By Joe Pulizzi published November 11, 2011

The 7 Business Goals of Content Marketing: Inbound Marketing Isn’t Enough

This post was written with the assistance of my co-author for Managing Content Marketing and lead strategist for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert Rose. Thanks Robert!

I’m tired… tired of the large amount of destructive posts about content marketing that are completely and utterly false.

Two posts in particular, as penned by Hubspot, are clearly written by individuals (no offense here) who do not understand what content marketing really is (here is one and here is the other for your reading enjoyment).

I’m not sure why Hubspot is targeting the term content marketing and misleading its customers in such a way. Do they want to misinform marketing professionals? That is something I cannot live with.

Disclaimer: I am a Hubspot customer (pending future status).

What is inbound marketing?

When the term “inbound marketing” first started to get traction, I thought it was pretty much the same as content marketing. I was wrong.

According to my good friend David Meerman Scott, as published in the book Inbound Marketing (from Hubspot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah), “Inbound Marketing is about getting found online, through search engines and on sites like Facebook and YouTube and Twitter…”

David is right… inbound marketing is a critical component of the new rules of marketing. Creating compelling and valuable content and distributing that content through a variety of online channels, as well as getting active in online communities, are essential for all companies today.

That said, if you only focus on inbound marketing, you will fail as a marketing professional.

Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Why you need a content marketing mindset

Content marketing is the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism. Content marketing, unlike inbound marketing, has been around for hundreds of years, most notably starting in 1895 by John Deere with The Furrow magazine (although I argue that the cave people were drawing stories on walls to sell product). See the video for more:

While inbound marketing (as opposed to outbound marketing) and getting found online by prospects are critical, what do you do with your story once they find you? If content marketing were a football field, inbound marketing would get you to the 35-yard line. Definitely critical, but hard to score from that distance.

After inbound marketing, you need lead nurturing. Once the lead is nurtured and becomes a customer at some point, you need customer service content. What if you want to upsell or cross sell to the customer? Well, that’s a whole set of different content. What if your goal is customer retention and loyalty? Well that’s another content strategy as well. Lots of valuable content spread out around the web will help you reach a few of your content marketing goals, but not all of them. NOTE: Some will argue that lead nurturing is part of inbound marketing. Even if that is true, it still means you have to throw a Hail Mary to score a touchdown.

Content marketing must include strategic planning, content creation, distribution, and metrics for multiple stages of the buying cycle to multiple customer personas. In my view, that means a complete content marketing strategy would incorporate inbound marketing principles, but it would also take a more holistic approach to meeting a business’s overall marketing goals.

Uh, print?

Even more importantly, content marketing is channel-agnostic. That means that content marketers should be looking at ALL available channels to engage with customers… print, in-person, and online (including mobile). The outstanding Ritz Carlton magazine, placed in hotel rooms, does not have anything to do with being found; neither does the amazing LEGO Club magazine, which has been produced in print for over 30 years (I received the original Brick Kicks magazine back in the 80s). LEGO Club magazine is not inbound marketing.

The business goals of content marketing

With content marketing, there are a number of overall business goals you could have:

Brand awareness or reinforcement
This is almost always the first thing that is thought of when you look at content marketing. The goal may be that you are just trying to find a more effective way than advertising to create awareness for your product or service. This is the long-tail strategy. Content marketing is a great vehicle for that, as it’s organic, authentic, and a great way for you to start driving engagement with your brand. Content marketing and inbound marketing overlap in this area.

Lead conversion and nurturing 
The most basic part of inbound marketing is the conversion metric. How you define a lead will vary — but from a content marketing perspective, this is where you have (through the exchange of engaging content) encouraged someone to give up enough information about themselves that you now have permission to “market” to them. This can include signing up for a “demo”, registering for an event, subscribing to your e-newsletter, or gaining access to your Resource Center. Once you have the prospect’s permission, you can use content to help move them through the buying cycle.

Customer conversion 

In many cases, you already have a ton of content in this area. This is where, as marketers, we have traditionally focused — the “proof points” to the sale. Examples include case studies you send to your prospects that illustrate how you’ve solved the problem before — or the “testimonials” section on your client page. Ultimately, this is the content you’ve created as a marketer to illustrate to the hot prospect why your solution is better or will uniquely meet his or her needs.

Customer service

This is where content marketing can really earn its “subscribe” stripes. How well are you using content to create value or reinforce the customer’s decision AFTER the sale? This goes well beyond the user manual, the documented process for success, and the FAQ on your website. These are the best practices for how to use your product or service. How can customers get the MOST out of your product or service? What are the successful, innovative ways that you’ve seen your product or service get extended into other solutions?

Customer loyalty/retention

Just like you have a planned lead nurturing process to turn prospects into customers, you also need a planned customer retention strategy. If your ultimate goal is to turn customers into passionate subscribers who share your stories, this area needs major attention. Options may be a customer e-newsletter or printed newsletter, a print or tablet magazine, or possibly a user event or webinar series.

Customer upsell

Marketing doesn’t stop at the “checkout” button any longer. If you’re particularly good at using content to service the customer in a subscribe model, you also have the opportunity to be effective at creating ongoing engagement for the other products and services you offer. Why stop communicating with prospects once they become customers? Instead, communicate with them more frequently (certainly not in a creepy way) and engage them with additional value. Customer upsell and customer retention goals can work hand-in-hand.

Passionate subscribers

If you can successfully move customers to this stage, you have really accomplished something. Content — and especially content generated by satisfied customers — can be one of the most powerful ways for us to reach any business goal. This is when content marketing starts to work for you exponentially. Apple Computer is the quintessential example of this. Ask yourself what their content marketing strategy is. They have no social media presence. They have no blog. But they have successfully built their passionate subscriber base — and these people create fan sites, write, share, and evangelize the Apple brand. Your ultimate goal should be to create a community of evangelists who are prepared to fight for your brand.

So which of these goals makes sense for your content marketing? Maybe it’s only an inbound marketing initiative and you’re just trying to help drive more leads into the sales and marketing process. Maybe you’re trying to create a program that increases awareness, drives down the cost of organic traffic to your website, and increases your position with search engines. Maybe you are working to improve your customer retention rate. Take a moment now to get your mental juices flowing.

What do you want to accomplish with content marketing?

