Cooking up content


I’m writing a little series of blog posts for January around the subject of content marketing. Tomorrow I’m going to start with the basics but today, I just want to tell you a story.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

One upon a time, in the early 1900s there was a company called Bero who sold flour. Their target market was working class women in the UK who used their flours to prepare food for their families.

But the problem was that, well, flour is just flour and of course there were several other flour brands and they were all competing for the same customers.

So how to draw attention to Bero and win more sales? A bigger slice of the pie? (pun intended!)

Should they take out more adverts in newspapers? Do instore promotions? Should they retail their flours at a lower price than the other flour brands on offer?

What they decided to do instead was a very early and very clever example of content marketing.

Instead of focusing on a traditional marketing and sales approach (more ads, bigger ads, better distribution, snazzier packaging) they decided to create something much, much better.

They wrote and launched a cookery book. A cookery book that would change their game and ultimately make them the leading brand of flour in the UK for many years.

Why a cookery book?

Today, when the latest Jamie Oliver is available for a tenner in your local supermarket and the internet is crammed full of recipe sites and food blogs, it’s hard to imagine why this would have been such a hit.

But in the early 1900s, ordinary households didn’t have cookery books. Recipes were learned or passed on, written on pieces of paper and in notebooks. A young woman setting up home had no easy and instant way of having a range of recipes at her floury fingertips.

So to have your own cookery book, with all the classic, standard recipes for baking for your family, was very appealing to the 1920s housewife. With her trusty Bero cookbook she would be able to master pastry, cakes, breads and the like to satisfy and delight her family.

The first Bero book was published in 1923 and thousands were distributed at events and sold via mail order, having been advertised on the sides of bags of flour and in the press.

Since then the book has continued to be popular, even today, having become a real retro nostalgia piece. It’s now in its 41st edition and the company have also embraced the 21st century by creating content around recipes and ‘how to’ guides for their website.

Content marketing success

Bero ticked all the boxes here. The creation of their cookbook was a fantastic idea for the following reasons;

  1. They understood their target market and their needs
  2. They create something that would be kept and constantly refered to on a weekly if not daily basis, for years to come
  3. They created content that was genuinely useful and of interest
  4. They were first to market with the idea. Since then many brands in food have created cookery books and supplements. Bero was first.
  5. They stuck to what they were good at. The recipes in the book were not fancy pants stuff, it was simple, honest fayre which chimed exactly with their brand values and their customers needs.

So a solid success for Bero that still has impact almost a century later on. But how to create impact with a content marketing approach for your company? Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my next blog which will get you thinking in the right way about how to start applying the principles yourself.


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