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How is content marketing different to other forms of marketing?

When it comes to marketing, there are a lot of different approaches you can take. Asana, for example, lists 19 different types on its website.

Some of these different forms overlap with one another. For example, our two main services, social media marketing and content marketing have some features in common. It’s not unusual for people to use social media as a tool to reach more people with their content marketing or for a social media strategy to be informed by your content marketing efforts.

Despite cross-overs though, each type of marketing is different. So, what separates content marketing from others?

What is marketing?

Quickly, before we get into what makes content marketing unique, we’re just going to set the foundations.

Marketing is a term that is often misunderstood. Not intentionally but if we don’t make this clear, it might seem odd that we’re claiming there are at least 19 different types of marketing.

Often, marketing is represented as just advertising and promotion. But, if we take it right back to basics to a concept called the 4Ps, marketing covers Price, Product, Place and Promotion.

Even the CIM defines marketing as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

This broader view of what marketing actually is makes it more understandable why there can be so many different types and more ways in which each type can be differentiated.

What is content marketing?

On our blog, we’ve previously defined content marketing as “the creation and sharing of material that aims to create interest in a brand, product or service without explicitly promoting it”.

Sometimes these dictionary-style definitions can seem a bit vague and, although it’s difficult to define without using either the word ‘content’ or ‘marketing’, in its simplest form, it’s very self-explanatory. It’s using content as part of your marketing.

It’s about building brand awareness and brand equity by producing content which brings value to your ideal client.

If done correctly, this will result in a more engaged audience who have a stronger relationship with your brand and, ultimately, buy more from you.

The ‘content’ side of content marketing can come in many forms. But some of the most common types used by brands include blogs, podcasts, newsletters and guides. But it can also include infographics, quizzes, webinars and so much more.

The history of content marketing

The term “content marketing” was coined in 1996 by John F. Oppendahl at a roundtable discussion during the American Society for Newspaper Editors’ conference.

However, the act of content marketing has been around much longer. It just never had a name!

For a long time, people thought John Deere’s The Furrow was the earliest example (we write about that in this blog post).

But there are much earlier examples.

If we want to go way back in time, there are reportedly cave drawings from 4200BC that describe “6 ways a spear can save you from a bear”. Maybe the family residing there were spear merchants, who knows?

Realistically, though, we’re looking at 1732 for the first business example.

This was when Benjamin Franklin (one of the founding fathers of the USA), produced Poor Richard's Almanack. It featured a calendar, weather and poems as well as astronomical and astrological information. He used this popular annual publication as a tool to promote his printing business.

Since then, there have been plenty of examples of brands utilising content marketing without realising it. And today, now we have a name for it, it continues to be a successful approach for many brands.

What isn’t involved in content marketing?

So far, we’ve spoken about what content marketing is. But, to help highlight how it is different from other forms of marketing, we’re going to spend a bit of time focusing on what content marketing isn’t.

One of the key differentiators from other forms of marketing is that there’s no direct sales pitch included. The focus is on bringing value to the audience rather than trying to drive action.

If your marketing is talking about features, benefits and snappy taglines, then you’re probably not using content marketing.

Also, if you’re after a quick fix, then content marketing wouldn’t be your go-to choice.

It’s about bringing value to your audience time and time again to build a long-term relationship. Not prompting snap, transactional, one-off purchases.

Content marketing is also not limited to just one distribution channel as is the case with some other forms.

We (Different Resonance) focus on how social media can be harnessed to amplify content marketing efforts. But, it can also take the form of email newsletters, blogs, YouTube channels and much more.

Wrapping Up

Content marketing can be compared to other approaches and even has some common features. But there are key features which set it apart.

1.) It is a long-term approach

2.) There is no direct sales pitch

3.) You have to create valuable content

Hopefully, this has explained a little more about what content marketing is and how it differs from other approaches you may have heard about.

If you think content marketing is the approach you want to take, we’d be happy to answer any further questions you may have.


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