I implemented content marketing back in the early 1970’s. I was among the first ever to use it. Yes, I was a pioneer in content marketing because I worked in independent retail.
Information used to be severely limited. We didn’t know it, but compared with today’s resources, it’s obvious!
Newspapers, magazines, books, radio or TV shows and human interaction pretty much summed up the total pool of resources. No matter what we were pursuing (buying a boat, building a deck or fixing a plumbing problem), we sought out information from all those places. And not all of those places had what were looking for. Books and magazines were once the most reliable sources of information no matter how narrow the interest.
My early passion was high fidelity sound. While still in high school I began to sell hi-fi stereo gear at a local shop. Presto! I was suddenly in content marketing (really, it was content selling – I was selling by sharing content or knowledge).
Three skills were required in the 1970’s to be a great content provider – and a person who used content to sell. Those same skills are necessary in this Internet era.
Good content sellers collect useful information to serve their market (customers). I used to read the major (and even minor) stereo magazines. I subscribed to Audio, Stereo Review and High Fidelity. I also subscribed to quite a few pricier “underground” publications aimed at real audiophiles. I invested time to read these magazines, priding myself in knowing all the latest, greatest, coolest, trickest things on the market.
Rolling Stone published a Guide To High Fidelity. I bought it. Others published books about how to select and design a good stereo system. I bought every one of them. And read them.
My customers – first, my prospects – gained from my collection of all this knowledge.
Information is only valuable if it’s useful. That means, it must be personal.
When a person entered the stereo shop looking for loudspeakers, it was pointless to drone on about the latest reel-to-reel machine or technology. He may not have ever owned an open reel machine. Maybe he had no interest in that. His interest was in speakers, but what kind of speakers? How about I whip him with all my knowledge of the latest, greatest corner horn technology…but he’s mostly interested in bookshelf speakers. No, I had to make full use of his time (and my own).
Like a good editor who distills the information into the most meaningful and concise format for the reader, viewer or listener…I had to do the same thing with hi-fi information. The information needed to fit the needs and interests of my shopper.
My vast knowledge was only valuable if I could apply the portions of it most interesting to my shopper.
As a stereo salesman I was a teacher. It’s the core duty of every successful content marketer.
I knew things my shopper didn’t. It was my duty to teach him what I knew so he’d know it, too. And he wouldn’t have to invest all the time I had because I could provide a major short cut for him. I had spent hours and hours reading, studying and listening. I could share what I knew with him by giving him great information free of charge with the goal of helping him make a wise choice to buy from me!
Teaching them about the merits of equipment, teaching them what to look for, teaching them how to buy, install and use the equipment…those were all part of my job as a content marketer in the 1970’s.
What’s different today?
Newspapers and magazines have given way to blogs.
Radio has given way to podcasts.
TV has given way to online video.
Websites and search engines have overtaken books.
Books have given way to Kindle.
It’s still about being the best person to answer questions, share useful information and teach people things they want to know. It’s content marketing 70’s style.
I no longer feel like a dinosaur. Well, I feel like a younger, hipper dinosaur.