One last message from the soapbox

I’ve seen way too many presentations and read way too many articles from “gurus” touting that all marketing resources should switch to inbound marketing. Or even content marketing for that matter? For some small businesses, this could be the case. But for smart, growing businesses, we should be leveraging content marketing throughout all our marketing initiatives — even (gasp) traditional marketing and advertising. (Check out this excellent post by Robert Rose about how content marketing is butter, not the bread.)

Yes, traditional marketing doesn’t work the way it used to because the consumer is in complete control. If they don’t want to pay attention, they won’t. Telling interesting stories is a much better way to get attention. But in many circumstances, traditional marketing and advertising can work (Old Spice showed us the power of paid advertising in collaboration with content marketing and social media). The point is, there is no black and white in marketing; it’s all gray.  There are no silver bullets. Marketing objectives sometimes need to be solved with a combination of efforts, not by putting all your eggs in one basket.

As a marketing professional, it’s your responsibility to call BS when you see it. I hope you will.

NOTE: If you are looking to see content marketing in action, check out Content Marketing World On Demand, featuring over 40 videos from the leading content marketing experts from David Meerman Scott to brands like DuPont, Intel and Sherwin Williams.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • http://blog.abstractedge.com Scott Paley

    Inbound marketing, content marketing… whatever you want to call it, this is an outstanding post.

    I hope all of us can get away from the semantic games – I don’t think they’re all that useful. If anything, they’re divisive. I’ve used both content and inbound marketing in discussions and in the end, I really mean the same thing (I don’t define inbound marketing quite as narrowly as you do in this post.)

    What’s actually important about your post is the overview of content marketing. It’s spot on and super helpful. The football graphic is great.

    Thanks Joe (and Robert.)

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      I’m with you Scott.  I can’t stand this issue of content strategy versus content marketing versus inbound marketing.  All important and all a bit different.  

      I see your point about inbound marketing and the definition, but as far as I can tell from the inbound marketing camp, it really does focus mostly on getting found.  So many marketers we are talking with are actually doing a great job being found, but are forgetting the content strategies associated with what to do after that happens.  I think we need a more holistic view about content in general and what it can do for our business – all channels and all goals.

      Thanks again Scott…appreciate all the support.

      Infographic courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski.  Thanks Joe!

      • Jk

        Glad you like it! It was a very fun (and important) one to create.

        • http://blog.abstractedge.com Scott Paley

          Yep, it’s really well done.

  • http://twitter.com/edhadley Ed Hadley

    Inbound marketing is top of the funnel. Lead nurturing is middle of the funnel. Content marketing covers the entire customer lifecycle–awareness, acquisition, service, loyalty, retention, etc. Way to take a stand, Joe!

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Ed!

      • http://twitter.com/edhadley Ed Hadley

        And regarding Hubspot, they like to take a contrarian view to stir the pot.  They’re currently doing the same thing with marketing automation as they are with content marketing, as they’ve done for years with outbound marketing.

        • http://blog.abstractedge.com Scott Paley

          Which, while possibly annoying, actually brings a lot of attention to the field (and of course, to them.) Net/net this probably isn’t a bad thing.

          • http://twitter.com/DigitalSherpas DigitalSherpa

            Nailed it. It’s obviously important to HubSpot that they develop an authority around the term ‘inbound marketing’, and part of that process is targeting and differentiating from similar and also majorly effective practices (content marketing).

            In the end, everyone will agree on many of the same ideals and ways of getting there.

            Now, for me, Joe’s most compelling argument for content marketing is when he talks about ‘telling a story’. With content marketing, we’ve been particular and meticulous in creating content that nurtures each step of the prospect process. It’s not simply about grabbing the info once they are there, it’s telling them the right story once they get there.

  • David Meerman Scott

    Joe, there is a great deal of overlap and misinformation around these various terms as you have so eloquently pointed out. In addition to Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing there are also people who use   The New Rules of Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Brand Journalism interchangeably. 

    The good news is that there is a huge untapped opportunity out there for all of us who see the future to help make people successful. 

    David

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      David…Amen to that.  I don’t like getting caught up in the words (you know this better than anyone).

      What if we all aligned and tried to help each other (and thus marketers)?  Wouldn’t it be better that way?

      • http://jaynalocke.myopenid.com/ Jayna Locke

        I could not agree more. I agree with Joe that we marketing professionals should align, and I especially agree with David that there is overlap. Divisiveness does not help the pour soul who is trying to learn the strategies and techniques for engaging with clients and moving them through the pipeline. If we get into “he said, she said,” no one benefits.I did not pick up this sentiment from the original post, so I’m glad to see you voicing it in the comments, Joe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/webpromoua web promo

    I hope you will continue your same best work and we will get more informative post which can helpful to us. Thanks for this

  • Anonymous

    Joe,

    You and I have had many discussions about this topic. My general feeling is that it’s all semantics. I’ve tended to view content marketing as the core driver of inbound marketing (see my football field infographic in How to Build Your Inbound Marketing GamePlan - http://www.pr2020.com/page/how-to-build-your-inbound-marketing-gameplan), but the more important takeaway is that when marketers are building strategic plans, they have to consider genreration of leads (acquisition) and the building of loyalty (retention). 

    Historically, HubSpot (disclosure, my agency is also a customer and VAR Partner) focused heavily on leads, and missed the larger opportunity to use content/inbound marketing to drive retention.

    Call it whatever you want. I think we’re all moving in the same direction, we just seem to have different ways of saying it.

    Paul

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Paul…really appreciate the comment.  Yes, I think the last we left it was that it really doesn’t matter what we call it.  Recently, my view has changed on that (per the post above).  More than a few marketers are getting confused.  If the marketers don’t understand what is what, the whole industry is set back. We have to be talking the same language.

      I love your infographic http://www.pr2020.com/page/how-to-build-your-inbound-marketing-gameplan
      …that entire graphic can go inside a larger piece called content marketing strategy, then marketing strategy.  More than a few marketers I talked to recently have had trouble going beyond just the top of the funnel.

      Thanks again Paul!  Keep doing your thing.  Can’t wait for the launch of the book (is it out already?).

      • Anonymous

        I’m sensing the need for a few Google+ Hangouts to discuss and debate:) I agree, what you are pushing is an important distinction. There is absolutely too much focus in general on top and middle of the funnel (i.e. sales). It’s an essential component of every business, but for many businesses, retention and growth of existing customers is even more vital to their profitability and success. And there is no doubt content marketing can be the greatest asset in that effort.

