Content Marketing vs Marketing Content
MARKETING GURUS WHO DON'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTENT MARKETING AND MARKETING CONTENT SHOULD JUST STFU...
Social marketing and digital advertising media are very attractive to small businesses because, at least nominally, they deliver a really big bang for the buck. Or in the words of marketing gurus, very high "ROI".
I suggest, however, that as a small-business operator, you make a big mistake if you take at face value that which is preached about marketing by self-ascribed marketing gurus on social media...
For example, just the other day, I read an article on "content marketing" that I could make neither heads nor tails of. I kept reading and re-reading sections, but I simply could not understand what the author, a self-proclaimed marketing "guru", was saying.
Now, I don't pretend to be any kind of a marketing guru or ninja or expert. I have, however, done quite a bit of marketing over the years, as a business executive, small-business owner/operator, and on contract as a copywriter and account exec for several marketing and advertising firms. So I understand something, if not everything about the topic. Yet, I struggled to understand what this particular author was saying.
Until that is, I realized he was switching between talking about "content marketing" and "marketing content" without indicating he was doing so and apparently without realizing he was doing it. Or maybe even without knowing the difference.
Content marketing comes in two varieties these days — outbound and inbound...
Outbound content marketing is, to all intents and purposes, the same as traditional print, radio, and television marketing, except that the predominating medium has shifted to the world of digital communications.
Some try to make a case that contemporary outbound content marketing is different from traditional (or legacy) marketing and advertising in that the traditional "message" has been replaced by content that provides value and benefit to the viewer even before any sales transaction completes. But to my mind, so did print, radio, and television marketing and advertising.
Print-advertising supported the delivery of editorial (informational) content in magazines. Radio-advertising supported the delivery of show content, music, comedy, drama, documentaries, etc. And television-advertising supported the delivery of content similar to that found on radio programs, except with visual content added.
In magazines, you paged through the ads as you read the editorial content. You listened to radio commercials in the course of enjoying the programming. And you watched television commercials in between taking delivery of the content you received.
Moreover, many of the magazines and shows delivered to the reader or listener much the same kind of informational content as is delivered now in "content marketing" — how to tips, consumer information, and product reviews, even documentaries.
Today, with the advent of digital media, content marketers who have grown up in the digital age want to think that content delivery as a hook to gain the attention of the market is something new and unique. But sorry, it just ain't so.
What is a break from traditional or "legacy" marketing is the immediate and interactive nature of digital media, and the resulting ability to do "inbound marketing" in a serious way...
Outbound Content Marketing involves push. Content, like advertising, is pushed out at targeted prospects in an effort to convince the target market of the value of your products services.
In contrast, Inbound Marketing involves pull, that is, it proceeds by way of building an interactive community within which to nurture brand recognition and loyalty.
Inbound marketing is a subtle, non-deceptive method for encouraging customers and prospects to think of, and come to you as a known and trusted resource when they are thinking of buying the type of goods or services you are selling.
By taking advantage of the interactive capabilities of the medium (online delivery of content), inbound marketing does indeed break with "legacy" marketing. Much more than outbound does.
Still, both outbound and inbound marketing use content to sell goods and services, other than the content itself...
The content in Content Marketing becomes a tool for building — among other things, market presence, credibility, and branding.
Which is what the self-proclaimed marketing guru referred to earlier simply didn't seem to grasp. In his rush to sell his B2B marketing services to his readers, he shifted seamlessly into talking about the importance and value of "marketing content", without distinguishing it from "content marketing".
This is not nitpicking. If you can't tell the difference between the tool and the work it does, you'll likely be a lousy mechanic. And if you can't tell the difference between content marketing and marketing content, you'll almost certainly be a lousy marketer. Not a marketing guru. — Phil Friedman
Postscript: This is an excerpt from my upcoming eBook, Small-Business Primer: Real -World Tips for Starting and Running Your Own Small Business. For information on securing a copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put "small-business book" on the subject line.
Author's notes: If you found this article of value, you might also want to look at some of my other writing about small business operations, management, and marketing:
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
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