Content Marketing Case Study: The Whole Seed Catalog

This week's content marketing case study focuses on an excellent example of content marketing: The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

If you're a gardener, then you probably know about Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This seed company, founded by Jere Gettle in 1998, sells heirloom, non-GMO, organic seeds. Sounds simple, right?

Their marketing, however, is anything but simple. The 2016 Whole Seed Catalog is like a symphony of excellent content marketing in one gorgeous, can't-stop-looking at it package.

Here's what this company's content marketing gets right:

  • The catalog tells a story. From the first page, where the reader is introduced to Jere and his family and their life's mission to preserve historic seeds to the stories from the seed growers around the world, we're drawn into this amazing global community of gardeners. It made me want to run out and start gardening immediately even if it was only January.
  • The pictures are gorgeous. The cover looks at first glance like gemstones stacked one on top of the other, but it's actually a close-up photograph of corn. CORN! Beautiful, gorgeous, multicolored Indian corn. Inside, each plant is featured in color photographs that also capture the people who raised the seeds.
  • Throughout the entire seed catalog are sprinkled well-written, in-depth stories that support the Baker Creek story. These stories or articles explain what GMO seeds are and why the company believes they aren't good for the environment. Other stories share the history of various plant varieties or stories of the people who grow them.
  • Each item's description includes all the relevant information you'd expect to find in a catalog, such as item number, price, growing season, cultural information, etc.
  • The catalog's layout is clean and easy to read.
  • The paper quality is excellent.


The catalog isn't free. I received a free copy because I am a member of the Garden Writers Association, but the cover price of this book is $9.95. I'd say it is well worth it. I actually brought my copy with me to the salon while getting my highlights done. As any woman will attest, that means hours of styling, coloring and drying...and I was engrossed in my seed catalog. Can you imagine reading a seed catalog so intently?

Content Marketing Tips

All in all, the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog gets an A+ from me for its expert content marketing.

Great content marketing hits the sweet spot between informing customers about products and services, entertaining and engaging them, and yes, selling products. Some content marketers talk about the undersell or soft sell, and some pretend that they don't want their content to sell anything at all. While content marketing isn't direct marketing (it's not about the direct sale), your content marketing programs should always support the consumer's choice to buy your products or services. Information is the key to helping people move along the decision ladder, ultimately choosing YOUR company to do business with among the many companies available.

That's where the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog hits all the right points. It's incredibly informative while simultaneously being entertaining, and that's not easy to do in a market saturated with seeds. Seeds aren't particularly high margin items, and it can be difficult to invest in marketing them. But because garden seeds are everywhere for consumers to purchase, you've got to make customers understand why your garden seeds are different or better than other companies'. And that's where Baker Creek gets it right.

They are selling a different product. They invest time, money and resources into finding heirloom seeds - seeds passed down through generations of gardeners, families and communities. These seeds are free from genetic tinkering by humans and are open-pollinated. Some are said to be more nutritious or tasty than commercially grown varieties. Others are quite difficult to find among the large commercial growing operations. Baker Creek tells a unique story, and because they tell it well, consumers understand what sets them apart and why they should shop from their catalog.


Would You Like Your Company Features as a Case Study?

I'd love to share YOUR company's content marketing case study here. Please contact me and share samples of your firm's content marketing program if you'd like to be featured on the Seven Oaks Consulting content marketing blog.