        Book ships Dec. 5. Thanks!

  • http://mytitleguy.com Stephen Garner

    This is an awesome post, thank you. I agree with you all, you cannot focus on only one thing. I don’t know about other industries but in the real estate space [I play a support role] traditional marketing methods are dying and/or cost prohibitive – print magazines, direct mail, fliers, door hangers etc – I can see why other forms of marketing would be imperative [especially when there is a brand and some form of uniqueness to the product or service] but it’s been my experience that the public views real estate peeps as “all the same” and therefor will often choose the 1st one they come across when looking for homes – online. In this respect content marketing works well for those that leverage it. Would you agree that content marketing can be more effective in this space than others?

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Stephen…thanks.  Content marketing works in all industries, just differently.  I know a lot of real estate agents that leverage blogs, print newsletters and more as part of growing their practice.  Your point is right, the traditional advertising might not work in those channels, but the channels aren’t necessarily broken.

  • http://twitter.com/MarketingProfs Ann Handley

    Joe – This is the kind of post that pushes the conversation forward. I see quite a bit of overlap between Content Marketing and Inbound — and though I’m not one for sports analogies, I see the two as playing on the same team.

    There is a tendency to think of content as top of the funnel (awareness, attraction). But as you point out, the best marketers install content as a cornerstone of their marketing throughout all aspects of the customer relationship. That’s why the story is so critical, and why this is such an exciting time for content, content creators, and business in general.

    p.s. Notice in that paragraph above how I DIDN’T say “the best ‘content marketers’ install content as a cornerstone…”? Because fundamentally I dislike the term “content marketer,” as it suggests content in a silo somewhere. Which is shouldn’t be.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Amen Ann.  Stories need to be told for different reasons and in different ways.  
      I’m not a great fan of content marketer either believe it or not…I believe that smart marketing professionals leverage storytelling as part of their business objectives.

      • http://www.thesaleslion.com Marcus Sheridan

        I don’t believe you Joe. ;-)

    • http://www.thesaleslion.com Marcus Sheridan

      Well said Ann, and I get very much your point about silos.

      Personally, I don’t have any issues with ‘content marketer’, but that’s because I see it more as a subset skill than as an all-encompassing title.

      Again, just semantics. :)

    • http://twitter.com/brencournoyer Brendan Cournoyer

      Wow just caught wind of this. The “same team” point is a great one Ann. I had to comment on the original post. I understand that “inbound marketing” is the phrase HubSpot pushes as its own product, but dragging down content marketing as something different and inferior just to get that point across seems totally unnecessary.

  • http://twitter.com/Robert_Rose Robert Rose

    Okay, the West Coast is just waking up – and will no doubt add to this already wonderfully festive discussion…. Thanks everyone for the great conversation thus far.   Joe and I definitely agree that in a “whatever gets you through the night” kind of mentality.   As @a0ee9d2f9b89b38afa79fc4e78e1f5e9:disqus said wonderfully – there’s a “huge untapped opportunity out there for all of us who see the future to help make people successful. 

    And linkbait or not – or whether they are trying to draw “boundaries” around the term – what irked both Joe and I enough to write this – was that there seems to be a desire to marginalize (or even trivialize in that last post) the efforts of Content Marketing professionals.  And that, given our blood sweat, tears and passion for this process – isn’t right.  

    In the end – as Joe and I say in the book at least three times – this process is Unique To You… You will build a process, and a story that is unique to you…  While we may differ on what it’s called – if it makes you successful just call it winning….   

  • Anonymous

    Inbound marketing is a component of a successful content marketing strategy. The posts themselves by Hubspot aren’t taking into consideration that PROPER content marketing requires adherence to best practices of inbound marketing. Sure then, from their perspective, creating content for content’s sake results in a “broken” content marketing result. 

    I agree that the WHY behind the content marketing plan needs to be established before the content is creation. Not only to consideration of  the purposes of the content, but what are the success criteria by which it will be measured?

    It seems like the “taking sides” is a matter of brand evangelism: Hubspot’s online marketing solution is called inbound marketing. CMI’s online marketing solution is called content marketing. The elements of a successful inbound marketing strategy include content; the elements of a successful content marketing include inbound factors. 
    Does Kleenex appreciate when you call their product a facial tissue? No, they want you to call it a Kleenex. 

    HOWEVER, something that I’ve seen missing in detail from this post and the ones that you reference is the HUMAN FACTORS of content marketing. 

    The usability of content has a massive impact on its usefulness as a lead generation tool, as a lead nurturing tool, as a tool to convert users from social channels to site visitors, etc. I think both Content Marketing Institute and HubSpot have SINCERELY missed out on an opportunity to do some talking about this. 

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks for stopping by Kimberly.  Good stuff.  The one thing I will say regarding your comment is that content marketing is NOT an online marketing solution.  Stories can be and should be told looking at all available channels…even print and in-person and whatever new ones come down the road (i.e., gamification). 

      IMO, it’s very difficult to be a thought leader in your niche industry by just focusing on the online channel alone.  Maybe someday that will be different, but not yet.

  • http://twitter.com/Mozbo_Artist Madeline Osborne

    You are quick enough to point out and link to two articles that you claim propagate ” destructive posts about content marketing that are completely and utterly false.” But you then do not elucidate exactly what it is about these articles that you find to be false…Incomplete, yes, but not necessarily “utterly false…”

    I can see where they may be possibly guilty of glossing over a lot of information, but I do NOT see the destructiveness you preface their links with…Instead, you use them as a type of scapegoat to then lead into your own theorems and definitions.

    I think this then makes you as guilty of being false, as those you attempt to paint with that exceedingly wide tar brush…

    • http://twitter.com/Robert_Rose Robert Rose

      Madeline…. Thanks for the comments…. To completely dissect each of those posts would need it’s own post – and we wanted to focus on defining content marketing – rather than arguing each point… But for your benefit let me just take the enumerated pieces from the latter post….  I have challenges with much more than this… but these are the writer’s 5 “confessions” that he makes reference to.  My Comments come after the dash….. 

      “1.) Content marketers care too much about traffic.” – Not true and misleading.

      “2.) Content marketers think great content will naturally rise to the top of search engines.” – Misleading (at best) and paints content marketers as being shortsighted.  Talk about broad brushes.

