Content Marketing in the 90s: What Was It Like?

By Kaleigh Moore

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In the early 1990s, content marketing was, for the most part, traditional marketing.

If you wanted to get your company message in front of an audience, you had to place an ad in the newspaper, on TV, radio, billboards, etc.

In fact, almost one-fourth of the $150 billion in US advertising market spend was invested into television ads in 1990.

Data from Andy Crestodina’s book Content Chemistry echoes this as well. The company sat at the middle of the marketing model, and messages flowed outward through different channels with limited opportunities for input and/or cross-channel.

But in the mid-90s, something changed.

The internet became a tool more widely used and opportunity-packed than any marketer could ever dream of. At the close of the 90s, marketing was changing – fast – and becoming more of the marketing machine we know today.

But what was “content marketing” back then? Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that came, went, and stayed over this change-packed decade.

Print Marketing

In the early 1990s, many businesses used print materials to spread the word about their services, products, and offerings. While these are still used today at live events, some formats aren’t exactly as ubiquitous as they used to be.

Brochures were an extremely popular format for their portability, quick distillation of information, and eye-catching quality when printed in color.

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The trouble with these marketing materials, however, was that they were expensive to print, they included no actionable next step besides a phone number – and they didn’t produce any trackable metrics to indicate success or failure.

In fact, much of the time, they ended up in the trash. In a way, brochures were an indicator of legitimacy for brands – but their effectiveness was difficult to gauge at best.

But print doesn’t just refer to brochures, of course.

Marketers like Joe Cordo, current CMO of WegoWise, remembers how other forms of print media during the 90s were hugely important to the success (or failure) of marketing teams.

“Public Relations in B2B made product brands, and often drove valuations of companies. Front page print coverage and product reviews drove a product to brand leadership,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it was all good. An overemphasis on PR created brand perception rather than healthy demand. Good products didn’t necessarily achieve the market presence they should have. The web and data-driven digital marketing in the 2000s changed all of that for the better.”


Fax machines were another a popular tool for B2B marketing in the early 1990s.

Leveraging a business directory of fax numbers, advertisements, and marketing messages could be sent on a mass-scale. The peak sales year for fax machines was 3.6 million machines sold in 1997, but as email became more widely used in the late 1990s, the tool hit a downward trajectory after this point.

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Sending unsolicited faxes didn’t fly for long, either. In 2003, the FCC restricted companies from sending marketing faxes/advertisements and made it Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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