The concept of Content Marketing has been around for more than 100 years, going all the way back to when automobiles were a novelty. However, interest in it spiked in 2011 after Google’s Panda Algorithm reduced rankings of low-quality content. The story of the Michelin Guide illustrates the importance of understanding what motivates your audience and how a big idea can lead to huge success for your business for decades to come.
In 1889, two brothers, Edouard and Andre Michelin, purchased a rubber factory in France and developed a detachable bicycle tire. When the automobile was invented, they realized they could also sell tires for automobiles. The problem was that in 1895, there were few cars in France and they could only be driven on Sundays. Further, people did not want to drive outside of Paris into the provinces, so the need to replacing tires was sparce. For the business to thrive, the brothers knew they needed to create more demand for their tires.
They came up with a creative content marketing solution known as the Michelin Guide. The brilliance of this guide was that it wasn’t about tires at all. It was a system for rating restaurants all over France. This three-star rating system, which is still used today, gave stars to a restaurant if it was worth a special journey, worth a detour and was good in its category. The guide also provided content about gasoline stations, car mechanics, and instructions for replacing a flat tire.
The guide’s ingenuity was that it spoke to Michelin’s audience about their passion for food, not tires. People were willing to drive to eat at a fine restaurant and Michelin tapped into that desire. It lead to people traveling to eat, which ultimately lead to tires being worn out and new tires being purchased. The Michelin guide not only helped build the Michelin brand, but also sold a lot of tires. The guide was so successful that it enabled Michelin Brothers to expand into other countries and it became the leading tire manufacturer in the the world.
The Michelin guide worked because the brothers had a strategic approach to developing a vision of content marketing success. They created and distributed valuable, relevant and consistent content to their customers. And it all drove profitable customer action. The Michelin Guide is still going strong worldwide today. Where would the company be today if the brothers had not thought outside the box beyond tires?
Content marketing is all about creating content that consumers will engage with and act upon.
With a solid content strategy, customers buying decision can be expedited, it can shorten your sales cycle, and your reach can be expanded to new prospects. What are you doing to solve your customers’ problems or motivating them to take action? Are you effectively portraying this to them through content marketing?
Finding that big idea can propel you into success and keep your business going, but it takes time and involves research and creativity. It is easy to get lost in the details of every day business and to lose sight of the bigger picture. While customers may want to know product specifics in the end, you need to connect with them by understanding their wants and desires and effectively conveying how you can fulfill them. Do that and you will be well on your way to great success.