      “3.) Content marketers think great content will go viral.” – Again not true… Good content marketers understand how content marketing and paid marketing work together.

      “4.) Content marketers can’t get butts in the seats.” – Misleading (again at best)… This tries to re-define Content Marketing as only focusing on the top of the funnel – and that it’s a flawed method at even doing that.  That’s just untrue.

      “5.) Content marketers are missing the big picture.” – I’ll just leave this as it is – and leave it for you to determine whether this is a productive statement.  In my view it is not.

      In short – both posts (whether purposely or not) seem to be attempting to marginalize the ideas that content marketing professionals work toward.  It’s why we felt the need to respond.

      • Scott Frangos

        Excellent response Robert.  My “disclosure” is that I got “certified” in Inbound Marketing and also subscribe to and work with Joe and the gang in the Content Marketing realm.  I have always preferred to emphasize “Connection” (leading to sales) as the ultimate goal of good Marketing, and have blogged about that for several years.  This said, I think there is a present opportunity for all practitioners to get beyond semantics and simply consider how the disciplines inform, overlap, and enhance one another.  Go for the synergy.  I see the strengths of both disciplines as key tactics in the overall discipline which I believe all can agree is known as simply, “Marketing”.  And it’s been touched on here but bears repeating — good Marketing includes sales.  We’re all in pursuit of excellence in Marketing… let’s focus on that.

  • http://communitas.tumblr.com/ tobymurdock

    great post Joe! thanks!

    it reminds me of a conversation i had recently in a NYC hotel . . . 

    but your points make sense. and you know what term i’ve hung my hat on! 

    wow – just read those hubspot posts. seems like they’re launching a “terminology offensive.” pretty foolish. makes sense for you to respond.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Toby…I know, you and I have discussed.

      Glad you’ve hung your hat on content marketing.  Makes sense.

  • http://marketinginteractions.typepad.com Ardath Albee

    Joe and Robert,

    Excellent post. Like most of the others who have commented, I’m tired of the semantics. I think the key point is storytelling – which can only be done with content – in whatever form, across whatever channels are in play. This being said, storytelling must be developed for the audience it is meant to engage. Putting our prospects and customers at the middle of the story is what transforms the contribution content can make to our businesses.

    You’re right, we’ve used content and stories since the cave :) But I think the real difference is that somewhere along the line it became about controlling the information and selling stuff. We’re now making the shift back to sharing the story about opportunities available and helping people find success – which also results in selling, but with a different flavor – as more of a mutually beneficial exchange.

    Storytelling leads to conversations and conversations lead to relationships which leads to customers. Content used to help us make those transitions with our buyers together can transform the way business gets done. I don’t really care what you call it. Inbound, outbound, direct, social – whatever. Whatever works, is relevant, and engaging in the marketplace our business is focused on is what we should be doing.

    What bothers me is when people try to say THIS WAY is RIGHT and THAT WAY is WRONG. Really? Bunch of posturing, in my opinion.

    Thanks for the post! Great dialogue.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Love it Ardath.  Simply fantastic.

  • http://twitter.com/IanDSmith IanDSmith

    Joe

    A great thesis with strong arguments to support your definition of Content Marketing. My only point is that the bigger picture that I see missing is the Alignment with Content Marketing and a world class sales process.

    So for example, Content Marketing has a great opportunity to articulate the business results that you achieve for your customers (B 2 B). You are articulating outcomes, increased customer performance based on the deployment of your technology, product, service etc. This narrative can then be leveraged by a world class sales team trained to ask questions related to the real issues that face the client. The marketing content has articulated the issues and the way you solve them. It is this LACK of alignment between Content Marketing and Sales Process that is leading to failure just as much as your strong point that inbound marketing only gets you to the 35 yard line.

    Loved the quality of the post.

    Best

    Ian

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Ian…I agree.  I think the alignment between marketing and sales has been a challenge for most companies throughout the years.  The addition of a content marketing philosophy won’t necessarily change that.

      I just attended a CMO conference and that misalignment seemed to be the census.

      One thing: If you are developing a content marketing strategy for your organization and you are not involving sales…well…that’s a big no no. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by. 

  • Serena

    There is a lot of good info in here, but there’s one thing missing: content marketing is PART OF inbound marketing. The goal is to not just focus on content, but how to leverage that content with other aspects of inbound marketing (SEO, search, social media, lead nurturing, etc.)

    • http://mytitleguy.com Stephen Garner

      Amen

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Serena…at the top of the funnel, they are part of each other.  Content marketing is a bit more expansive than being found on the web, and includes a number of business goals like customer retention  programs, upsell programs and more.  Content marketing includes both inbound and outbound marketing activities.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://twitter.com/msbuller Michael Buller

    Thanks Joe for the great post and great discussion starter.

  • Darryl Praill

    Awesome discussion.  While I agree with many posts here that it is somewhat semantics, for others it is somewhat religion.  That fact is that we’re working a sales funnel.  That funnel may be for new business, or it may be for repeat or upsell business. A lead is simply an opportunity for more business hence that lead could be from a new prospect or an existing customer. Based on that, an “inbound” lead could enter the funnel at the top, or the middle, or near the bottom.  It’s all based on their trust and familiarity with the vendor and the solution. And that’s why both are critical – Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing.  The distinction in the post above is 100% accurate, however HubSpot could equally make an argument that they’re also right.  Inbound Marketing only gets you to the 35 yard line if they’re a new prospect with no familiarity with you or your services.  If they’re an existing client then you could be starting from the 50 yard line immediately before they even engage you or your content.

    What I loved about this article is the fact that we try to better define the roles each play. Content marketing is not necessarily for a lead, as Rob points out, although ultimately businesses are alive to generate revenue for it’s shareholders so even content marketing is an attempt to eventually influence and contribute to revenue generation.

    Rob and Joe – great article.  I love the debate and the education. Thanks for posting.  This is “good content”, and I bet it results in some new “inbound” leads. ;)

    I was fortunate enough to do a webinar with Rob on How to Make Marketing Content that Matters. Several of our discussion points in that webinar overlap several of the points in this discussion. We followed that up with an article called “5 Tips for Creating Content That Matters”. You can access both pieces of content here:

    http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/08/creating-content-that-matters/

    (Full disclosure – I’m also a HubSpot client).

