I started typing words on the internet for monetary gain the year Miley Cyrus began her role as “Hannah Montana.” So, yeah, I’ve seen some things.
I always assumed that content marketing was a relatively new idea, born in the early days of the internet and perfected by marketing thought leaders like Seth Godin.
Boy, was I wrong.
After a visit to his childhood home, my husband returned home with a massive stack of “Nintendo Power” magazines. Flipping through, I discovered Nintendo had a lot to teach this content marketing veteran.
1. Passion wins
Before “Nintendo Power” there was the “Nintendo Fun Club News” which ran for seven issues.
Then in 1988, “Nintendo Power” was born. Did Nintendo hire some Condé Nast wunderkind to take on this daunting task? Nope. They kept avid gamer and Fun Club President Howard Phillips on the job. He brought his passion to the pages and the gamers knew he was one of them.
2. They stayed relevant to their audience
Back in the 1990s a subscription to “Nintendo Power” was a geek badge of honor. Why? From the start, “Nintendo Power” was about the players.
The issues offered strategy, tips, and previews of upcoming games.
In the days before the internet walk-thru, this was the only way to learn the secrets of the games you loved. Nintendo respected that relationship and kept innovating their presentation of the info to stay connected with their audience.
3. They told the truth
Even though it was produced by Nintendo, players felt that they could trust the opinions of “NP.” Here’s the proof – over the course of 285 issues, only six games earned a perfect score.
Three years into the publication, the magazine redesigned the format.
They asked their readers what they thought and proudly published their feedback, both good and bad, in a prime spot on the back page. That’s bold.
4. Readers dictated the content
Lesser marketers might stuff the 100+ pages of “NP” with self-congratulatory crap. That’s not how Mario rolls. Many pages of “Nintendo Power” were devoted to gamers showing their high scores or helping each other through tough parts of older games.
“Nintendo Power” used their platform to build communities. All content marketers should strive to cultivate the same connection.
5. They heard opportunity knocking
This is old hat at this point but when cult classic “The Wizard” hit theaters in 1989, a smaller version of the magazine called “Pocket Power” was offered at the cinema.
Since the film is pretty much a 100 minute commercial for Super Mario Bros. 3, this wasn’t an opportunity to be missed. Now, that’s leverage.
6. They knew the power of their platform
It took 10 years for the magazine to begin accepting outside advertising. Can you imagine having brand content so well produced and an audience so desirable that other brands want to pay you for placement? “Nintendo Power” was living that dream.
For “Nintendo Power” readers, like my dear husband, the power of a well-delivered brand promise can still be felt 30 years later. In fact, when Nintendo’s latest console, Switch, hit shelves earlier this year, he didn’t rest until he had one of his own.
Now that’s powerful content marketing.