For newcomers just learning about the fields of Content Strategy and Content Marketing, getting the semantics straight can be pretty confusing.
Lots of job posts for a “Content Strategist” really describe the role of a Content Marketer. Even the Content Marketing Institute has agreed that some of their own terminology has added to the confusion (and they’re the most highly regarded organization promoting Content Marketing today).
To try to clear up some of the confusion, I wrote an article for CMI entitled “A Take on 3 Confusing Terms: Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Content Marketing Strategy.”
Now I’ve added a video recapping the article for my upcoming online course, Getting Started with Content Strategy. Watch it or read the transcript below and see if it answers your questions about Content Marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
In the last video, we defined Content Strategy, and we mentioned that there’s some confusion between that and something called Content Marketing. This is where we try to clarify the relationship between Content Strategy and Content Marketing.
Content Marketing is another emerging discipline that’s growing right now. The Content Marketing Institute is probably the most visible, well regarded professional organization advancing that field. The define content marketing like this:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” (Source: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/)
So they describe Content Marketing as attracting and retaining an audience, with the ultimate goal of driving profitable action. Makes sense, right?
Here’s a graphic published with a blog post that I wrote for the Content Marketing Institute blog. It helps us distinguish between Content Strategy and Content Marketing.
Typical tools of a Content Marketer include:
- Editorial calendars
- Market segments
Content Marketing usually plans for things like:
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Publications and articles that DON’T necessarily have to do with a company’s products and services directly
Let’s compare this to the definition of Content Strategy that we looked at in the last video.
Content Strategy’s goal is to plan to create, deliver, and govern (or maintain) usable content.
Typical tools of a Content Strategist might include:
- Content audits and inventories
- Voice charts and style guides
- Copy decks
Content Strategy usually plans for customer-facing content related to a company’s products and services. That can include product descriptions, knowledge base articles, or labels on a form.
You’ll notice that one difference is that while Content Marketing focuses on using content to engage potential customers and drive profitable action, Content Strategy doesn’t necessarily do the same. It can, but it can also enable an organization to deliver and care for content that
- Teaches people to use a product
- Cuts down on support or customer service calls
- Fulfills the company’s legal requirements
In short, Content Strategy is a broader discipline. It can cover ANY type of content, from technical manuals to labels on a form, to blog posts. Content Marketing is a sub-discipline of Content Strategy.
This course focuses on Content Strategy. But if you’re really interested in learning more about Content Marketing, there is plenty of overlap between the two. And this course may give content marketers new ideas from the field of User Experience, to make your marketing even better.
To help visualize how our fields interact with each other, take a look at this “hive diagram” popularized by Kristina Halvorson.
My version of the hive diagram created by skillset.org. See the original (not including “content marketer”) at the Brain Traffic blog. (Editor’s note: the blog post I mentioned has been removed.)
Personally, I would put the Content Marketer right next to the Content Strategist, Web Editor, and Web Writer.
Both the Content Strategist and Content Marketer are responsible for creating valuable content. The content that they create might just be a little different.
Content strategists do some things that content marketers don’t, and vice versa. The area where the two functions overlap – where people are thinking strategically about content marketing—is content marketing strategy.
It doesn’t matter who’s doing that work in the middle; it could be a strategist doing content marketing work or a content marketer doing strategy work. What matters is that someone’s doing this work. With traditional marketing becoming “less and less effective by the minute,” this overlap area – content marketing strategy – may represent one of your organization’s biggest growth opportunities today.
I propose that we distinguish between these terms by distinguishing between the roles as follows:
A content strategist plans and guides content efforts across the organization, including marketing efforts.
A content marketing strategist plans and guides content marketing efforts specifically.
A content marketer may play a strategic role, a tactical role, or some combination of the two within the practice of content marketing.
I want to give a shout out to my friends at CMI – especially Marcia Riefer Johnston—for helping me clarify these topics. If you want to read more, you can check out the blog post that I wrote on the CMI website: “A Take on 3 Confusing Terms: Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Content Marketing Strategy.” I’ll include the link in the resources for this video.
Still have questions? Comment below!