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Wonderful Darryl…love the point about “religion”.  Probably why I get so darn passionate over this issue. I’ve been eating and sleeping content marketing for over 10 years and tend to get a bit emotional about it.  To me, it’s that important.

      • Darryl Praill

        Religion is a good thing – if you educate yourself first.  Being religious, blindly, is a bad thing.  Keep your passion – I love it. And keep educating us.

  • Anonymous

    This conversation reminds me a lot of what happened in the world of publishing with the term “self-publishing”. At one point, it meant what it logically appears to mean-the author is also the publisher, hence the use of “self”. There are many who insist that is the only way to correctly use the term.

    Enter the Fee-based/Author services/Subsidy publishers. They didn’t like that that they were lumped in with the “vanity publishers” and basically has a very bad rep. So they worked to take over the term self-publishing because it is at least partially true. Once the Interweb came along, it was the second group that dominated for the keywords/searches so that’s what the average searcher now thinks it means even though the two processes (using one of those firms vs. setting up as a publisher) are the same and they most definitely are not. The overall result has been a huge amount of confusion and a lot of disappointed authors. And there’s really no end in sight to the battle.

    As mentioned earlier, it would absolutely be a great thing if in marketing world, we can figure out a way to agree on some terminology across the board so that we don’t end up with a situation like above. Not sure what it would take to do it, but I think it’s worth trying for the sake of a lot of people who might otherwise get hurt in the crossfire.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Cheryl…I think conversations like these help.  I’ve already talked to dozens of people since this post came out about how the difference has opened their eyes.  It’s easier to communicate the value if we know.

      We have a ways to go…but we’ll get there.  Thanks for the great example.

  • http://www.touchpointcity.wordpress.com Vince Giorgi

    Strong agreement with your post and most of the comments, Joe. I’m a fan of HubSpot tools, methodology and people. But I don’t see any value in drawing such artificial distinctions, or painting those who might regard themselves as “content marketers” in an oafish, stereotypical light.

    For the record, I would bet a majority of marketers, if asked which is the subset — content marketing or inbound — would say inbound is a subset of content.

    And then there are those of us who sometimes hesitate to attach even the word “marketing” to content. Because we know how powerful the right strategy and relevant, engaging content can be in such areas of business as sales support, customer service, corporate social responsibility, employee brand stewardship, etc.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thank you Vince.  

      “Because we know how powerful the right strategy and relevant, engaging content can be in such areas of business as sales support, customer service, corporate social responsibility, employee brand stewardship, etc.”

      Love that…

  • http://www.fishpondcontent.com Susan Lahey

    Looks to me like Hubspot is trying to do a little content marketing itself by being controversial. Looks bold, brazen, breaks from the pack..always gets attention. This is a measured response. Thanks.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      You could be right Susan…it’s a known fact.  I just don’t agree with it in this case.

  • http://jaynalocke.myopenid.com/ Jayna Locke

    Among the high-fives, amens and quibbles about semantics, I would like to add my two (or three) cents.

    I believe that if you are a blogger, you are involved in a form of content marketing; if you grow your customer base almost exclusively via traditional email marketing, a Facebook page or a YouTube channel, you are involved in a form of content marketing. And yes, if you go door-to-door with leaflets, you are involved in a form of content marketing. It varies completely from business to business. Perhaps all you have time and resources to do is write weekly blog posts and contribute to discussions in LinkedIn groups, but maybe that works for you. Is it not okay to call those initiatives “content marketing”? You’re creating content and you’re uh… marketing.

    I get the need to fine tune the definition, and perhaps even own it. But I kind of think that ship has sailed. There are many of us in the trenches helping those with very little time or budget to enhance their online content in order to grow a larger market. For many businesses, those efforts are faster, cheaper and more effective than sending postcards or attending networking meetings. My point is that a small business may only be able to address one little piece of the whole enchilada at a time. And they must choose one or two effective methods. I partner with social media companies that have catapulted tiny little businesses forward with Facebook strategies alone. That is definitely a “putting all your eggs in one basket” strategy.

    What I’m hearing from this blog post is that if you’re only focused on one methodology, such as a specific inbound marketing strategy, you don’t get to say you’re involved in content marketing. I vehemently disagree. Instead of being inclusive, this definition calls up an image of a bully on a playground saying “you can’t play.”

    The Content Marketing Institute is a wonderful, well-respected entity. I follow you, learn from you and retweet your posts. I believe in your mission and integrity to the degree that I retweeted this post before I had a chance to actually read it. Then, in between writing press releases, ghost writing blogs, guiding some clients on how to improve their LinkedIn presence and others on how to incorporate quality keywords into their content, I read this post from beginning to end. And I learned that I am evidently living a lie. Apparently I am not helping my clients with content marketing at all.

    If content marketing has been around for hundreds of years, since long before the internet – even in prehistoric times – then how can we possibly define it in certain terms or claim that certain points of view are right or wrong? If only businesses with large marketing budgets can buy into the whole story-telling-cross-channel-marketing-offline-and-online-lead-nurturing program you describe, what are the rest of us doing? And if there are gray areas and no silver bullets, why can’t you just go with one online, inbound marketing strategy if that’s the most effective thing for your business?

    I just don’t think there needs to be a judge or jury on what qualifies as content marketing. I think it’s okay if HubSpot’s brand of content marketing is totally focused on inbound strategies. It’s a big playing field and there’s room for your p.o.v. and theirs too. I think the only thing that’s “damaging” is divisiveness.

    • http://www.thesaleslion.com Marcus Sheridan

      Wow of the most thoughtful comments I’ve read on any blog in a long, long time.

      Well done Jayna!

      Marcus

    • http://twitter.com/msbuller Michael Buller

      Really interesting comments Jayna. I agree with you on many of your points. I come out content marketing from a slightly different perspective, having spent most of my career in traditional and what was then custom publishing — back before the Internet, when publishing meant print and content meant copy for the most part.

      For me, the simplistic publishing analogy is that inbound marketing is the circulation effort to content’s editorial. You can’t have a community of readers if know one knows that your great content exists; and you can’t have a community of readers if there is nothing to read. Same with content strategy and inbound marketing — they need to coexist, not live within each other. 

      I didn’t get from Joe’s post that you had to be doing all elements of a comprehensive content marketing strategy in order to be truly doing content marketing. But what I liked about his post is that it takes Hubpost to task for painting all content marketers with the same broad, denigrating brush. It’s hard enough to educate potential clients on using content wisely, that when folks start tearing the word apart, it makes it that much harder.

