Sears Roebuck appears to have had very few successes in the past decade or more. Invariably, stories about the company relate to profit losses and shrinking market share.
However, that certainly was not how it was a hundred years ago. In 1924, Sears started a radio broadcast out of their original Chicago headquarters, and built their own station (WLS), that proved as successful as about every other thing Sears was doing at the time. What made this radio station unique is that it was designed to help farmers improve profits, learn about weather conditions and government issues, and as the 1930s approached, provide firsthand information about the deflation crisis and how it was impacting U.S. farmers.
Now, you might wonder why Sears would build a radio station dedicated to farmers. The reason is simple. Sears was very aggressively entering the farming market with its own line of tractors and other machines designed specifically to be used for farming. They watched how John Deere and Company became so successful twenty-five years earlier by publishing The Furrow magazine and wanted to follow suit.
Neither the radio station nor The Furrow was an advertising vehicle. Instead, they were the earliest forms of content marketing. They provided tons of content and information, all designed to help farmers be more successful, make their jobs easier and improve productivity, and, especially during the Great Depression, deal with some very serious issues impacting farmers around the country.
Both proved successful. The Furrow is still in publication today and is read by 1.5 million farmers. While Sears eventually discontinued the broadcasts and sold the radio station, it served its purpose. The Sears brand of farm equipment grew significantly in the 1920s even into the struggling 1930s.
They showed once again the power of content marketing. By providing quality, credible, and helpful content, companies can build trust and loyalty with current as well as prospective customers, which eventually leads to sales.
Robert “Buzz” Kravitz is president of AlturaSolutions, which offers traditional PR/Communication services along with content marketing and search engine optimization programs specifically for B2B industries. Contact him at www.alturasolutions.com