The difference between content marketing and content strategy

Suppose you want to reach a destination “A”. In order to reach “A” you start walking and let us call that walking content marketing. Content strategy is the path that you take to ensure a safe and speedy arrival at “A”. If content marketing is an action, then content strategy is the brain behind that action.

Strategy, as we all know, is a series of actions that we take in order to arrive at a desired result. There is no use performing tasks without having an idea of what you need to do, at what time, for whom, and how.

Does content marketing precede content strategy or is it the other way around? Ideally, it is the other way around and in fact they both need to go parallel. But if I work for you, I would start with the latter.

Content strategy

As mentioned above, our actions must be well thought of if we want to achieve something. Here is what content strategy involves:

  • Knowing why you want to publish and distribute content
  • Figuring out whom you are going to target, and why
  • Devising data collection and analysis methodologies
  • Creating a content writing and publishing roadmap to figure out what themes and subjects you will be focusing on
  • Shortlisting channels (search engines, PPC marketing, social media or promotional campaigns) you will be using to disseminate your content
  • Drawing up an audience engagement policy
  • Deciding what content formats you will be putting your energies into

First of all you need to know what is the purpose of publishing and distributing content and exactly why you need content marketing? How it can serve your business and help you promote your cause?

In order to be a successful communicator, you must know whom you’re going to communicate to. You should know your audience, you should know what they want, what they’re looking for, what are their concerns.

Data insight is a great power. When you set in motion your content marketing strategy, you will need to constantly analyze your data so that you can make timely changes.

A content writing and publishing roadmap is needed so that you remain focused and you always know what you’re going to published in order to cater to your core audience.

Merely publishing content doesn’t help you much these days. This is where content marketing comes in. You need to promote and broadcast your content so that it reaches the maximum number of people. For that you need to shortlist channels that you’re going to use to distribute your content, for example search engines, social networking websites like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.

You also need to constantly engage your audience. Unlike conventional marketing, content marketing involves two-way communication between you and your audience (your customers and clients). Without meaningful and regular engagement it’s difficult to establish a rapport and make yourself more relatable and identifiable.

Content can be of multiple formats and if you have limited budget, you cannot target all the existing formats. For example, you can have written content (content writing, etc.), videos, presentation slides on SlideShare, images on your own blog, Facebook and Pinterest, sketches, infographics and basically, everything that you can use to communicate data and ideas. You may like to do something like content writing or images in the beginning and later on start focusing on other formats of content too.

This basically sums up your content strategy.

Content marketing

This involves folding your sleeves and actually getting down to the work. According to the parameters drawn during the strategy part, you start writing, publishing and distributing your content. Content marketing is the operational part. You have to ensure regular publishing of blog posts, articles and all the necessary business pages that you think can help your customers and clients understand your point of view better.

After publishing your content you need to make sure that it reaches your target audience. You have to distribute your content using the pre-decided channels. Content marketing is more repetitive and might also be the most difficult because it is your persistence that pays off finally. No matter what great content strategy you have devised for yourself, unless you can implement it over a long period of time, it is not going to work.

What should a small business focus on, content marketing or content strategy?

Actually, strategy is always there, whether you consciously implement it or not. I know many bloggers and entrepreneurs who built their business on the strength of their content and there was always an underlying content strategy in the way they published and promoted their content. They had a clear idea of what they wanted to publish and for whom. Of course all of them confess that they wasted lots of time and effort figuring out what worked and what didn’t. This is where a pre-defined strategy can help you. It can help you optimize your effort, reduce content marketing time cycle and give you structured results instead of haphazardly doing things, getting random results and then taking the next steps accordingly.


Amrit Hallan