      It’s the same reaction I have when I see a badly done print custom magazine – you know the type, ones that are 95% sales pitch and 5% story — it adds to the challenge of educating clients of the potential of custom marketing.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Jayna…thanks so much for all the support and adding to the conversation.

      Couple points
      - I think having different ideas of what content marketing is is fantastic…I love the conversations coming from that…but when someone comes out and says “content marketing is this, this and that” and it’s absolutely not true, I think we are doing a disservice to the entire marketing profession.
      - It is important that we set boundaries on what something is or is not in marketing or we won’t be able to move our profession forward.  That is why we (CMI) chose to go with content marketing over custom publishing, custom content or even custom media.  Content marketing helps marketing professionals sell the business case better for storytelling throughout the organization.
      - Inbound marketing is a very important part of the practice of content marketing, so of course you are doing content marketing.  The point is not to make a fight…the point is to make sure we understand that our content marketing strategies are important for custom retention, upsell and brand evangelism as well as top of the funnel activities.  It’s disheartening to me when I talk to senior level marketers who focus so much on getting more people to the website, when they have customers right in front of them that need to hear stories on how to make their lives or careers better.  It’s not one or the other…it’s both.
      - It’s not a small or big company thing.  I run a small business and try to do multi-channel content marketing best I can focusing on multiple goals.  If the solution for a small company involves just a blog right now, that’s okay too.  There is no exclusivity here at all…you do what you can with the resources you have.

      Jayna…thank you for your comment.  It is truly appreciated.  

      • http://jaynalocke.myopenid.com/ Jayna Locke

        Thanks for your reply, Joe. I agree with you that we should entertain all the different ideas about what content marketing is. Even those of us who profess to be offering professional content marketing services struggle with the definition. The challenge is even greater for those who are trying to learn the ropes. I think it’s interesting to note that people type the phrase “what is content marketing” into search engines over 27,000 times monthly.

        Your site offers an excellent definition that pops right up in a search for that phrase:

        “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

        Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

        That’s beautiful. And after reading it, the earnest information seeker proceeds to ask: yeah but how? And that’s when they uncover the tsunami wave of ideas about how to deliver engaging content and earn customer loyalty. And there are a million right answers.

        I am not going to address the fact that this definition does not describe the rest of the equation Robert says is absolutely critical in the post above – brand evangelism.

        It’s the “how” that we seem to be stuck on. HubSpot says content marketing is a part of a much bigger concept called inbound marketing, which includes lead nurturing. Junta42 says that is not only wrong, but damaging. Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi yell “Fire in the hole!” and lob a blog post saying that if you only focus your content marketing efforts on inbound marketing you will fail.

        My point was simply that to the small business owner, this proclamation creates fear and insecurity. Yes, of course they need to nurture leads through all phases of the buying process. They just want some effective tools they can use to bring people into the process and engage them. Maybe a blog, a lead capture system and a Facebook page are the pieces they can manage right now with their budget and time. Let’s hand-hold them through how to make that work for their lead generation and customer loyalty goals instead of getting them worked up about whether that’s honest-to-goodness content marketing or a highway to failure. 

        People are looking for leaders. The leaders may or may not agree on the terms. Who cares. It’s the tools we want. The how-to. We want “relevant and valuable content,” whether the whole ball of wax is called content marketing and it’s a part of inbound marketing or the other way around.

        I just want to close this overly long comment by reiterating my respect for Junta42 and CMI. I refer to your helpful content (and HubSpot’s) in my own content marketing book, which is under development. But I can’t steer people toward a quarrel about semantics when my goal is to provide clarity and lessen the overwhelm.

  • http://www.thesaleslion.com Marcus Sheridan

    I’ve enjoyed the conversation Joe, as it has been an eye opener for me in many ways to see the different ‘Content Marketing is….” “Inbound marketing is….” statements being made.

    I’ll be writing my own post on this Monday I’m sure but either way that Hubspot article was junk, and should be pulled off the blog.

    Marcus

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Marcus…can’t wait to read the blog post.

  • Bernie Borges

    Joe,
    This is a very worthwhile discussion. It illustrates the maturation we are experiencing as marketers. I too am a HubSpot customer (and VAR). And, I share your sentiment that it is not semantics. Inbound marketing is about getting found (regardless of how you get found) to create customers. Heck, you could do all your inbound marketing through PPC which involves no content (sans a PPC landing page).

    I’ve just launched a new brand strategy that focuses on “digital marketing” not “inbound marketing.” We say that digital marketing includes: content marketing, inbound marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and mobile marketing. Note that inbound marketing is one of the five elements, not the total solution. The sixth element is integrated marketing. That’s where an organization integrates all their marketing together to include offline and online to meet their customer wherever they are.

    Offline is still very important (as you know). Content delivered in print or at live events, including great customer service experiences in retail (or online) play an important role in customer loyalty. I love your point about the importance of delivering content throughout the lifecycle of your customer relationship.

    I think the bottom line is that content is an organization’s currency. The organization should be a good steward of this currency to drive customer acquisition and loyalty.

    Thanks for starting this conversation. I think it will go on for a while.

    Bernie

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Bernie…I agree…it’s important that marketers see and understand the difference.  I like the way you’ve mapped your services out…there is room for all of them and they are all very different.  There is no silver bullet indeed.

      Yes, the conversation will go on.  I’m hopeful that articles like these help, and not hurt the discussion moving forward.

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  • http://www.publicate.it Chris Bradley

    Great post Joe! I think Wikipedia gives a good definition;
    Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases.

    And therefore its not about content marketing Vs inbound, or inbound Vs traditional, its about the right mix of marketing strategies that work for you or your organization in reference to your target market and goals.
    What is constant though is that the content used in the required tactic(s) is at the core of your marketing success.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Excellent Chris!

  • http://www.tomorrow-people.com Sookie Shuen

    Hi Joe, thanks for sharing this article. We are also a Hubspot customer, and obviously inbound marketing alone is never enough. Our inbound marketing approach involves a powerful combination of Content Marketing, Social Media and Marketing Automation. Content marketing plays a big role in supplying the crucial information and engaging features your audience can’t live without, in the style that best connects with them.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Great Sookie…you are right, it’s not one of the other, it’s how the ingredients work together.  It’s just important we know the pepper from the salt. ;)

  • Russell Sparkman

    I went and read the two Inbound Marketing posts, before sharing my two cents here. What I found interesting in both posts was the depiction that somehow those practicing content marketing typically ignore email, social media channels, SEO, and metrics.

