Just hear me out. One emerging practice (content strategy) + one tactic (content marketing) = I’m not really sure.
Content Marketing: “Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.” –from the Content Marketing Wikipedia page created 25 February 2008
Content Strategy: “Content strategy has been growing as a practice within the industry of web development since the late 1990s. It is recognized as a field in user experience design but has also drawn interest from practitioners in adjacent communities such as content management, business analysis and technical communication.” –from the Content Strategy Wikipedia page created 08 April 2009
Then a funny thing happened about a year ago—the terms got squished together to form “Content Marketing Strategy.” I’m not sure how this happened or even what it means but it’s out there and to some people it means something.
In my opinion, “Content Marketing Strategy” is vacuous—there is no such thing. There is content marketing and there is content strategy. Or, to rollback a round of buzzwords, there is integrated marketing and there is UX Design. Either way, one is a tactic and one is a practice. I’m not shining a light on one to keep another one in the dark, but rather here to say that we all agree content is important. That includes IAs, ixDs, coders, graphic designers, and copywriters. It’s what we do about knowing content is important that counts. How we solve client’s problems is what matters.
Volume and repetition matter
The solution I hear most often from content marketing is “make more content, gain more trust.” From content strategy, it’s “content should drive all other practices.” Increasingly, you will find many articles that use the terms interchangeably, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing; primarily for the client who now has to deal with ever-finer slices of practitioner specialties and more difficult integration/PM issues.
I recently met with a friend of a friend about a website he was launching. His business was a data-based content creation & strategy play with all the requisite buzzwords in place, along with poor design, clunky marketing speak and a mish-mash of “content marketing” and “content strategy” definitions. I was at loss. Here was a very smart guy with good intentions going out into the market with one puzzle piece. The whole event felt like dropping your car off at a mechanic who asks you for a ride because his car doesn’t run.
Perhaps you don’t build trust?
Building trust goes way beyond the creation of content. (And yes, I’m guilty of oversimplifying its importance.) I’m slowing starting to realize that you can’t set out to build trust. When you do, it implies that you are building it in order to leverage it later—and that feels a little dirty. Trust has so many facets to it and is so subjective that I find it hard to believe there is a one size fits all solution that works. So if Content Marketing Strategy can live on the web, then I’m petitioning for Trust Strategy.
Perhaps content ________ isn’t about building anything but rather is just a requirement like air in your tires, ink in your pen and quality in your product/service.
A great user experience respects both the content and the reader (see Readability). A great user experience cares that labels fit inside buttons and ensures that “thanks for coming” takes precedence across all fields of practice from the first click to the last.