Content marketing as a concept has become better known in the past few years, particularly because of Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman and Content Marketing World, an event produced by Joe Pulizzi.
Most people know content marketing as an online strategy and that's certainly true. What I call the new rules of marketing is when you create great web content including text based information (sites, blogs, a Twitter feed), video content, photographs, infographics, and the like, you brand yourself as an organization worthy of doing business with. Done well, an added bonus is that the search engines rank the content highly and people share the content on their social networks.
But with the efforts around online content marketing, don't forget that content marketing is not new - has been around for 100 years in an offline world. Here is a JELL-O recipe book from the 1960s for example. Or consider the Michelin Guides that were first published 110 years ago to help drivers maintain their cars, find decent lodging, and eat well while touring France. The purpose was to sell tires.
While staying at the Hotel Fabian in Helsinki this week, I was drawn to the restaurant's placements, which I quickly discovered are a fascinating example of content marketing. The placemats, produced by the hotel, include a map of the city and information on "How to survive in Helsinki" which I found hysterical. These are English to Finnish phrase translations but it is the choice of what phrases to include that is just terrific.
How to survive in Helsinki: English – Finnish translation essentials.
On the street
"That damned seagull took my meat pie."
"Is that stuffed reindeer for sale?"
"Can I scratch your dog?"
"My hovercraft is full of eels."
In the restaurant
"Do you have elk?"
"This gentleman will pay for everything."
"That is ridiculously cheap, don’t you have anything more expensive?"
"Where can I get a fur hat?"
In a world of sterile chain hotels with boring branding, this kind of content stands out. People remember. The take the placemat and use the map. They tell their friends.
Remember, content marketing is not just on the web.
Disclosures, I wrote the foreword to Content Rules, and I delivered a keynote at Content Marketing World in 2011.