    I think that this portrayal couldn’t be further from there truth. At least from the perspective of how I practice Content Marketing.

    Here are my 7 stages of the Content Marketing Cycle: Analytics & Insight, Content Strategy, Content Creation, Content Creation, Distribution, Participation and Evaluation. Rinse. Repeat.

    Everything that fits under the “Inbound Marketing” rubric is covered in the above stages.

    Additionally, our approach to content marketing also includes everything from print to events to, yes, paid “outbound” advertising, in addition to online “inbound” activities. The decision upon the mix is dependent upon the client, and their desired outcomes, target audiences, audience needs, etc.

    So, I view Content Marketing as a bigger tent, therefore, than Inbound Marketing. This is why, when I was trying to settle on a term to refer to our approach to client work 3 or 4 years ago, I settled on Content Marketing over Inbound Marketing.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks so much Russell…great take.  Of course, we are on the same page.  Both important, yet CM is a bit more expansive and (gasp) sometimes includes outbound marketing.

  • Stephanie Elsen

    Great conversation here! I will preface my comments by saying that I do understand and respect the HubSpot system of inbound marketing (and their software), although I don’t use it. I am a total believer in content marketing, and it has made a great difference in many ways for the company I work for. I did read the HubSpot blog post in question when it first came out and almost felt like I had been slapped in the face when I read it.

    As a marketer who hears and sees messages almost daily about both inbound marketing and content marketing, I will say that my perception of the two is quite different, though surely each has their place.

    To me, inbound marketing is a lead generation tactic, whereby you track a lead’s activity, whether on your wesite pages, blog, social networking sites, etc. Using the HubSpot software allows one to be hyper-aware of what the prospect is doing so they can be contacted at exactly the right time, hence allowing you to strike while the iron is hot. It also helps one to build the right types of content that prospects (and search engines) are looking for. To me, that’s it in a nutshell.

    On the other hand, content marketing to me is more of a comprehensive marketing tactic which can be used for leads and customers alike. It’s providing the right person something meaningful for free and developing yourself as an industry leader. It’s getting people the information they want and need, when they need it, so they become a fan or your company or become a customer.

    I think HubSpot seems like a great tool for lead generation. I also know that content marketing works on many levels. I think there is enough room for both to coexist in peace.

    • http://blog.openviewpartners.com/blog/the-open-marketer Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)

      Just chiming in and echoing a lot of the thoughtful comments here.  I have always defined content marketing as the practice of creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to your audience at all stages of the buying and selling processes.  I agree with Stephanie E. in saying that inbound marketing is centered on being a lead generation tactic and is focused on making your company easily found online.  But (as many have said) there is more to content marketing than simply being found online!

      In a simple sense (and as Ann Handley puts it) IM and CM are on the same team.

      Thanks Joe and Robert for organizing this conversation and calling it as you see it!

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Great take Stephanie…love it!

  • Russell Sparkman

    Of course, most of this discussion amounts to quibbling over semantics within “the bubble.”

    I often find that the unfortunate reality (as a content marketing evangelist) is that the 10s of millions of small to med. businesses, not to mention people in the marketing groups of larger corporations, are mostly baffled by all these different flavors of marketing and mostly want to know (if you work in the digital realm)  “can you build me a web site?” Or worse, from my POV, simply ask without knowing what they’re asking “do you do social media?”

    An astute graphic designer friend of mine has accurately identified, I believe, that most of these people don’t care about the label.

    They care, he points out, whether or not you (as the agency) can deliver them new customers, maintain relationships with existing, and get those existing customers to talk about their product, their service, their cause with their friends and colleagues. And do it creatively (and as cheaply as possible).

    How you do it for them, i.e. whether you do it via content marketing, or inbound, etc., is up to each individual agency to identify which tactic fits their agency and their client the best, strategically, authentically and within human and financial bandwidth realities.

    • http://www.howdoesthatmakeyoubuy.com Doug Rice

      Excellent point! I find that to be true for me as well–clients thinking that I design websites or do social media (because they seem to think that’s what marketing is online.) I think content marketers (or maybe I’m just talking about myself) do a fairly poor job of explaining what they do in terms that their actual customers can understand.

  • http://twitter.com/oz2designs Catherine Lockey

    Thanks so much Joe for this post. I added it to a certain Google+ conversation that desperately needed it: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113217924531763968801/posts/L8RTDzZVYkV

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Catherine…great stuff.

  • Nbruton

    very good post Joe!! Great insights.

  • http://shapingclouds.com Michiel Sikkes

    Thank you for this great post.

    Reading some of the posts you reference I am having the feeling that we’re spending more time on discussing which term to use in what situation than the actual differences or advantages of both “terms”.

    I was very glad to see your timeline graphic with all the touch points with customers and that you need to do something for every step in the road. Which brings me to another point that I really agree with you that the best approach is channel-agnostic. But in my mind, inbound marketing always was.

    For example, when you are creating a software or web product you are probably active in the worldwide developers or open source community. The most successful software companies contribute back to the community by creating plugins or programming code examples.

    I also see actively participating in those communities as a way of inbound marketing/content marketing. I have no idea what marketing term would describe this way of participating but it does build brand awareness for other people and can create leads and sales for your product.

    Please reply if you agree with me or you can point out an argument that makes me utterly fail in my reasoning.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Michiel…thanks for the comment.  You know, we get so focused on inbound marketing being focused on the web, I think we’ve forgotten that it inbound marketing is definitely channel agnostic. 

      If outbound is finding customers with your marketing and inbound is getting found by customers, those two approaches are channel agnostic (although online is powerful with inbound).

      So, I agree…and thanks!

  • http://www.buildandbalance.com/ Michael_N

    Man, reading the Comments took me longer than reading the Post! And I might have learned just as much with all the varying opinions. I just want to say thanks for the passion in the original article and the comment stream. I think this is what makes content something people look for and want to share.

    Coincidentally I had a fairly long conversation with a person at Hubspot today about adopting their platform to get more conversion through my website. Along the way the gentleman suggested that if I’m struggling with maintaining the creation of content due to my speaking schedule packing out I might like to hire a ghostwriter to create blog posts per my style. I winced at the suggestion. 

