of advertising via mass broadcasting channels (radio advertising from the 1930s and TV advertising from the 1950s) but it grew from strength to strength, picking up more and more subscribers as time went by. The Furrow is still going strong - now a quarterly journal published, not only in North America, but in fourteen languages, including editions for the South American, UK, Australasian, South African and Russian markets. Today, The Furrow offers farmers and other agriculture industry stakeholders comprehensive content on current issues, farming techniques, product news, international features and articles of local interest. In addition to a print edition, readers can also choose to access the publication online or download a version optimised for tablets and eReaders. John Deere's The Furrow is proof of the long-term success and longevity of investing in a content marketing approach

Image courtesy of John Deere 

Want to know which other hot-shot brands have been at it for ages? Take a stroll through a brief history of content marketing