Content Strategy vs Content Marketing

Published on
April 6, 2020

Contrary to the opinion of many, content marketing and content strategy are not the same thing. In fact, they are interrelated but serve separate purposes. Something essential to understand if you are to be as effective with your business's marketing as possible.  

Robert Rose writing for the Content Marketing Institute uses the great metaphor that content marketing is like drawing on the wall with magic markers. Whereas content strategy is like writing things down in a fine nib pen.

What he means is marketing takes a more macro view, whereas content strategy is focused on the micro, a subject that will be explained further in the post below.

Content Marketing in the MACRO

Content marketing takes a macro approach because it is concerned with three main things:

  1. Telling the story of the organization or product
  2. Engaging an audience
  3. Using content to change behavior.

Telling a story

There are two critical aspects of telling a story that content marketers focus on. The first is who they are speaking it to. That is the specific demographic of people that they are looking to appeal too. Something fundamental to get right, if the marketing they create is to be effective.

Additionally, the ‘why’ of telling a story is important here as well. That is why you are creating the content, who it will help, and why your business is in the best position to offer something to customers that no one else has.  

Engage an audience

Another part of the macro content marketing approach is a focus on engaging the audience. That is, getting the demographic that you want to appeal to, to sit up and notice what you are trying to say.

Of course, there is a range of techniques that content marketers use for this purpose, including things like using engaging and emotive language or images, ‘and hooking’ consumers in with controversy or subversive content. Many content marketers also use more traditional storytelling methods for this purpose.

Additionally, content marketers need to stay ahead of the critical trends of how consumers access the content they are creating. For example, the rise of subtitled soundless videos is enormous at the moment. The reason being that many people watch them as part of a social media feed without actually clicking to fully open them.

Content to change or enhances a behavior

Finally, content marketers are concerned with the way content can be used to modify the behavior of those that consume it. In fact, in most cases, this is a matter of either enhancing a current behavior or changing a behavior entirely.

A great example of the latter being the governmental health warnings on Covid-19 behavior, as these are designed to reinforce social distances and enough people to stay in their homes. These being things that quite obviously fulfill the overall goal of why the content has been created.

In summary, therefore, content marketing can be described as a form of strategy in itself. That is an approach that uses content to engage, appeal, and create a relationship with consumers. A condition that can be used to change or enhance behavior as the business in question requires.

Content strategy in the MICRO

On the other hand, content strategy is a much more micro approach. It is the bread to the bakery of content marketing if you will.


To that end, content strategy is concerned with the actual creation of content. Of course, as you would expect from such a well-established tradition, there is a recognized process used to do this.

Generally, such a process will start with the organization working out what they want from their content. That is what the overall goal of creating it is. Whether that is to save lives as in the example above, increase sales, or anything else as defined by the parties involved.

Once an organization has defined its goals, it must then do the work of getting to know their audience. This means market research and lots of it. Something that should help to inform you of the type of content to use. Of which there are many, including podcasts, videos, silent videos, blog posts, articles, games, and images. Additionally, your market research should also inform the platform that it is best to publish on.

The next stage is to actually start to craft the content your business will be releasing. Something that should include reaching the right keywords, tags, and long-tail phrases that are most likely to get your content in front of the people you wish to target.


Next, it's time to publish the content that you may choose to do organically through one of the social media channels mentioned below, or by paying for its display. In fact, many organizations use a combination of both of these tactics. Although, whatever they choose will be backed up by research into what will most appeal to their target demographic. With some of the most popular platforms for content publication, including Twitter, YouTube, and Google Images.

Managing content as an asset

Finally, another micro aspect of content that strategists concern themselves with is helping organizations to manage content in the right way.

This is because to be as effective as possible, your content needs the correct metadata classification for you to be able to access and use it right away. That is, you need to know what consumers its aimed at and what is within the content. Then you will be able to deploy it most successfully. Something that the content marketers will thank you for because it will make their more macro tasks easier to complete.

Next Steps

In summary, content marketing and content strategy are linked, but definitely not the same thing. In fact, content strategy is concerned with the finer points of creation, publication, and management of content.

While content marketing, on the other hand, is all about the macro functions of telling an organizations' story, engaging an audience, and using content to change behavior.

Yes, they are inter-linked as we have seen, but they are most certainly not identical. A fact that it's well worth knowing if your organization needs to utilize content effectively, as most in the current market do.

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