    One thing I feel I’m respected for is the ability to craft original content that informs clearly and is immediately useful. To put that reputation I’ve carefully built up over 3 years in to the hands of a ghostwriter seems like a really bad idea to me or am I just being naive? Are many content marketers using other people to ghostwrite their content? Thanks again for the great post.

    • http://twitter.com/rampbusinesses Scott Aughtmon

      Hi Michael.  Have you considered repurposing some of the content of your talks and using that content as blog posts?  Not the whole talks, but maybe just a point.  You could think of hiring a transcription service to transcribe some of your talks if you don’t have them written out word-for-word.  Another idea is using short audio or video segments of your talks as seeds to plant on your blog.  These could be ways to keep the “voice” of your blog genuinely yours and still have time to speak and blog.

      • http://www.buildandbalance.com/ Michael_N

        Scott, Appreciate the thoughts! Indeed I am spending a lot of time rethinking the content creation process. I recently created my first recorded webinar on Twitter that’s packaged up and can be posted, emailed,etc. I used my Echo pen to record me giving the live webinar, then sent my video producing uncle the sound file and the slides. He created a packaged webinar out of it. I’m offering it as a free bonus for registrations for a first-time online mktg bootcamp I’m running in Dec. 

        I’m also videotaping most of my major presentations and then having said uncle chop them up in to shorter videos for YouTube and the like. With YouTube integration now in Hootsuite I’ll be sharing a lot more video on my social networks. The videos are also making their way in to each of my newsletters to keep things interesting. I’m trying to wean myself off of purely the written word. 

        The transcription idea isn’t one I’ve pursued, but it’s worth some thought. Thanks!

  • Russell Sparkman

    At about the same time this post was published, I had just finished a major proposal to a client. The following text is from that proposal:

    “There are many “flavors” of marketing today. Thereʼs Inbound Marketing, Integrated Marketing, Agile Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Real-time Marketing, Cause Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Word-of-Mouth Marketing, to name a few. Yet, content assets are required for all of the above approaches to succeed.”

    Pretty much sums it up why primary focus needs to be on content, in my estimation. Without a content plan or strategy, the other approaches are more or less empty vessels.

  • http://threadyblock.blogspot.com/ Jason Dea

    Thanks for this great post!  So much great information.  Content marketing is as much a philosophical shift in how we reach customers as much as it’s a marketing technique.  I for one have had a hard time breaking my old habits, but the great communities being built online are slowly but surely helping me fine tune my skills as a modern marketer. 

  • http://twitter.com/kayak360 kayak360

    First, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Pro and Con. You are welcome to challenge HubSpot if it helps you sell your book, which is exactly what I see this post is all about – a sales pitch for your book. Creating controversy around a successful individual or firm is one way to do it, though it’s a bit more aggressive that I might personally opt for. 

    Second, as they say, I actually agree with some of your post – never put all your eggs into one basket. We encourage our clients to integrate their online and offline (traditional) marketing activities to maximize their potential for results. We utilize HubSpot as well as WordPress and Expression Engine as a means to make those traditional efforts more automated and trackable. And of course, you still need to close the sale… content creation and email marketing only go so far. After all, we are people buying and selling from people, not machines.

    If you are curious to know more about our approach, I invite you to subscribe to check out our social media marketing program at http://www.kayakcreative.ca/online-90-program-outline 

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thx for the comment.  I guess we can agree to disagree.  The goal of this post was to create some change with the conversation around both terms (which has actually happened in the past few weeks).

      Outside of that, there is still way too much confusion around these terms, and I believe marketers need and should know the difference.  Most do not in my experience.  I’m hoping that will change.

      Happy New Year!

      • http://twitter.com/kayak360 Randy Milanovic

        I’ve just published an ebook, Findability: Why Search Engine Optimization is Dying

        + 21 New Rules of Content Marketing for 2013 and Beyond http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CMDQ9RG/

  • http://identitydental.com/ dental marketing

    Marketing tactics really depend on your target market and niche. We specialize in dental marketing, but we don’t always recommend the same methods to each of our clients.  We truly believe that every marketing plan needs to be custom fitted to the clients S.W.O.T’s and of course, their goals.  For instance, one client may prefer older patients and cosmetic cases, whereas their competition prefers to attract young families.  We’d obviously want to market these practices in different ways.  We may hold an event to attract children and families, whereas, we may reach the older demographic more directly with traditional forms of advertising.  Great post.  It’s definitely thought provoking and opinionated, which is always GREAT. 

  • http://weightmeltdown.com/content-marketing Luanne

    Hi Joe, I really enjoyed reading your article and like how you include the entire process.  Thanks so much.  Loved the info-graphics, too.

  • Kasie Hilburn

    Hi Joe,

    I’m of a different opinion than you, so much so that I left the last company I was with primarily for this reason.

    You can have a successful content marketing program without inbound marketing: Blogging, Social Media, Email marketing, Video marketing, SEO, etc, can be done without a program like Hubspot.

    You cannot have a successful inbound marketing program without great content marketing: marketing automation/ workflows, lead segmentation, monitoring your leads, etc, require a software like Hubspot, and the knowledge and capability to implement.

    Here’s the rub:

    If you are selling and charging for an inbound marketing program, but only implementing a content marketing program, you are doing your customers a disservice… and in my opinion its unethical.

    If you aren’t determining your buyer personas, or setting realistic goals, or KPI’s, or breaking down the buying cycle, or creating workflows specific to buyer persona and lifecycle, or monitoring your leads in social media, or creating A/B split tests…. you aren’t doing Inbound Marketing.

    You’re going to have to use some sort of platform to implement your content marketing (wordpress, constant contact, hootsuite), so if you like a program like Hubspot (or infusionsoft or marketo or pardot, etc) to make it easier for you, then charge just for the content marketing portion, and pass through the cost of the software as you would if you were using a different platflorm. You aren’t really utilizing it the way you should, so why make your customer pay for your lack of knowledge, expertise, or time to do all the work?

    Don’t call yourself an Inbound Marketing Guru if you’re really a Content Marketing Guru. There is a difference.

  • http://kameelvohra.com/ Kameel Vohra

    Always nice to hear some objective views! I really appreciate you highlighting that content marketing is just one (individual) component of a complete marketing campaign, of which, “inbound” marketing may also be a component.