If you are looking for the oldest content marketing examples, then you’ve come to the right place. I have three examples of content marketing that you probably have never seen or heard of before.

But first, you’ve got to hear this story…

More Beyond

In Valladolid, Spain, stands a monument called “Monumento a Colón” or “Columbus Monument.” You see, Valladolid is where the great discoverer Christopher Columbus died in 1506 and so they build this monument to commemorate him.

(I know that he is not viewed in a positive light these days, but keep reading on because the story still reveals a powerful truth.)

At the top of the monument is a barge that is being beaten by the rough winds and waves. On top of this barge is Faith personified as a woman and she is guiding Christopher Columbus.

But the reason I am telling you about this moment is because of the next part of the monument.

You see, the barge is on top of a globe that is encircled by a band. And on that band are the words “NON PLUS ULTRA,” which mean “No More Beyond.” Because at the time, people didn’t think that there was anything else beyond what had already been discovered.

But this is the cool part…

Underneath that globe is a lion tearing off the three first letters “NON” with a powerful swipe of of his paw, so that all that is left is “PLUS ULTRA” or “More Beyond.

columbus monument

Because the discovery of a New World shattered the limits people had known and helped them to see that there was much more beyond what they had ever known.

Magis Content (Or “More Content”)

When I first looked online to discover what the oldest example of content marketing example was, it seemed like most people pointed to John Deere’s The Furrow as the oldest known example of content marketing.

People didn’t seem to know of any other examples that dated back beyond this.

Well I’ve discovered some much older content marketing examples that you have probably never heard of. In Latin, we would say “Magis Content.” In other words, there is still “More Content.”

In this post, I will reveal three of the earliest content marketing examples that I have discovered so far, as of October 6, 2016. (NOTE: These aren’t in chronological order, from the oldest to the more recent. They are instead listed based on the order in which I discovered them.)

Ben Franklin: Founding Father, Author… and Content Marketer?

benjamin franklin oldest content marketing example

It wasn’t a discovery I was intending to make.

But there it was: the oldest example of content marketing known to exist.

And the best thing about this discovery was that it wasn’t just interesting from a historical viewpoint. It also reveals some important content marketing lessons that need to be applied today, more than ever before.

Let me explain how it happened:

I had come across an old digital version of a book from 1918 called, Field of Advertising. It wasn’t the most exciting book I ever found, so I wasn’t intending to discover anything important. I was reading it more out of curiosity than anything else.

And that’s when I made my accidental discovery: Benjamin Franklin used content marketing. That makes this 59 years older than the earliest known content marketing examples that had previously been cited!

You can read more about this discovery and the lessons you can learn from Benjamin Franklin in this post I wrote for ContentMarketingInstitute.com called…

4 Illuminating Lessons From One of History’s Most Inventive Content Marketers

The Oldest English Bookstore in France Used Content Marketing

galignani content marketing example

On a trip to Paris with my oldest son, I came across a bookstore called “Galignani” which described itself as “the first English bookstore established on the continent.”

After getting home and researching more about this store, I discovered that Giovanni Antonio Galignani, left an economically declining Venice for London and eventually ended up in Paris.

And that’s when he made a key decision: he decided to target the English-speaking population in Paris.

In 1801, he opened not only a bookstore, but also a reading room that specialized in the English language. But that’s not all. He had his publishing business.

He used that publishing business in a really ingenious way, which involved using content marketing in many of the same ways that top publishing empires of today use content marketing.

If you’d like to learn more about the methods he used 215 years ago to tap into the power of content marketing, and if you’d like to see how top publishing companies still use these same methods, then you can check out this post I wrote on LinkedIn called…

A 213 Year Old Business Reveals Two Content Marketing Secrets of Today’s Publishing Empires

You can also listen to what Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose said about my post on the their podcast “This Old Marketing”. (I edited it so you can just listen to the part about my post.)


Did William Penn Use Content Marketing to Establish Pennsylvania?

Almost a year after I made the discovery of Benjamin Franklin and the oldest content marketing example that we know of, I made a discovery of what could be an even older example of content marketing – one that is even 51 years earlier than the Franklin example.

That is IF it’s actually content marketing.

You see, the problem with this example I am about to show you is I am not sure whether it really qualifies as content marketing. (I’d love to hear what you think.)

I made this discovery while watching the TV show Finding Your Roots on PBS. (Actually, my teenage son made the discovery, but I’ll explain that more in a minute.) They were revealing a guest’s past and they made a passing reference to William Penn.

I wasn’t completely listening (because I was multi-tasking and working on my laptop) when suddenly my 13-year-old son turned to me and said, “Hey Dad. Isn’t that content marketing?”

(*How does a 13-year-old notice or even know what content marketing is? I point out content marketing examples so often to my wife and kids that now THEY notice them!)

I told him, “I am not sure. I need to look into it.” Well, I looked into it and in a post I wrote for MarketingInsiderGroup.com, I reveal to you all that I discovered.

Did William Penn Use the Oldest Known Content Marketing to Establish Pennsylvania? (I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you think it’s content marketing or not.)

Infographic of My Three Oldest Content Marketing Examples

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned many important content marketing lessons from each of the posts that I linked to above.

If you want to remember these three content marketing examples, then download the infographic below. And please share it with your friends, followers, and fans!

oldest content marketing examples infographic

Read more: 7 Smoking Hot Changes Coming to Content Marketing