When the Power of Content Marketing Has DEADLY Results – Literally!

If you are a regular to this site, then you know that I usually show you the power of content marketing to promote great products or services.

Well, today is going to be different, very different.

I am going to show you that the power of content marketing is so effective that it can successfully promote horrible, even deadly, products.

Let me explain.

In my previous 3-part series on the power of serialized content, I told you about a show I really like watching called Monumental Mysteries that’s on the Travel Channel.

There’s another variation of that show that also stars Don Wildman. It’s also called Mysteries at the Museum

Well, I was watching episode 18 of the second season on demand and I came across a shocking, true-life story that I realized revealed the power of content marketing.

The Dr. Who Harnessed the Power of Content Marketing

In 1908, a woman set up a medical practice in Olalla, Washington, which is just across Puget Sound from Seattle.

The woman’s name was Dr. Linda Hazzard. 

Dr. Linda Hazzard

A woman opening up a medical practice in the early 1900’s isn’t something that’s worth mentioning on it’s own.

But it was the type of practice she opened that makes it worth mentioning.

You see, Dr. Hazzard didn’t rely on the regular procedures and medicine to help her patients.

She believed that fasting could help any/all of their medical problems. She thought it could cure anything from colds to cancer.

The problem was that she was new to the area and she needed to attract patients.

Instead of advertising her practice, she decided to try something that was bolder. She wrote a book.  (This is content marketing!)

Her book was called Fasting for the Cure of Disease.

She then took to the streets and began telling people the ideas found in her book. (This is also a form of content marketing.)

And her methods worked!

In fact, they worked so well that she began attracting many patients, people who believed her unique message and wanted her help.

This was great news for her practice, but bad news for her patients.

You see, her usual practice of having her patients ingest nothing but vegetable broth and a tomato juice for up to two months was having a deadly effect.

20 Deaths in Three Years

Three years after opening her practice, over 20 of her patients had died.

And this was especially shocking, because most of those people who came for treatment only had minor illnesses when they came to Dr. Hazzard.

When family members of these victims went to the police, the police said there was nothing they could do, since people had voluntarily chosen (and paid!) for Dr. Hazzard’s help.

For this reason, no one could get the authorities to stop Dr. Hazzard.

That is until the day in 1911 when two wealthy sisters went to Dr. Hazzard for help.

The Only Way She Was Finally Stopped

Their names were Dora and Claire Williamson and they were wealthy British heiresses.

Dora and Claire with a friend (from historyandwomen.com)

Dora and Claire with a friend (from historyandwomen.com)

The women had stumbled upon Dr. Hazzard’s book and, because they were interested in alternative forms of medicine, decided to go visit her and receive treatment.

What seemed like a good idea turned into a nightmare.

The two sisters became so malnourished under Dr. Hazzard’s care that Claire ended up dying.

If Dora hadn’t been rescued from Dr. Hazzard’s sanitarium by family members, then she would’ve died also.

This is how she looked when she was rescued…


When her family found out that before Claire died she had signed over a portion of her inheritance to Dr. Hazzard’s practice, they contacted authorities and finally were able to get Dr. Hazzard investigated.

It was eventually discovered that Dr. Hazzard had had several wealthy patients die under her care.

And many of those individuals had signed over large portions of their estates just like Claire had done.

They finally had enough evidence to prosecute her.

On August 15, 1911, the authorities arrested Dr. Hazzard on charges of first-degree murder for starving Claire Williamson to death.

She was convicted and ending up spending 2 years in prison for the crime. (Doesn’t seem fair, does it?)

She (Tragically) Practiced What She Preached

Some might call Dr. Linda Hazzard a quack and evil and I’d have to agree.

But she believed in the virtues of fasting to her dying day.

In fact, she followed her own advice and experienced the same tragic results.

In 1938, at the age of 71, and in an attempt to cure an illness she had, Dr. Hazzard began a fast.

It was just a very short time later that she died of starvation.

The Moral of the Story

Content marketing is powerful, whether used for good or evil.

It’s so powerful that the one idea of creating content in the form of a book and/or through speeches has worked for many people throughout history and still works to this day.

It’s a time-tested method for spreading your ideas and establishing your credibility.

And, sadly, it worked for Dr. Linda Hazzard too.

It enabled her to ruin the lives of over twenty families, including Claire’s family.

But if content marketing can work powerfully for bad products, think of how powerfully it could work for great products.

The challenge for all of us is to harness this power and use it for great products and services and worthy endeavors.

I hope you except this challenge!

Additional Sources: SmithsonianMag.com and HistoryandWomen.com

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Scott Aughtmon
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to ContentMarketingInstitute.com and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave.

I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999.

===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.

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