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The difference between a content marketer and a content strategist

We recently published a post called 16 signs you’re a content strategist (take a look and come back if you’ve not seen it!)

One of the ‘signs’ we listed was the following:

11. You say you’re not a marketer but some days the lines are a little too blurred for your liking

I was recently asked on Linkedin what I meant by this, so I thought it would be useful to write a blog about it. After all, for every one person that asks there are probably 50 that are wondering!

In the simplest of terms, what I’m trying to say is that there’s a difference between content ‘marketing’ and content ‘strategy’ and as a strategist you’re not necessarily a marketer.

However, the line between these two things is a fine one at best and each needs the other to survive.

Here’s where I see the difference:

While content marketing is the product of modernised marketing techniques, content strategy is the product of modernised publishing techniques. The former holds marketing theory at its core, while the latter is hell-bent on editorial theory. However, both hands need to know exactly what the other is doing to function efficiently.

The blur, I believe, is the result of content marketing leading the charge in the industry, which meant that for a long time content marketers were being held responsible for the production and strategy of the actual content. This however, is the job of a content strategist (someone with publishing nous) who has experience in writing for specific audiences.

Let’s break it down into roles:

A content marketer should be expected to think in ‘big picture’ terms and strategise across platforms, taking into account the way in which content can be best utilised and amplified to generate the desired results.

A content strategist on the other hand is the person who will think about the ‘micro’ details. They will strategise what exactly is to be said and how. They will play a heavy role in the production of the content and will be expected to understand how it will impact on an individual level.

We cannot ignore that fact that content marketing comprises the word ‘marketing’ and as such, content marketers have a responsibility to think as marketers. A content strategist lies more in line with brand journalism as it holds publishing practices close.

How can we help identify these differences in the market:

Agencies: Hire content strategists and marketers. Use your content marketers to think big picture and work closely alongside the client while your strategists busy themselves with the actual production and strategy of the content.

Businesses: What do you need more? A content marketer who can outsource content strategy/production? Or a content strategist/producer who can work alongside your marketing team?

Individuals: Ask yourself where your passion lies? Do you see yourself leading the content marketing charge and scoping out big picture strategies with your client or do you see yourself thinking about the finer details of content, the integrity, every last conversation, every last customer.

Have I missed anything? Let me know!

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