Tom Blah
06-Sep-2017 16:50:43

The road from tyres to restaurants

How Michelin became part of a completely different industry





In the early 1900s, fewer than 3,000 cars were on the roads of France. Two brothers, Édouard and André Michelin owned a small tyre company. Frustrated with the lack of interest in driving cars in France, they decided to do something different to encourage people to get on the road. The two brothers published “The Michelin Guide”, or a guide that provided useful information to motorists, such as maps, tyre repair, replacement instructions, car mechanic listings, hotels and petrol stations throughout France, in hopes of encouraging more people to hit the roads, and thus, increase business for them. The brothers printed nearly 35,000 copies of this and began to make guides throughout other European countries.

Soon, the brothers started noticing that the restaurant and hotel section of their guides were the most read aspect. The rest of the story is history. Michelin is one of the world’s leading tyre business, but that is not what most people recognise them for. It’s the Michelin Star. The fact a car tyre company is so widely known by people all over the world, leads me to think this is one of the most brilliant content marketing campaigns in history. So how can marketers and businesses learn from this simple, yet unintuitive campaign?




Understanding your audience is the first way to discover these unintuitive passion points and interests that can lead to great things. What started out as a motorist guide, became a guide that inspired people to drive these routes. What the Michelin brothers discovered is that only a small percentage of those buying their tyres, were actually interested in buying their tyres. They had to discover how to make it a necessity to buy their tires - and what a better way than to encourage these people to get out and drive and explore, and in the meantime ensure Michelin becomes a part of culture.

So how do these brilliant ideas come about? Some of it is luck and innovation, but for the most part it’s just the creative genius of the best content marketers. But there is an easier way to tap into these ideas. Enter AI: a way to help distill the billions of data points about audiences online, into insight that you can actually use as a creative marketer. More importantly, it’s a way to discover these unintuitive ways to get people to buy your product, or become a part of culture: like a tyre company selling a restaurant guide.Sometimes these ideas are just naturally brilliant due to luck. But nowadays, we have tools that the Michelin brothers didn’t have. We don’t have to rack our brains as much to help us discover these ideas. AI can lead us to them, and then content marketers can do what they do best: create.

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