The Origin of Content Marketing

  What are the lessons learned from the history of online content marketing, and how do they apply today?


I worked on Wall Street in the beginning. I got out of school, had an economics degree, found a job on Wall Street, and then very quickly ended up on a bond trading desk, municipal bonds, and I loved the action. I loved all the excitement, I loved the real-time nature of bond trading, but I was a crappy bond trader.

So I ended up then actually working behind the scenes in the data business. I was working for companies that were delivering real-time content. I actually started to make some sales calls in Japan at night on the telephone. I went back to my boss and said ‘hey maybe I should just go to Japan for a couple months and see what’s going on there’. Sales were wonderful, and so I ended up starting the Japan office for a company called Right and Associates. A couple of years later I joined a company called Knight Ridder, and I was their agent marketing director responsible for all of Asia marketing. Knight-Ridder was a Fortune 200 company at the time.

Where Does “Content Marketing” Come From?

I have this really strong understanding of real-time electronic information all before the web. This was in the late 80s and throughout the early 90s. When the web came around in 1995 and into the the late 1990s and very early 2000s, we gained this incredible real-time publishing platform that anybody in the world can take advantage of. All you needed to do in the early days is write a blog, later on do a YouTube video, have a twitter feed, get on the social networks, and you can publish content for free. So I was probably one of the very first people to recognize that there is a vast difference in the way that people were approaching the web in the early days.

The ways that I understood that we can make web work much better for companies, and the very big difference is that the vast majority of people, 99.9% of people, believe that marketing for the web is the same as marketing for radio, print, and advertising. This is not the case at all! To market on the web you create content – a video, a blog post, photographs, images, all of these wonderful things.

We were doing crazy things at the time like writing press releases not to reach the media but to reach potential customers that they would find in Google. And that sounds obvious today, but in 1998 that was not obvious. It was like! People were finding us, we were getting sales leads. In 1998 and 1999, I was doing email newsletters, but putting the content up on the web for free. Outside of the email component people could then see it on the on the website and see each of the newsletters and we kept running a database of those newsletters. It was radical at the time when people thought you should keep your content secret. No, I want my content to be freely available.

We were getting high search engines rankings as a result of this. I’ve been able to be successful with these marketing tactics and strategies, maybe I should help other companies. So that’s in fact what I did. In 2002, I went out on my own and started working for some select clients, and then in 2007 a book called The New Rules of Marketing and PR came out.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR was really radical at the time because it completely questioned the ways that people were marketing and doing public relations. And then that book became an instant bestseller. Since then I’ve updated it now five times, it’s in the fifth edition right now, and it’s been published in 28 different languages and has sold nearly 400,000 copies around the world.

About David Meerman Scott

Our always-on, Web-driven world has new rules for competing and growing business. Advance planning is out – agile is IN! Those who embrace new ways will be far more successful than those who stay who stay stuck and afraid to change. No one knows more about using the new Real-Time tools and strategies to spread ideas, influence minds and build business than David Meerman Scott. It’s his specialty.

David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed sales and marketing strategist whose high-energy presentations are a treat for the senses. That he’s spoken on all seven continents and in 40 countries to audiences of the most respected firms, organizations and associations underscores the value he brings to audiences.

David’s books and blog are must-reads for professionals seeking to generate attention in ways that grow their business. He is author or co-author of ten books – three are international bestsellers. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its 5th edition, has been translated into 27 languages and is a modern business classic with over 350,000 copies sold so far. Scott also authored Real-Time Marketing & PR, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, Newsjacking, and his newest hit The New Rules of Sales & Service. He is co-author of Marketing the Moon (with Rich Jurek) and Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead (with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan).