What’s Your Definition of Content Marketing?

Content strategy and content marketing come together to make exceptional web contentThe streets were wet, the intersections blustery. I walked through the Gaslamp Quarter, my hair going every which way, to meet about 60 sponsors and speakers from the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego.

The small, red-walled restaurant was warm and crowded with men and some women grouped tightly and gesturing loudly with wide smiles — all in the business of online marketing. Internet marketing. And some content marketing. I believe I was the only content strategy company in the room. But that’s not unusual.

A glass of Malbec in hand, I stepped inside the circles. I asked about their software, their services, and — albeit indirectly — their definition of content marketing. A familiar face appears — it’s Joe! He’s a prominent content marketing pro in the industry, and we quickly compare notes.

I told him about my content strategy presentation that afternoon to a group of service professionals: think comptrollers and attorneys. None were familiar with content strategy. But several had ideas on content marketing:

“Content marketing is blogging, right?”

Joe felt the term “content marketing” attracted marketers and people focused on the benefits of marketing. I agreed content strategy is a more difficult concept to grasp, but once I explained it, it left my whole business group feeling naked and anxious about their content. I had explained:

“Content marketing is outreach. Content strategy leads to self selection.”

Later that night, I spoke to an account director who was seriously passionate about her testing software and services. Listening to her:

“Content marketing is the valuable content that feeds into a multivariate landing page.”

All right. That works. But how did it get there? What’s the strategy behind the content tested? How do you know the winning (converting) combination will share the brand story most effectively? Here’s what it boils down to:

“Content marketing is a what. Content strategy is the how.”

Content marketing needs content strategy like any other online initiative that involves content. And your content strategy likely needs a content marketing component.

The point though is: content marketing and content strategy are not interchangeable.

Content Marketing Deliverables

I realize those are all abstract definitions. Here are some examples of content marketing deliverables:

  • Company-published blog articles
  • Industry-published blog articles
  • Public facing white papers
  • Affiliate content on partner sites, including photos, videos, calculators, articles
  • Content posted on social media sites, like Pinterest, Flickr, Vimeo
  • Company profiles on social media platforms or industry directories
  • Conversations on social media channels, such as Twitter or Facebook
  • SEO driven web site pages
  • Content for campaign-driven landing pages

And here are some examples of content strategy deliverables. To bring all this together into an actionable, effective plan, you need strategy. Call it a content marketing strategy, if you’d like, but whatever you do, be sure it aligns with your overall content strategy for the most powerful outcome.

What’s your definition of content marketing? What kind of content marketing deliverables are you producing? Do share!

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    Shelly Bowen is the founder of Pybop, a boutique content strategy consultancy dedicated to creating exceptional content for websites, mobile, and video. Contact Shelly by email.


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