Yes you read that right…1895.
120 years ago John Deere launched a publication called The Furrow. According to David G. Jones, the Publications Manager of The Furrow “The precise circumstances under which the idea for The Furrow was hatched are unclear. I can tell you the company was under the direction of John Deere’s son, Charles, when The Furrow was first published. Charles was known as a fairly astute marketer; he recognized farmers’ need for an accurate, unbiased source of information, and recognized the marketing potential associated with providing that information”. 
What you have is one of the earliest (that I know of) examples of using content marketing to engage a consumer audience. What Charles Deere started turned into a magazine that at its heyday had a circulation of over 4 million. To put that in perspective, Time magazine’s circulation today is 3.3 million. Keep in mind this was only aimed at the farming community. Obviously farming was a larger community than it is today, but The Furrow served the exact purpose that the E-Books, and white papers and various content pieces that we create today. It helped to inform the community that John Deere worked in. It gave value to the reader.
Neil Dahlstrom, John Deere’s manager of corporate history said “Looking back at our archives, you can see the changes, from an advertorial, to a general agriculture journal with farming hints and reprinted articles that look a lot like the Farmers’ Almanac, to today’s magazine that tells farmers how to run their businesses”. 
How can you take this lesson to your marketing efforts? The biggest lesson is to keep it About Your Customer! It has come to the time that you have become a publisher if you are using content marketing to grow your business. Make it something they want to read, something useful, entertaining, or informative. No one wants to read something that they think is unhelpful, unenterprising, or uninformative. Content that is just about you and how wonderful you are is not going to keep their attention for long.