Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy — What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter to Your Business?

The two terms can be defined in many ways, but the bottomline, as always, is figuring out how they relate to your business.

These past few days, we’ve been seeing an old digital marketing discussion once again making its rounds in social media. The question was, what’s the difference between content marketing and content strategy?

Content Marketing Institute first asked this in late 2013. Robert Rose, CMI’s Chief Strategy Officer, answered the question by explaining that “content marketers draw on the wall with magic markers, while content strategists use fine pens”.

In our own, very simplified words, what Rose was saying is that content marketing is a type of marketing, “using content so that it changes or enhances a behavior”. On the other hand, content strategy is the creation and management of content as an asset across an organization.

Rose defines the two terms as different approaches. If you’re a digital marketing profession or you’ve been practicing content marketing for a while (or both), it’s definitely worth checking out. 

More recently, BKA Content’s Greg Secrist also answered this question on Search Engine Journal. His explanation was much more simple: “content strategy is all-inclusive while content marketing refers to a single part of an overall content strategy.”

Secrist further goes to explain that content marketing is the practice of “a soft-sell sales approach to attract customers and retain them”. Content strategy, meanwhile, is “your master plan for using content in every single aspect of your business.”

With that said, let’s define these two terms as it relates to your business goals. Because Rose and Secrist’s definitions of content marketing don’t oppose each other, let’s agree to define it the same way.

In Indigo Media Labs’s introductory infographic, we define content marketing as “the strategy of creating and distributing high-quality content that is highly useful or entertaining or both, in order to drive action that profits your business.”

That means, instead of telling people outright to buy your products, you provide them with content that brings them value. Examples of this are how-to videos or articles that list inspirations for home decorating projects.

Before you publish articles, though, you need to figure out why you’re going to do it, and how. A good place to start would be your business goals. What do you want to achieve? Do you want more sales? More leads? A higher level of engagement? This is where a content strategy comes in.

Let’s say you’re a bank and you want to increase leads for your business loan products. A good content strategy would be to produce content that tells the story of how a business fuelled their growth through business loans, like American Express did.

Like Amex, you can publish the story in installments, each with its own web page. On each page, you can add a link that leads to a landing page, with a call-to-action that goes something like, “Click here to learn more about how our products can help your business.”

Part of your content strategy should also be about distribution. This means announcing your content on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This could also mean guest posting or contributing an article to a publication.

Of course, every business is different, and so is every campaign. You’ll need to formulate your strategy according to your best educated guess, execute, and then measure and learn. Good news is, we’ll also teach you the basics of digital marketing, so watch out for that.

Indigo Media Labs is a content-focused and data-driven digital marketing agency. Our strategies revolve around the lifeblood of your business: the customer. We create extremely high-quality content that builds trust, authority, and likeability for your brand. Ask us how we can help your business. We’d love to chat.

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