Understanding The Difference Between Content and Content Marketing

See what 1400+ marketers had to say about the top marketing trends for 2024.

Though content and content marketing sound similar and are even used interchangeably by many, they are not exactly the same thing, though they do somewhat overlap. To put it more succinctly, the difference between content and content marketing lies in its purpose. The question that needs to be answered is: What is the motivation for your content? If you are trying to attract an audience, optimize, build and cumulate a following, you need to aim for content marketing. By contrast, content is simply providing information. This can include campaign content, customer service content, product content, e-books, a webinar, advertising and sales content.

The Definition of Content

According to Michael Brenner of Content Marketing Institute, “Content is typically produced because someone in an organization asked for it while ‘content’ paired with ‘marketing’ is what the audience wants.”

Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute founder defined content as “compelling information that informs, engages, or amuses.”

In it’s most basic form, content is simply information. Of course, when you use content in combination with marketing, that is when the magic happens as hinted at by Brenner.

More on How Content Marketing Differs From Basic Content

According to a Content Marketing Institute article written by Michael Brenner, “With content marketing you are attracting an audience to a brand-owned destination verses interrupting or buying an audience on someone else’s platform.”

Content marketing hubs that look like publisher sites, but are owned by brands are most valuable to a brand. Two good examples of this are the Red Bulletin Magazine, owned by Red Bull and Business Trends and Insights by American Express.

State of Marketing Report 2024

Content is Everywhere and Often Inward Focused But Content Marketing is Results Focused

Basic content, not tied to marketing, such as ads or campaigns, is only visible or applicable for a short period. It is created for one purpose, usually commissioned by the boss of a company. When content marketing is employed, you stop creating content and begin creating a brand. Although content marketing and content or regularly confused and often overlap, “content marketing is a strategic solution to a strategic problem.” Its goal is to covert, engage and reach new customers.

Often Content Marketing Includes Content Outside The Scope of a Brand

An example of this is when you read a newsletter or blog post, covering financial marketing trends produced by a fund investment company. The post has little to nothing to do with the funds themselves, but the information is valuable, interesting, and educational. This is a great example of content marketing in the modern age. It can also be a destination hub as mentioned above.

Creating Audience Worth Content to Promote Brand Loyalty

The content itself is informative and enjoyable to the reader, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with the product sold. Readers or site visitors will so much enjoy the destination, newsletter or blog, that they become brand loyal. Again, remember content marketing isn’t about you, your brand, your products or your services, it’s about your audience. When you become an authoritative resource on helpful subjects, your brand will earn your customers’ trust and subsequent loyalty.

How to Build an Engaged And Interested Audience

Above all else, your content itself must be valuable to your audience in order to serve the purpose its intended. Valuable content will attract your target audience, compel them to engage and encourage ongoing interaction by prompting readers to become a subscriber, customer or hopefully both. When your audience is well-established, your fresh content will work to gather customer insight, increase sales and even promote your customers to become brand advocates.

One good example of this in action the content platform Master This created by Liberty Mutual insurance company. Of course, the end goal or purpose was to increase insurance sales, but the content on the site is focused on more than types of insurance products. It is informative and engaging. Master This recently expanded to partner with Amazon’s Alexa and HowStuffWorks for an even greater audience.

Why You Need Content Professionals

As we have explained above in depth, content marketing is much more than basic content. While there is a place for content on its own, in the form of ads, books, campaigns or inner company newsletters, the vast majority of your business content creation should be audience focused. In other words, you need to evolve from just creating brand focused content to embracing audience engaging content marketing.

Of course, to have fresh, relatable, educational content at the ready, you need to hire professional freelance writers to get the job done. Allow our team of writers at Writer Access to partner with you in focused content marketing. Let us worry about creating new content for you, you just focus on creating a brand worthy of the following content marketing will likely generate. Contact us at Writer Access to get started on your content marketing journey or to take your current strategy up a notch.


2024 State of Marketing Report

Your golden ticket to crush your goals with data-driven insights!

2024 State of Marketing Report

Your golden ticket to crush your goals with data-driven insights!

Subscribe to our blog

Sign up to receive Rock Content blog posts

Rock Content WriterAccess - Start a Free Trial

Order badass content with WriterAccess. Just as we do.

Find +15,000 skilled freelance writers, editors, content strategists, translators, designers and more for hire.

Want to receive more brilliant content like this for free?

Sign up to receive our content by email and be a member of the Rock Content Community!

Talk to an expert and enhance your company’s marketing results.

Rock Content offers solutions for producing high-quality content, increasing organic traffic, building interactive experiences, and improving conversions that will transform the outcomes of your company or agency. Let’s talk.