PT Barnum posterIt’s my guess that P.T. Barnum would have found the internet, no pun intended, to be a wild and outlandish circus of advertising opportunity. You may not have much respect for his “Feejee” mermaid or the worker exploitations ol’ Phineas Taylor Barnum may have been guilty of, but when it comes to marketing, few 19th century Americans deserve more respect.

“The desire for wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable, provided the possessor of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend to humanity.”

You might be surprised to learn that P.T. Barnum was actually quite the philanthropist. However, Barnum wasn’t just shelling out cash for whatever “good cause” hit him up. Instead, he was very interested in giving philanthropically when it also benefited him. He was quoted on the matter: “[…] if […] I can do so at a profit, the incentive to ‘good works’ will be twice as strong as if it were otherwise.”

Barnum was a major contributor to museums and other spectator ventures (obviously connected to his line of work). The takeaway for you? Barnum has just outlined some of the basic principles of content marketing: Give freely now so that you earn sales later.

“The noblest art is that of making others happy!”

Speaking of giving, Barnum was a big believer in giving his customers what they wanted. If you were to make presumptions about Barnum, you might think he was something of a swindler. However, the marketing mastermind understood that for his brand to enjoy longevity, he had to keep customers happy, which he himself was more than happy to do!

“Advertise your objective, don’t keep it in the dark.”

Your entire content strategy should point toward specific objectives. While purely entertaining blog posts and off-topic Tweets have their place, your content strategy needs to be moving in a defined direction. Once you’ve created your content strategy, set it into action with these six steps.

“Small doses of advertising result in nothing, obviously. It’s like giving a sick person half the medicine he needs. It just causes more suffering. Give the whole dose, and the cure will be certain and decisive.”

Substitute the word ‘blogging’ for ‘advertising’ and you’ll learn a very valuable content marketing lesson. Any kind of inbound (content) marketing requires consistency in order to be effective. “How often should I blog?” is a seemingly perennial question that might be best sorted out through this post on ProBlogger. Just keep the Barnum quote in mind as you develop your blogging strategy – no small doses!

“I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”

Clearly P.T. Barnum is talking about SEO value, right? Okay, maybe not, but he did understand one age-old adage: any press is good press. Learn how to control your online reputation and how to recover it when things do go wrong (because at some point or another, they will). When you possess control of your internet reputation, then your only worry is increasing its online value!

Have any favorite P.T. Barnum quotes or lessons of your own?