The power of unique, quality content used to support B2B marketing strategies has been self-evident as a way of capturing audiences for over a century. But since the Internet put the customer in charge, it is now mandatory that corporate marketing departments and their agencies think more like publishers than traditional marketers. (Scene from P&G’s Guiding Lightsoap opera at left)
One of the earliest examples of content marketing that we have found was an 1895 John Deere project where they published The Furrow magazine—a magazine still being published today. Deere was selling complex farm equipment with extended sales cycles. Deere recognized they could not sell until the farmer was ready to buy. The Furrowwas part of a longitudinal nurturing strategy to stay in touch and keep awareness high until the moment the farmer was ready for a new piece of equipment. They were ahead of their times.
For Procter & Gamble, marketing to consumers called for the same longitudinal presence so that every time a housewife was pulling products off the grocery shelf, they would pull a P & G brand. They created the soap opera, first on radio and then television. P&G even created its own radio soap opera shows in addition to the commercials touting their products. They built a production subsidiary in 1940 to produce radio programs and in 1950 produced the first network television soap opera. In all, P&G Productions created 20 soap operas on radio and television, becoming a pioneer in producing award-winning daytime serials like “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns”—which finally left the air in September, 2009. The time had come to shift from producing TV dramas. The primary audience of women were now working who were losing interest in their once favorite shows. It was time for P&G to change. Still, however, contextual content was the king of the hill. The P&G branding strategy shifted to new media with online informational educational content and social media.