History can teach us a lot. For example, did you know besides being an accomplished singer, Mariah Carey also discovered the vaccine for polio? Of course she didn’t—that was Jonas Salk. But history taught us it was Jonas Salk! As for building a successful business, countless historic entrepreneurs are on standby to show us the way. Here are 5 killer examples of content marketing in history and what you should be learning from them.

Stumped on how to increase your market share? Look to history for the answers.

Ben Franklin, Advertising’s Patron Saint
Ben Franklin, often termed as the Patron Saint of Advertising, devised a brilliant plan to market his ideas in a pre-advertisement era. His position as a publisher gave him unique access to the public and he used that status to market his ideas through letters to the editor before presenting those ideas officially. By using this ‘soft-opening’ tactic, he convinced the population of Philadelphia that they needed fire fighters, among many other successes.

Franklin was also a master of image manipulation. He knew that hard work was valued by his target audience so he made people think he was a hard worker by being visible at work early in the morning and late at night. Developing a specific business image is essential in today’s world just as it was in Franklin’s days and is an important lesson to take from Franklin’s book of marketing lessons.

John Deere, Increasing Brand Loyalty
John Deere is known for serving pioneers in the agricultural industry but the company was also a content marketing pioneer. In 1895, John Deere released its first issue of The Furrow, a lifestyle magazine targeted at farmers and ranchers. So, what made the magazine so revolutionary? Its purpose wasn’t to sell John Deere products, but, rather, to educate farmers on business ownership and technological advances in the industry.

The publication was so popular among its target market that it led to a second magazine, Homestead. It also generated intense brand loyalty among John Deere product users. The main lesson to learn from this example is that your content shouldn’t always be tailored to sell your products and services. Instead, create valuable content for your users and enjoy a side benefit of increased sales and more brand loyalty.

The Michelin Guides, Value Makers
The iconic red cover is what most people remember about The Michelin Guides, which was first published in 1900 by Michelin. However, the content inside the guide was even more memorable and included 400 pages of information on how to maintain your vehicle as well as tips for finding decent lodging. Similar to other examples of historic content marketing, The Michelin Guides shows the importance of creating valuable content for your target audience, not just being a product pusher.

Jell-O Recipe Book, Using Familiar Products in New Ways
Typically, a consumer will only purchase your product if they have a basic understanding of how to use it. The manufacturers of Jell-O understood this and, in 1904, employed the tactics of content marketing to create the Jell-O recipe book. The free recipe book was packed with recipes that utilized Jell-O in new and exciting ways. The company’s content marketing strategy was so effective that it contributed to nearly $1 million in additional sales by 1906. It also led to countless copycat recipe books from such companies as King Arthur Flour and Betty Crocker.

There’s always room.

Again, this example shows the importance of providing unique and valuable content to your target audiences. Find a way to teach customers how to use your products in new and exciting ways and watch your sales soar.

PT Barnum, Deception and Sensationalism PT Barnum is both revered and criticized for his unprecedented marketing techniques. On the negative end, Barnum used deception and lies to increase attendance at his circus and other shows. Yet, he was also a genius of using sensationalism to generate a buzz about his circus and other ventures.

In today’s world, deception is a great marketing tactic for running your business into the ground. However, we can learn much from Barnum’s mastery of creating a buzz to increase sales. Get people talking about your products or services and they’ll be more likely to remember your brand when the time comes to make a purchase.

From image manipulation to buzz generation, historical figures were masters of marketing. History isn’t so boring now, eh?

There’s a lot of buzz these days surrounding the importance of content marketing. Yet, content marketing is nothing new. It’s been used for centuries by countless innovators who recognized new and effective ways to connect with their target audiences. The great news is that you can learn from their successes to achieve content marketing greatness in your business.