I’ve been asked to do a pre-print review of a content marketing book authored by a leading light in the content marketing world. The key thing that stood out for me was the lack of clarity around what content strategy is versus content marketing. No one seems to agree completely and there are a number of definitions that overlap or down right confuse.

I also come across this often when talking to businesses about who does what and what skills they need to do it.

To put it simply content strategy is concerned with all the content produced in a business. Whilst content marketing strategy is concerned with using content to market the business and ultimately drive sales.

I find it easiest to understand what we should be working on by placing these different strategies in a hierarchy within the business.

  1. At the highest level you’ll have your ‘Business strategy’. This basically says why you are in business and why you will succeed in whatever you do. You mission statement would be a representation of that strategy. All other strategies in your business should flow from this topline strategy. As a simplistic example it may include, for a ‘whitegoods’ manufacturer:

“Make our products the easiest to use and service on the market”

  1. From this you would then develop your ‘content strategy’. This would support, and be driven by, the business strategy. It defines how you will develop and manage content as an asset to the business. Following on from the example above with a very simplified example:

“Create extensive user and technical guides with the help of real users and engineers and deliver them in multiple formats”

  1. From this you would develop your content marketing strategy. Broadly it defines what the messages are and how you will use the content you produce to engage with your customers and drive sales. For example, one content marketing strategy may be:

“Use the customer user guides for acquisition and retention by promoting them extensively and using them to support different stages of the customer journey”

Although the example above is very simplistic in reality a content strategist would work closely with a content marketing strategist to work out the details of a content distribution plan (in smaller companies it may be the same person)

In broad terms there are five questions to ask when understanding content within your business and which strategy (and people) provide the answers;

content strategy guide

What is most important in all of this is that you actually have a content strategy and content marketing strategy in the first place. According to the content marketing institute only 32% of all B2B marketers have a defined content marketing strategy but 88% use content marketing. They also show that those that have a strategy are overwhelmingly more successful at it.

So cutting through the confusion and having some clarity has definite business benefits.