Content Strategy and Content Marketing Myths and Musings

Earlier this month, the Content Strategy Forum published an article of epic proportions (12 contributors from 7 countries) to provide a definitive look at the work of the content strategist and content marketer.

Major kudos to Kelly Harbaugh for facilitating the creation of this mammoth piece.

As you might expect, the collaboration produced much lively discussion —which is still active over on Google+— around similarity, disparity, and clarity in our definitions. But as content marketing becomes an increasingly important piece of a brand’s digital presence, it is important that we clarify what, who, and how content marketing is (and isn’t).

Myth 1: Content marketers and content strategists serve the same functions.

While the role of the content strategist sits at the intersection of information architect, interaction designer, programmer, designer, and copywriter, you would likely place the function of content marketer at the crux of content strategist, copywriter, and visual designer. This isn’t to say that content marketers aren’t considering broader brand interactions or CMS considerations; however, we found those functions to fall primarily in a more strategic content role.

As with most marketing roles, though, content marketers should still be savvy to the technology they need to produce and optimize their efforts.

See our take on Richard Ingram’s Collaboration with Content Strategist diagram for an illustration.

Myth 2: Content marketers are primarily concerned with online marketing pieces, like blogs.

True, content strategists often get the credit for tasks like content modeling to ensure content is “future-friendly” and platform appropriate. Content marketers are also considering content formats, and should be thinking about the best channels to create, publish, distribute, and promote in for their audience. However, it’s not uncommon to see an editorial plan that is centered around formats beyond blog posts, like Red Bull’s robust video channel.

Again, a deep familiarity with technology and CMS is ideal (if not crucial). The bottom line is that content marketing comes in many shapes and sizes that still speak to a strategic editorial plan.

See Content Marketing Deliverables and Content Strategy Deliverables for a more detailed breakdown.

Myth 3: Content marketing and content strategy are two totally different things.

As should hopefully be evident through the constant confusion and debate on the topics, these are two sides of the same coin. Or, as I like to think of it, content marketing is to a square as content strategy is to a rectangle.

Put another way, Derek Phillips (Connective DX’s Content Strategy Discipline Lead) aptly says, “Not all content is content marketing; but when it is, it had better be strategic!”

Though the two are distinct, they have many entwined components and shared responsibilities. See just a few ways the work may overlap.

What ways do you see the role of the content marketer and content strategist coming together? What considerations or deliverables do you find are unique to each?

About the Author
Katie Del Angel

Formerly the Marketing Manager at Connective DX, Katie was responsible for content marketing and community building for the agency.

More articles from Katie Del Angel


3 responses… read them below or add one.

  1. Ryan says:

    Completely agree with your second point, but points #1 and #3 seem confused and contradictory!
    I’d deem strategy to be the defining element of content marketing. It’s strategy that allows copywriting and design to become effective marketing tools, and without any form of content strategy in place, you’re not a marketer – just a writer. You seem to disagree in your first point, and agree in your third.
    Having said that, love the quote from Derek Phillips, and thank you for the link to the Content Strategy Forum!

  2. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the comment. I suppose my “more strategic role” diction can seem contradictory, though what I’m getting at isn’t to imply content marketers aren’t thinking strategically. I emphasize that in the first half of the sentence. But thinking about a brand’s content at scale or which CMS to select, for instance, I’d say belong to the content strategist and less likely a content marketer.

    Hopefully these are read as they are: myths. So the statement “they are totally different things” and “they serve the same functions” are untrue. But I can see how, if read just as they are without the explanations, they seem to contradict one another. Essentially all we’re saying is they are not completely unrelated, they have very distinct and different roles, and here I break that down further. Does that clear it up at all?

    Thanks again for your feedback!

  3. Mike McGinns says:

    I don’t know how more right can this article be a collaboration and convergence of online portals with mobile phones, social computing, document management, analytics, e-commerce and much more is inevitable. The world of technology has become a lot different. Big and mid-size companies are in need of a better platform to diversify their company’s needs. This is why we picked Centralpoint by Oxcyon. Centralpoint has social capabilities that make it easy for our company to communicate with all departments. I really was impressed with how you can turn a report and video into a profit with their ecommerce function. It was easy to make the choice to switch to Centralpoint knowing that the User Experience Portals would be the right course of action between our clients and us.

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