Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island somewhere, content marketing has likely been on your radar. If you’re new to content marketing, things can get a little hazy, especially if you’re someone who knows they need to be doing it but you’re just not sure what it is or how to go about it.
Content marketing is quickly becoming one of the most overused terms among marketers. There’s no arguing that it’s crucial, but there’s an underlying catalyst that I don’t hear nearly as much: Content Strategy.
It’s easy to get the two confused so let me explain how they differ and how they complement each other to make your online marketing perform.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a soft-sell sales approach to attract customers and retain them through creating and delivering relevant, meaningful content. It’s essentially a combination of sales techniques and organic marketing, all in one.
Content marketing requires a considered, deliberate approach to selling that results in prospects feeling like they are becoming better informed through your content. In content marketing, you target specific audiences you want to “pitch” content to (via your website and social media), and once they engage, you work to drive profitable customer actions through consistent content you feel will help shape their behavior and result in conversion.
Examples of content marketing are blog posts, white papers, case studies, PR, social media marketing, inbound marketing, PPC, SEO, and more.
What is Content Strategy?
Content strategy is the masterplan for using content in every single aspect of your business. It’s an organization’s blueprint for exactly how its onsite/offsite content will be used to accomplish business goals.
A solid content strategy answers any and all content usage questions such as:
- Who are you as a brand? (core values)
- Why do people choose you over your competitor?
- Who is your target audience(s)?
- Who are your competitors?
- What questions do your target customers have?
- What specific types of content do customers need in all phases of the buyer cycle?
- Who will create and produce our content?
- How will you distribute your content – which platforms work best at reaching your target audience?
- How often should you publish?
- Who is in charge of your content?
What I’ve listed here is small slice of a complete content strategy pie.
So what’s the difference between content strategy and content marketing? Content marketing is simply an appendage to your overall content strategy. It focuses solely on the creation and publication of content for specific audiences in order to motivate customers to engage.
Content marketing can only live up to its fullest potential if there is a strong content strategy foundation holding it up.
Developing your content strategy masterplan requires time, research, thought, and strategic planning. It’s an investment that will allow you to know exactly what, why, and how your business will leverage content to better accomplish your goals.
Marketers with a documented content strategy report higher ROI for their social media and other online marketing efforts.
Sadly, the investment it takes to develop a solid content strategy causes too many companies to completely skip it and focus solely on content marketing (the fun stuff).
If you’re new to content marketing, don’t make the mistake of relying only on your “creative side.” Every success has optimal balance – the right mix – that got it to the finish line.
Combine equal parts creative and strategic to maximize your content marketing.