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Once Upon a Time: The Story of Content Marketing

Marketing has a very long history. Most people don’t know, but even in ancient Rome, gladiators were actually used as a marketing medium. Product manufacturers used to pay these gladiators to wear their products as a form of advertisement. The point is that marketing has been a part of people’s lives for ages. As long as there was even one person selling something, there was some form of marketing involved.

Writing For Marketing: How It Changed Through The Years

It is only now that we think that marketing somehow evolved as a result of the internet. That is completely untrue. No doubt the internet has played a role in the growth of marketing, but the origins of content marketing are as old as the origins of mankind.

Some experts suggest that content marketing developed in the dark, dingy caves, where crude artwork was created and exchanged for food. Move forward to the 18th century, and formal content marketing started with the invention of the printing press. The printing press paved the path for the creation of brochures, pamphlets, and newsletters which were widely circulated back then.

The baby boomers tend to believe that mass content marketing only really evolved with the development of the Internet because it allowed easy distribution and communication globally. The fact is that marketing as a concept has always been in existence but to be fair, it has been the development of the internet that has epitomized the real power of content marketing.

However, keep in mind that consumer-driven content marketing was also present in the 19th century. The only difference was that during those days, companies used “brands” instead of content. This time period coincided with the first development of formal transportation and communication and this helped forge connections between sellers and buyers.

Brand recognition became the name of the game, and marketing innovators seized this opportunity to improve advertising. The goal was not to just push consumers to buy products but to actually recognize brands. Brands were the vehicles used to strengthen relationships between the buyers and the sellers.


A classic example is John Deere, a brand that has certainly withstood the test of time. Looking for ways to improve farming, the company launched a magazine called the ‘Furrow’ in 1885. The publication provided farmers with advice on farming, how to improve crop production and how to make a profit.


The magazine made the brand so strong that John Deere farming equipment became synonymous with farmers not only in the USA but around the globe. The brand is respected, valued and most sought after. Today the ‘Furrow’ is read by millions of people in 12 languages in over three dozen countries.



But John Deere was not alone in maximizing the power of the brand. The French tire company Michelin published the Michelin guide. Their goal was to encourage people to travel in their cars, which in turn, would lead to the wear and tear of tires, which would eventually lead to tire replacement. Some would say this was a round-about strategy, but it worked. Throughout the 50-80s, Americans polished their cars, clogged up the highways and drove around the country. And which tires did they buy when they needed to? Michelin obviously.







Consumer publications, catalogs, newsletters, and brochures soon became very common until the late 1990s, when the internet boom changed the marketing dynamics completely. There was a time when TV was used to market content, but this medium never really took off on a broad scale advertising on TV was fairly expensive, and smaller market players could not afford it.


When the digital age arrived in the late 1990s, there was an exponential growth in content marketing. Computers were now affordable, and marketers shifted their focus to websites, emails, blogs, and social media. The ability to communicate easily and with a large audience was a major factor contributing to the growth of content marketing.

The Internet allowed one to go across geographical borders without ever leaving the comfort of their home or desk.  A few strokes on the keyboard and millions could be reached in an instant. When e-commerce was introduced, it was seen as a revolutionary way of selling products and services. Today, we take online stores for granted, but the fact is that marketing has come a long way, and so has content.

From simple tag lines and catch phrases to the use of surprise elements and controversial facts and statistics, content marketing today is not just playing with words. Marketers now need to be very careful about what they say to their target audience. False or deceptive advertising and content rarely work in this day and age, and only those companies who provide reliable, informative and interesting content to their audience are the ones who gain respect and brand loyalty.

The power of the brand still remains, but this power is now being strengthened by the quality of content. And this power is here to stay.


Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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