I love John Deere as much as the next Minnesotan, but as a content marketer, I am exhausted of hearing John Deere’s customer magazine used as the original content marketing example. Yes, The Furrow (publication started 1895) was a first of its kind, but was it the most interesting? There are plenty of other examples out there of companies using content marketing long before it became a “marketing must” – and some of those marketing materials were so good that they have evolved into their own products. Take the following two examples:
Guinness Book of World Records
Do you know what Europe’s fastest bird is? Well, that is the question that inspired the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, Sir Hugh Beaver, to create the Guinness Book of World Records in 1951. After his ego was wounded during a hunting trip, Beaver suggested he missed the golden plovers because they were the fasted bird in Europe; no one could confirm or deny this (remember Wikipedia didn’t yet exist), so Beaver discovered the perfect marketing opportunity. In 1955, the first Guinness Book of World Records was published and distributed to pubs for free in order to settle pub fights.
Fun fact: The world’s fasted bird is the peregrine falcon.
Ever wonder what tires have to do with restaurants? In 1900, in order to get people out driving (and thus wearing down tires), tire manufacturers André and Édouard Michelin published a guide to must-visit French restaurants and hotels. This guide that was meant to promote tires took on a life of its own and today the ratings are incredibly important to the featured hotels and restaurants.
Fun fact: The popularity has continued to grow over the past 100+ years; Michelin produced its first American guide in 2005 and started publishing a magazine in 2007.
Both of these content marketing materials were so creative and useful to the consumer that they have inspired their own product lines, websites, books and events. Oh yeah, and people are now PAYING for both of these products that used to be free. That is inspiring marketing.