By Paul Sandy | March 14, 2013

With St. Patrick’s Day nearly upon us, it gives me a perfect opportunity to write about three of my favorite things in this world: beer, oysters on the half shell, and content marketing. What’s the connection? Guinness.

The Irish brewery has long been famous for its tasty stout beers and innovative advertising. But did you know Guinness has been doing standout content marketing (the non-pushy, journalistic style that builds trust with an audience) since long before anyone really knew what content marketing was?

Neither did I. Then I stumbled upon a poster/ad from 1951 when I was searching on eBay for something fun to hang on the wall of my basement (read “mancave”). Titled Guinness Guide to Oysters, the poster provides an overview of nine types of oysters with factoids on where are found as well as tips for how they taste.


Even in today’s content-saturated world, the poster actually holds up quite well. For certain, it lacks the social media and viral reach that today’s content marketing enjoys. (Although ironically enough, the fact that I’m sharing it here gives it social legs for eternity.) The point is they were doing content marketing the right way at the St. James Gate Brewery over six decades ago.

Here are some best practices to take away from the Mad Men who created the guide way back in the 50s:

Choose a Topic that Interests Your Audience.

Stout beers and oysters are a classic food pairing. There’s just something about the dark toasted barley and milky texture of Guinness that dances with the saline, slipperiness of oysters. By publishing the guide, Guinness affirmed the match and subtly implied that anyone who enjoys bivalves should try them with an Irish stout. Likewise, next time a beer drinker wandered into a restaurant with a raw bar, they’d probably make the oyster and Guinness connection.

Can you make similar linkages to your brand?

Inform and Educate.

The best content marketing tells audiences something they don’t know.

About Cape Cod oysters, the Guinness Guide states:

An oyster of superb flavor. Its chief enemy is the starfish, which wraps its arms about the oyster and forces the valves open with its feet. The battle lasts for hours, until the starfish is rewarded with a good meal, but alas, no Guinness.

This isn’t life-changing stuff. It’s basically useless trivia. Then again, you’ve been to a bar. Half of all bar chatter is useless trivia. For the beer-drinking crowd, it works.

I know what you’re thinking. “But, Paul, there’s no way we can do something like this. Our product is dull.” What, like insurance? There’s always an interesting angle; trust me. You just need to find it, like this insurance company did in their Extreme Guide to the World. It provides tips for adventurous travelers while softly alluding to the benefits of travel insurance.

Narrow the Focus.

The overriding tendency among brands is to try to reach too many people all at once with a broadcast of content. Rather than trying to connect with the masses, consider honing in on a smaller audience.

The most engaging pieces . . . and those that rise to the top of search engines . . . are efforts that enable your brand to start an intimate conversation with a smaller group of people who share the same passion or interest. Guinness very easily could’ve published a “Guinness Guide to Cuisine”. Heck, they could’ve even gone with a “Guinness Guide to Seafood.” Instead, they brought it down to as tight of a focus as possible and got oyster fanatics like me excited.

By narrowly defining your audience and truly understanding what motivates them, it’s easier to create provocative content marketing that establishes your brand’s point of view and builds trust.

There you have it. Content marketing the Irish way. Following these three best practices gets you halfway to convincing audiences they should trust your brand. How do you get the rest of the way? As Irish luck would have it, we can help. Enter your email above to subscribe to the blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.



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