In the year 1732,
Benjamin Franklin released a historical masterpiece
"Poor Richard's Almanack."
This wasn’t just another almanack.
It became one of the oldest examples of a successful content marketing strategy that I can find.
This almanack served as a promotional tool for his printing business.
He curated content through the voice of a fictional character named 'Richard Saunders'
Such as weather, poems, sayings and astronomical data just like any other almanack during his time.
However, he did something different
He added unique content such as math exercises, and examples of demographics...
Most importantly, he also added his thoughts with his witty sense of humor.
The goal was to make it “both entertaining and useful” - in his own words
Adding his voice was what set him apart from others.
Take a look at this clever stunt.
Franklin created a narrative involving Richard and a rival, Mr. Titan Leeds.
He hooked his readers in by predicting that a “good friend and fellow student, Mr. Titan Leeds was going to die on October 17, 1733, at 3:29 P.M."
While Mr. Leeds himself responded in a later edition that "he would die on October 26th"
Franklin encouraged his readers to purchase the next year’s edition if they supported Richard's prediction.
And to build suspense the next year, Franklin mentioned that he was too sick to find out whether Richard or Leeds was correct.
These cliff-hangers worked.
This buzz kept readers eagerly buying new editions to see who would ultimately be correct.
Sales skyrocketed, with over 10,000 copies sold in a year.
His Almanack became the second most popular book of its time, second to the Bible...
Franklin’s story is a timeless lesson in content marketing.
He didn’t just create generic content and shamelessly plugged his business any chance he could get.
He focused on the core of what people look for in content.
And for 25 years, "Poor Richard's Almanack" was a big deal.
It opened doors for Franklin to work with other businesses.
He printed the paper currency for New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
He helped print Bibles
He published Samuel Richardson's 'Pamela', The first novel printed in America
Ultimately becoming one of the biggest influential figures of his time.