Content is not the same as content marketing

Editor's Note: There is still confusion about the difference between content and content marketing. It's not about the definition, but about the difference between creating content and practicing content marketing. This article is updated to provide you with a better understanding and to be shared with your teams and leaders.

An ebook, a webinar and a white paper do not constitute marketing content. Ads are not marketing content. Social media posts are not marketing content. Content marketing is not the same thing as content marketing.

But what is the difference between content and content marketing? The answer is the publisher-like destination and the regular frequency of quality content that you use to attract and develop an audience. You do not own the public on social platforms. And an ebook is not coherent enough to create the confidence expected by the public of today.

An ebook is not #contentmarketing, says @BrennerMichael. #CMWorld Click to Tweet

Content marketing is about attracting an audience to an experience (or a "destination") that you own, create and optimize to achieve your marketing goals.

Content is everywhere. Product content, sales content, customer service content, event content, employee-generated content, marketing and campaign content. Even advertising is content.

With content marketing, you attract an audience to a brand-owned destination rather than interrupting or buying an audience on someone else's platform.

RELATED CONTENT HANDPICKED: What is the difference between content marketing, branding and aboriginal advertising?

Think about the trends and commercial prospects of American Express:

Or Red Bull's The Red Bulletin:

Or one of my favorite destinations in leadership-oriented marketing,

These are three excellent examples of content marketing destinations (content concentrators) belonging to brands, resembling and acting as publisher sites, and in different ways generating commercial value for brands.


The problem of content

Everyday I talk to people about content marketing. And I find that the concept of having a content marketing destination, owned by the brand, to serve as a property to its content efforts, is all too often lost.

Most marketing teams focus on creating content that supports the brand or its products. You create this content primarily because someone you asked for it. You do not create content because it meets the needs of customers.

The content problem is identical to that of campaigns. They are only visible to a small group of your audience for a short time. Until now, one of the major problems of most content was that they were created for the boss. It changes. Successful marketers prioritize audience needs before promotional messaging, according to the 2019 CMI B2B Content Marketing Study: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends:

The results easily illustrate the advantages of this approach. If your content is not created for the audience you are trying to reach, engage and convert, its shelf life will be negligible. Stop creating content for sale. Stop creating content that no one will ever see.

Stop creating content – create a content mark.

Stop creating #content. Create a brand of content, says @BrennerMichael. #CMWorld Click to Tweet


Promise of a content mark

Seth Godin's 2008 proclamation: "Content marketing is all that remains of marketing" continues to ring true.

Many people confuse content with content marketing easily. Content marketing is a strategic solution to a strategic problem. To reach, engage and convert new customers for your business, you need to create content that people want.

And you have to attract them to a content marketing destination. According to author and speaker Andrew Davis, "Developing a brand of content relies on an audience – first approach that builds a faithful professional narrative.

An approach first focused on the public for storytelling = a loyal audience for your #content brand. @DrewDavisHere Click to Tweet

Joe Pulizzi wrote Content Inc., an entire book aimed at helping brands and entrepreneurs attract an audience BEFORE developing their products and services.

Joe's work has been an inspiration to me for years. I used the steps recommended by Joe in this manual to guide the approach I use to the content marketing destination of my company, Marketing Insider Group. I blog as a marketing insider for over seven years, publishing one to two times a week, to create an audience of motivated readers. As a result, I decided to offer services to brands seeking to determine how to develop an effective content marketing strategy.


The difference is the destination

OK, you got the message. You agree to go beyond creating higher quality content and act as a publisher. But how do you build an effective content marketing destination? Follow these eight steps:

1. Determine Your Content Marketing Mission Statement

This should support your brand mission and put your customers first. Define who your target audience is, what topic or topics you support and what value you bring to your audience.

2. Choose an URL

Determine if your content marketing destination should be your company's brand domain ( or a non-branded site.

For example, e-commerce solutions provider BigCommerce shows small retailers the basics of online shopping functionality, conversion optimization, digital marketing and customer experience via a simple blog URL on the same domain:

On the other hand, is a domain independent of its owner, Adobe.

3. Determine how your site will be marked

Similar to the previous point, it is different in terms of branding. A content site on the domain must contain at least some elements of your company's brand. HP's corporate community is a good example:

A site on # domain must contain at least some elements of your company's brand. @BrennerMichael Click to Tweet

On an off-domain content site, your creative direction should take care of the subject in which you want to become an authority. Here's how SAP does it with the site I created for them over seven years ago, Digitalist Mag:

4. Think of the elements of an effective destination for content marketing

Your site should include all components typically included in publisher sites, such as:

Categories at the top to display the topics you cover.
Frequently published articles with authors and visible publication dates.
Visuals to support the subject and break the text.
Focus on growing your audience by including calls to subscribe in your updates.
Highlights of the most powerful content allowing readers to easily discover your best content.
Calls for action, an offer or a contact page for those who wish to contact you directly.
Social sharing options so your readers can easily help promote your best content.

5. Create a plan to support visual content

It is difficult enough to do all the above. But once you do, you will find that visual content is a challenge. You do not need to break your piggy bank to incorporate visual elements. You can cover and integrate the visual content of other people. You can create SlideShare decks for little or no budget. Better, you can tell stories with visuals. The Information is Beautiful data visualization blog tells a story with numbers with each of its messages.

You do not need to break your bank account to incorporate visual elements, explains @BrennerMichael. #CMWorld Click to Tweet

6. Building the site to focus on subscriptions

I know I repeat this step because it's important. Subscribers are a measure of reach, commitment and conversion. They represent the audience of the readers who invite you in their overflowing inbox. Optimize for them. Build your list. Then create a climate of confidence by giving them systematically excellent content that they can only find in their inbox . This is a crucial step in educating your customers, especially if you are a professional service provider or a B2B company.

7. Publish in a Consistent Way

If you cover a topic, publish at least once a week. If you cover two topics, publish at least twice a week. If possible, publish daily on content categories that will attract the right audience. Our research shows that increasing the frequency of quality content generates a predictable and sometimes exponential return on investment.

The increase in #content quality frequency offers a predictable and exponential ROI via @MKTGInsiders. #recherche Click to Tweet

8. Define your measurement plan

You do not need to choose 65 steps to follow. Just look at the traffic (visitors and page views), commitments (social sharing, comments, time spent on the site) and conversion (subscribers, contact form submissions).

By following these steps, you can create a content-driven marketing destination to reach, engage, and convert new customers for your business.


Join Michael Brenner to share the fundamentals of creating, documenting and implementing a successful content strategy at Content Marketing World 2019. Sign up today to reserve your place for the workshop of September 3rd. And stay at the entire conference from September 3rd to 6th.

Cover image of Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute

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