A Line in the Sand: Marketing Strategy vs. Content Strategy

4 minute read

Team Kapost

Marketing and content strategies depend on one another to be successful—and often build off one another into a cohesive strategy—but they are two distinct functions in an organization.

Marketing strategists are responsible for developing overarching frameworks for reaching customers. These individuals build messaging programs, develop buyer personas, conduct market research, map customer journeys, and develop the strategy for pricing and product feature testing.

Content strategists fit into this scaffolding, often serving as a liaison between sales functions. These individuals answer questions about how and where to communicate brand promises to audiences, develop educational content, and determine the channels for reaching audiences. Content strategists study personas and buyer journeys to develop educational assets, use storytelling to support sales cycles, and determine how to scale relationships.

Marketing strategy informs content strategy, and content strategy informs marketing strategy.

Both functions rely on analytics to uncover communication and relationship-building opportunities. Both tackle the same challenge—outreach, engagement, and conversion—from different perspectives, enabling organizations to move faster with their marketing. But one risk that content and marketing strategists run into is a “too many cooks” complex. Both functions focus on solving similar challenges, and it’s easy to fall into a dynamic of seeing growth, retention, and customer happiness through one lens.

Here are some tips to help the two roles work together more effectively.

Divide and Conquer

The Problem and Solution Statement

Marketers often have a broad-spectrum birds’ eye view into their customer bases. With access to multiple analytics tools, deploying campaigns across segments, and fine-tuning performance through A/B tests, marketing strategists have a clear view into bottlenecks, business opportunities, and potential gaps. With this perspective, marketers are well-equipped to determine who an audience should be and what message a company should communicate. The marketer’s goal is to share the right message, to the right customer, at the right point in the buyer journey. That’s the problem statement.

In tandem, content strategists can focus how to shape the solution statement. While marketers pinpoint problems to solve and areas for your company to grow, content strategists can focus on shaping messaging, carving out differentiators, and digging deep to frame solutions in the form of stories to tell. Both perspectives add up to a holistic perspective.

Approaches to Research

Marketing and content strategists use research to do their jobs. But the types of research that these functions pursue differ in nature. Marketing strategists will often rely on deductive reasoning—the process of studying trends at a high level to deduce judgment calls. Meanwhile, content strategists use a different type of research strategy based on inductive reasoning. In contrast to deductive reasoning, the goal of inductive reasoning is not to make deductions from a high-level perspective. Rather, content strategists use research-driven techniques in storytelling to work up to what that big picture should be. Marketing strategists start with a conclusion and work backwards. Content strategists start without a conclusion and work towards them.

Both types of research are important for minimizing risks and potential room for error. Dual inductive and deductive perspectives help ensure that organizations’ bases are covered in terms of reaching audiences with relevant, helpful information in the moment.

Aspirational vs. Analytical

Both marketing and content strategists flex between creativity and logic in their roles. It’s up to both team members to keep the other in check. For instance, a demand generation manager may need to flex his or her logic muscles to build a lookalike audience for a social media or email outreach campaign. The content strategist would step in and focus on the human side to outreach, providing a gut-check to the demand gen manager’s perspective. The content strategist would examine the marketing strategist’s framework to figure out:

  • How to turn “pitches” into engaging, relationship-building stories
  • What a story’s unique discussion angle should be
  • How to connect that story back to an overarching brand narrative
  • What components will make the story strongest

Audiences make decisions with both their rational and emotional minds. The marketing and content strategists need to work together, to create an aspirational narrative experience that makes logical sense.

Final Thoughts

Content and marketing strategists work together to plan holistic, integrated campaigns. Both perspectives are necessary for forming a continuous narrative and storytelling experience. Both build off each others’ strengths and offer bolsters to the others’ weaknesses. The two functions are distinct but interrelated.

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