Why We’re Still Talking About The Furrow in 2020

“When REI, the outdoor gear company, launched a print magazine last year, it became one of the latest examples of a marketing trend,” says Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour in this podcast. “It is called ‘content marketing’ and … brace yourselves … it’s not digital.”

As he explains, there’s an iconic brand in the Midwest that’s been doing this for decades. Marketplace correspondent Peggy Lowe of public radio station KCUR interviewed readers who have been receiving The Furrow, John Deere’s print magazine, for as many years as they can remember.

Initially published in 1895, the magazine is an excellent example of how branded print works to engage readership and build brand trust.

“The Furrow always came to our house for as young as I can remember,” notes 64-year-old Kansas farmer Gary Getterman. The print magazine has landed on farm tables eight times a year for more than 100 years.

Yes, it contains ads for the big green tractors, but as Lowe explains, “The Furrow is better known for its articles and photography” on things its audience truly cares about.

“John Deere has taken a definite interest in soil health, soil quality, conservation practices,” Getterman notes, “basically what I consider a whole new way of farming.”

Even though it’s delivered free of charge to about 500,000 farmers in the U.S. and Canada, outgoing company marketing director David Jones says The Furrow represents a “minuscule amount of the total marketing budget.”

The 100-year-old lesson for digital age marketers is this – audiences have always been searching for accurate sources of information. John Deere’s son Charles recognized this and created The Furrow to become that source. The modern audience is no different – in fact, the need for accurate and well-curated information has only increased as barriers to digital publishing has dropped.

By helping people become better at what they do – in John Deere’s case, that’s farming – brands have an opportunity to leverage print magazines to become an iconic part of the experience.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll be talking about your printed content marketing a hundred years from now.