A Look At Nearly 100 Years of Content Marketing

Important news for those who are ‘new’ to ideas of content marketing, advocate marketing, and brand journalism …


Betty Crocker was invented in 1921 by the Washburn Crosby Milling Company (before merging with others mills to create General Mills) to personalize the responses of thousands of customer inquiries about baking and how to use various products. Due to the overwhelming response, they hired as many as 21 women to answer as Betty and even began sponsoring cooking schools across the country. In 1924 ‘Betty’ was given a formal voice as Agnes White took to the radio to deliver Betty Crocker Cooking School on Air – a role she played in public for over two decades. Throughout this time, they produced and released thousands of recipes and uses of their Gold Medal Flour and other General Mills products.

By the mid 1950s, recipes were powerful tools for home brands like General Mills, Ball Jars, and Cuisinart; but Dorcas Reilly took things to a new level with her now-famous recipe of Green Bean Casserole that featured a boring grey product with a poor reputation. Campbell’s Soup estimates that at least 40% of the total sales (to date) of Cream of Mushroom Soup is sold to make this one recipe!

Recipes work because they are ‘content’ that people actually want, enjoy, and love to share. We are practically programmed to give it at the mention that someone likes what we made. The best part about them is that the recipe provides the product recommendation!

Modern content strategies (at least the really good ones) are designed to create similar effect. It is about creating situations where our customers and fans can rave about us to their friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family.

Blogs, memes, videos, e-books, white papers, infographics and the like are simply today’s version of a cooking recipe – good ‘how-to guides’ are always well-circulated and appreciated. Here are a couple simple keys to keep in mind:

  • Make content that is relevant and authentic to your brand.
    Not everyone needs a recipe or cat video. Share information that relates to product or company and that shows your unique strengths
  • Produce pieces that people want or enjoy.
    Nobody wants another commercial for your company, but might enjoy an exclusive look at how a your products are made, bloopers/outtakes from CEO video address, or something that reminds us you are human.

    Produce pieces that help your people/fans/customers look good when they choose to share it.

  • Give it for free
    Email addresses and membership subscriptions are merely about managing distribution – not about generating transactions. Make it easy if someone wants to make a transaction, but content messages are not commercial messages. The reason content works is because in not having an expectation of purchase, we build relationships with humans who enjoy it.

Rather than hand-written index files and spiral notebooks; we have powerful technology tools like Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Email to not only distribute content, but to also provide detailed tracking and analytics. This makes it easier for messages to quickly cover great distances while also making deep impact.

How effective is your content strategy?

About David Frick
David brings a holistic approach to business growth that unites advertising, marketing, sales with aspects of leadership and operations. As the founder of SuccessVentures, he is driven to help build people, build value, and build business

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