My colleagues Adam Elgar and James Barclay have previously written about Michelin as an early example of content marketing. It's a compelling one: how do you convince people to buy tires? By giving them a guide to cool places to drive to.
Joe Pulizzi has done one better however by finding an eighteenth-century example of content marketing in Benjamin Franklin's 1732 Poor Richard's Almanack.
I would not be surprised to find historians of marketing to unearth much earlier examples too - after all, has marketing ever truly been content-free?
The point being that content marketing is not a new practice, it has been working for savvy business people for centuries. What these examples have in common is that they worked out what their prospective audience wanted and gave it to them, as a way of attracting them to their core business. Looking at Pulizzi's timeline just shows how diverse this strategy can be, check it out and start thinking beyond a standard blog post.
If you want some insights into where the content marketing industry may be headed, it might just help to take a look at where it’s been. As we pointed out when CMI shared its History of Content Marketing infographic in 2012, brands have been telling their stories to audiences for hundreds of years. Not to mention that storytelling itself is one of the oldest forms of communication.