Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing

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One of the things I’ve been confused about lately is the difference between content strategy and content marketing. The two concepts similarly blur the lines, but have two different applications.

I’ve been seeing this quote circulating amongst content strategists recently:

Content marketers draw on the wall with magic markers, while content strategists use fine pens.”

-Robert Rose.

While both pens and markers write, the purpose of each is different—the same with content marketing and content strategy. I think I finally understand!

Content Strategy

Content strategy, in a nutshell, is using principle foundations that inform content delivery. The content strategy looks at business objectives and uses content to achieve them.  Julia McCoy, author of “Practical Content Strategy and Marketing: The Content Strategy & Marketing Course Guidebook,” identifies content strategy focused on the “how and why” of content.

Content Strategists often ask themselves:

  • Why does this content matter?
  • Who is the audience that will be interacting with our content?
  • What problem am I hoping to solve for my audience?
    How does the audience usually interact with my content?
  • How will I deliver my content to my audience?
  • How will I manage and update my content?
  • How long will this content be relevant?
  • How can I optimize the visibility of my content through SEO tags?

Content Marketing

Once a strategy is in place, Content marketing is creating content that best employs a content strategy. Julia McCoy demonstrates content marketing answers the “what, where, and when” of content creation. 

Marketers need to figure out the best channel to reach an audience and at what times. Marketers also look at ways to engage their audience that promote the goals set in their content strategy. 

  • Does a video work for this content goal, or should I make a blog? 
  • Should I send my audience an email, or should I post our content in a tweet?
  • When is my audience most engaged?

Is Content Strategy Necessary?

Julia’s illustration on her website clarifies: Content strategy is the train that pulls the content cars, delivering it to an audience. 


Meghan Casey, Author of “The Content Strategy Toolkit,” agrees. Without a plan, people would just be making content without achieving business goals. Meghan writes:

Content strategy helps organizations provide the right content, to the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons.” 

Meghan Casey,

I’ve always been a content creator, and haven’t spent much time developing a content strategy. This research has inspired me to rethink and build my content strategy. My small business and my classroom could benefit from this more in-depth planning.

About the Author
About the Author

Drew Furtado is an Emmy Award winning filmmaker, and leader of a nationally recognized high school media arts communication department .

He develops guides and strategies for nonprofit and educational organizations to improve and grow their social media presence, website development, and communication practices that best engages audiences.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

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