When I’m working with new clients, one of the most common questions I hear is “what is the difference between copywriting and content marketing?”
Let’s take a look at the definitions I’ve come up with for each one:
Copywriting is content (usually called “copy” or “sales copy”) that is focused on one thing; getting a user to take a specific action. That may be to make a purchase, fill out a contact form, or call for more information.
Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach that involves creating and distributing content that is meaningful, timely, and relevant to your ideal customer.
While they are certainly different disciplines, they are, in my opinion not so different from one another.
Great copywriting needs magnetic content, and great content should include persuasive sales copy (otherwise, you’ll never sell anything, or get your target audience to take the next step in the sales cycle).
They aren’t mutually exclusive.
Sure, you can eat a peanut butter sandwich and it’s good. You can eat a jelly sandwich and that might be ok as well. But something magical happens when you put them together, and the same is true with copywriting and content marketing.
The Answer is You Need Both
Content “Tells” and Builds Relationships with Your Customers
Have you ever been looking for a solution to a problem, but you were just “checking things out,” and not necessarily ready to make a purchase just yet? I’ll bet in this situation you didn’t want an overzealous sales message stuffed down your throat, did you?
Your customers are the exact same way.
Sure, we all wish that people would just magically buy something the first time they come in contact with our brand, but that isn’t likely to happen.
In fact, most sales (especially for products that are new, expensive, complex, or have a longer sales cycle) tend to take time to develop.
The process ideally starts by helping educate each prospect, and build a relationship with them. With content marketing this process is effective, affordable, and NOT time consuming on your part.
While you’re busy running your business, content is on the web 24/7/365 educating your prospects about how they can overcome the problems or challenges they are facing.
Content marketing involves creating helpful and relevant information (blog articles, videos, tutorials, etc.) that help your ideal customers. It’s simple really, but it isn’t always easy.
Copywriting “Sells” and Gets them to Buy Your Stuff, or Take the Next Step
Copywriting (especially direct response copy) is designed to advance the sale. Whether that’s a sales page selling your product or service, or a landing page incentivizing someone to sign up for your email list.
Copywriters help sell stuff by creating marketing funnels and writing the copy for those funnels so that prospects that come in at the top end of the funnel make it all the way to the bottom and buy your stuff.
After all, selling more of your products and services is what really matters at the end of the day to any business, which is why copywriting is so important.
Of course we want to provide value and make our clients happy, but we can’t do any of that without creating revenue and keeping the lights on.
The Bottom Line…
For items that are impulse buys, sales copywriting may be all you need. However, for products that are “big decisions,” a mix of content marketing and copywriting typically work much better.
Surprisingly, the cost of the item isn’t really the issue, it’s the idea of how much research and investigating a prospect is going to do before making a purchasing decision.
If it isn’t an impulse buy, and your target audience is likely to do research and evaluate your competitors, then you should seriously consider adding content marketing to your marketing channels…because your competitors probably already are.