A Content Marketer’s Guide (Part 1: Basic Principles)
Let’s be honest. Content marketing is a totally different practice, compared to content strategy. But, are they related in any way? Personally, I cannot stress out enough the need for content strategy within a content marketing approach. I have seen way too many agencies doing themselves a complete disservice by assigning a content strategy planning professional into a content marketing project, and vice versa. Furthermore, the vast majority of marketing organizations have already started reorganizing themselves, placing strategic content management as their centralized force. This leads managers feeling more and more like fish out of the water, mainly because they possess a particular skill set that is ideally-suited to one practice over the other.
In order to manage our strategies effectively, let us see where exactly the differences between content marketing and content strategy lie, as we move into our budget for fiscal year 2014.
Definition of Content Marketing
Attempting to describe the distinctions between these two, we could seek into the most prevailing definitions of content marketing. Whatis.com retracts a definition from their Content Management Glossary, according to which:
“Content marketing is the publication of material designed to promote a brand, usually through a more oblique and subtle approach than that of traditional push advertising. The essence of good content marketing is that it offers something the viewer wants, such as information or entertainment”.
This means that content marketers try to drive customer action that would bring increased profits, through a specific technique that not only creates, but also distributes all valuable (and of course relevant) content, in order to attract and engage a target audience that has been carefully and clearly defined. They draw and develop a, let’s, outline of the story your business wants to tell the world, and try to think of ways to influence your target audience’s behavior and finally get them engaged, through content.
Bottom line, at its heart, we see content marketing as an approach that uses content to fortify and build strong ties with customers; a marketing strategy, indeed.
Definition of Content Strategy
From the 10 different definitions offered in Bussolati, I would like to stand out Kristina Halvorson’s way of interpreting what content strategy really stands for. As she says, content strategy is:
“Planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content”.
We could say that a content strategy actually seeks to incorporate and use content as part of an organization’s strategic assets. This is why, to many entrepreneurs, their company’s core mission is to have good content that, if managed effectively and efficiently, could bring you to your business objectives.
Erin Kissane has written a very interesting book, called The Elements of Content Strategy, where she quotes:
“Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design.”
Well, this definitely resonates with me, perfectly fine!
If I wanted to over simplify things, I would say that a content strategist answers all “hows”, while the content marketer works on the “whys”. Together, they make a powerful team that addresses all the “wheres” and “whats”. It is the content marketer’s job to make an outline and plan the ways brand awareness is built, while ensuring the brand’s processes involved (management, language, publication, etc.) work efficiently and consistently across various teams is what a content strategist is mostly focused on.
As we can see, the two approaches vary. So, it is up to you to determine whether your content marketer will also handle the content strategist’s task, and vice versa. Can they be executed by the same person? You will need to decide on that. I am just a person trying to offer up a piece of advice, which is the outcome of practicing content marketing for quite some time now.
So, whether you are an agency or a brand, it might be better if you recognized the distinction between a Content Strategist and a Content Marketing Strategist, and assign the right task to the right person. For practitioners, search in your heart to find what you love doing most and go for this practice head over heels.
From my personal experience, most content strategists I know do not like the idea of being content marketers, and, of course, the other way around. Being a content marketer myself, I could not say words to express my admiration to content strategists enough. On every marketing team I am blessed to work with, I find content strategists the ones that save the day, by making sure we (content marketers) do not blow up the place!
So, if you are a content marketer, I am just pointing out some content strategy principles and how they apply. After all, if this discipline is well understood, we could all benefit, since we will be able to assign our projects to the right people. Just Look for the expert perspective of thought leaders in the field of content marketing and content strategy, as well as updated content strategies that Websay Writers will be posting from here after…
Concluding, as content marketers allowed to tell your story, it is our job to make it look easy and create customer engagement. Like a lovely quote by Mark Caine says,
“Meticulous planning will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous.”
If I know one thing, it is that: Every content marketing strategies that look effortless and spontaneous is the result of a smart content strategy at their core.