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Content Marketing – old wine in a new bottle

content-marketing-old-wine-in-a-new-bottle1-150x150Are you daunted by the term ‘content marketing‘? It’s the new buzzword  in marketing strategy and everyone’s talking about it. Do you wonder if you will ever understand content marketing strategy well enough to be able to use it to your advantage?

Well, the fact is that content marketing is vintage stuff! It has been around a long time – even as far back as the early 1900s. Surprised? It’s true – people have been marketing content for ages without knowing that it was content marketing that they were doing! I came across an interesting story that illustrates this.

How a Baby Book helped sell milk powder
A milk powder company called Defiance was having trouble selling milk powder. They first changed the name – Defiance was obviously not a suitable name for milk powder. Mr. Alec Nathan, the owner of the company, soon realised that he would have to win the trust of mothers to be able to sell the milk powder. He achieved this by bringing out a book on baby care in 1908, with the help of children’s physicians and nurses. The book addressed concerns of new mothers by giving tips on feeding and baby care. This helped sales tremendously and by 1914, the company became the established brand leader in Britain, and almost every mother knew about Glaxo. Yes, that company was Glaxo, and the book was ‘Glaxo Baby Book’! Ms. Kennedy, a qualified nurse, later revised the book and by 1922, more than a million copies were printed.

Build up prestige and goodwill and influence sales
All those years ago, Mr. Nathan understood what content marketing was and how to use it to his advantage! By delivering valuable information that educated and helped the buyer, he knew he could earn their trust and influence the sale of milk powder. Excerpts from his speech at an advertising conference summarise his approach to selling Glaxo – it’s  amazing how relevant this is even today.

“Advertising a baby food is about the easiest proposition. It is a human story that interests everyone. Advertising becomes just the simple question of telling this story in plain, easily understood words. Naturally there must be a good food that will substantiate the claims of the advertiser behind his story. …
…Advertisements of the right class should build up prestige and goodwill as well as influence immediate sales. The copy writer must always be conscious of the fact that his readers are existing purchasers, prospective purchasers and everyone and anyone allied, however remotely, to one or the other. …
Selling the advertised goods is an incident which follows naturally from his efforts if the standards and principles benefit humanity and they are adhered to and form part and parcel of the everyday business methods of the House.”

Content marketing lessons from the milk powder story
Mr. Nathan did it right.

  1. He knew who his target audience was. (Mothers and mothers-to-be)
  2. He knew the type of content that would touch the emotions of his target audience. (Baby care tips)
  3. He knew where his content needed to go. (Advertorials in the newspaper and even direct mail; digital marketing did not exist then, nor did social media!)
  4. He knew that good content would be shared. (Friends and relatives who got hold of the baby book would pass it on to new moms in the family circle)
  5. He knew that this useful information, by educating mothers, would build trust and translate into a purchase at some point.

Content marketing is not rocket science
So you see, there is no need to be daunted by content marketing – it is certainly not rocket science! But yes, as a strategy, it does require some careful planning. You must know what your goals are, who your target audience is, what kind of content will engage and encourage sharing and finally what platform you will use to distribute or publish it.

Are you ready for it? If you are doubtful, you could always take help and advice from a good content marketing agency to get you started right away!

sadhana_karnad_picSadhana Karnad is a research writer at Abhiyan, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. A website critic, she reviews Internet properties in terms of design and content. Reach Sadhana via LinkedIn.
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