Content Writing vs. Copywriting
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Dale Justice, Executive Vice President
September 20 2019

Content Marketing Versus Copywriting

Simply stated, content marketing is creating and sharing valuable free content to attract customers seeking answers to questions about a product or service. Think explaining the category rather than selling.

Copywriting creates copy with a specific call to action and seeks to compel the reader to initiate a trial of a product or service. Think advertising.

If you don’t know the difference between content marketing and copywriting, chances are very high your content marketing is missing the mark, or worse, being dismissed as totally self-serving. So, what is the difference?

Big difference. Content is blogs, thought leadership whitepapers, podcasts and email autoresponders. Copywriting is sales pages, website copy, ads and direct mail.

Content Marketing does require good copywriting. This may seem contradictory to the statement above that differentiates between the two. In reality, it’s not.

Content marketing without good copywriting is a waste of words.

To write good content your copywriting skills will be invaluable. Here are some things to keep top of mind when writing good content.

Your headlines might be too dull. 

When your headlines are boring, they don’t give people any reason to click through to the rest of your writing.

Your headlines might be too cute and clever.

If this is the case, you’re simply showing how smart you are without communicating any reader benefits. If your headlines are too dull or too clever, take a step back by making great communication your primary goal. Leave the jokes for late-night talk show hosts.

You haven’t explicitly thought about how your content benefits readers.

Just like a product has to have a benefit to the buyer, your content has to be inherently rewarding to readers or they won’t come back to your blog or podcast. Always consider your audience, and make sure you have created a good content development strategy that outlines these goals and objectives.

Your content isn’t building any rapport or trust.

You can always get social media attention by espousing your political position or ranting about a social issue, but attention does not translate into followers.

You don’t have a clear, specific call to action.

“Wait! You said earlier a call to action is the domain of advertising!” Yes, I did, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you have crafted a well-written thought leadership article that clearly demonstrates industry-leading innovation, your readers are going to want to know what to do with this information. Tell them. Give them a path to the next step, not a sales pitch. Remember, copywriting is the art of convincing your reader to take a specific action. And yes, it’s still copywriting if it takes place in content marketing of a podcast or video.

Keep these principles of great content marketing in mind:

  • Be generous. When your free content is so valuable that it makes you a little uncomfortable, you know you’ve got it right.
  • Produce enjoyable content. If your content reads or sounds like an ad, it will be overlooked or thrown away. Make your content too valuable to throw away by wrapping it in wonderfully beneficial, readable content.
  • Write for people. Don’t make the mistake of writing for search engines. Always write for people first, and then make your content search-engine friendly so new readers can find you.

Need help crafting your content? Totally lost on creating a content development strategy? Let’s connect!


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