By Joe Pulizzi published October 4, 2014

This Week in Content Marketing: Inbound Versus Content Marketing

pnr logoPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I speculate on why HubSpot has stirred up an age-old debate on the differences between inbound and content marketing, take issue with an article that laments the rise of corporate journalism and how it’s starting to compete with traditional news reporting, and reveal why Marriott’s decision to launch a content marketing studio is likely to be a big success. Our rants and raves cover a spammy sponsored post on Facebook that featured Lebron James and a brilliant bit of emotional storytelling from the innovators at GE. We wrap up the show with a rockin’ #ThisOldMarketing example: Guitar Center TV. 

 This week’s show

(Recorded live on September 29, 2014; Length: 53:23)

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 1. Content marketing in the news

  • Distinguishing Content Marketing From Inbound Marketing (3:21): According to research conducted by HubSpot, marketers and sales professionals consider content marketing to be a subset of inbound marketing, where high-quality content fuels inbound success. In an article that explores the differences between the two strategies, author Joe Chernov cautions that marketers should think in terms of an “and” relationship, not “or.” Both are critical to success. In a related article, HubSpot’s former Content Team Senior Manager, Jay Acunzo, says it doesn’t matter what we call it — the bottom line is that it’s marketing. Robert and I disagree with HubSpot’s conclusion and speculate on what could be driving its move to redefine both inbound and content marketing.
  • Preparing for the Corporate Journalism Wave (20:29): This article from Quartz explores the pros and cons of the rise of corporate journalism — and how it’s starting to compete with traditional news reporting. I have some serious concerns about the way the author throws around terms like branded content and native advertising, without understanding what they mean. Robert agrees, and believes the author makes a huge mistake by focusing on only one segment of journalism.
  • Marriott Launches Content Marketing Studio (30:43): According to Adweek, Marriott International is launching a global creative and content marketing studio to handle internal work for its portfolio of 18 travel-related brands. Aiming to become the world’s largest producer of travel-related content, Marriott is spending a substantial amount of money to bring in top-notch talent and create web and TV shows as part of its strategy. Robert and I discuss the opportunities and challenges Marriott is likely to face — including one big advantage that should help it succeed.

2. Sponsor (39:37)

  • This Old Marketing is sponsored by Emma — email marketing for the modern brand, featuring mobile-responsive templates, social integration tools and concierge services. Emma is promoting a new service called One Great Idea. Send them a link to your email marketing campaign, and they’ll send you one totally doable tip for better results next time. You can register for it at


 3. Rants and raves (41:27)

  • Joe’s Rant: I recently saw this sponsored post featuring basketball star Lebron James in my Facebook feed and was immediately intrigued, so I clicked on it. It turned out to be a spammy piece of content for a dietary supplement. How did this article get missed by Facebook’s ad review process? It just goes to show that scaling up a human review process for sponsored content can be challenging for a huge site like Facebook.Lebron-James
  • Robert’s Rave: GE is now running an ad that portrays an idea as a big, hairy monster — and most people shun it because it’s scary. This makes the creature very sad. In contrast, GE welcomes it and transforms it into something beautiful. FastCo Create reviews it here. This brilliant 1-minute spot demonstrates, in a memorable way, that the company welcomes recent graduates and their ideas to help drive growth. It’s an awesome piece of emotionally driven brand storytelling.

 4. This Old Marketing example of the week (48:55)

  • Guitar Center TV: At last month’s Content Marketing Awards, Guitar Center received the top honor from CMI for its Guitar Center TV channel on YouTube, as well as another award for the greatest subscriber growth — an average of 2,600 new people per week. Guitar Center’s team produces several new videos per day and places them in one of 10 playlists within its YouTube channel — which covers everything from jam sessions with famous guitarists and artist Q&A sessions, to “drum-off” competitions and singer-songwriter contests. It’s an excellent example of what can be done in video content marketing.

For a full list of the PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

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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, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. 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.

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  • Bobby Burns

    Hey guys,

    So I’m bouncing back and forth between Joe Chernov’s article and this podcast and I am a bit… intrigued. I’m not seeing that Content Marketing is being classified as ALWAYS being a subset of Inbound Marketing. I believe that it is a subset, but that it is also a powerful strategy and approach in and of its own right.

    Having worked with many small businesses, especially those where the owner is often the marketer, and now working as a content creator for a Hubspot partner, I find that this is almost a moot point. That is, as one of you noted, most of those client have no real idea what “content marketing” nor “inbound marketing” is. They just know that someone is promising that their approach is going to bring them business.

    As a side note, one of the realities of inbound marketing as formulated by Hubspot is that it doesn’t work effectively for very small businesses (less than 10 employees) and solo professionals. But content marketing does…!

    Good piece and still needed. Thanks!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Bobby…I see content marketing outside of the Inbound/Outbound debate, but it really doesn’t matter. We just want people to take an honest look at the approach so they can do more good for customers.

      I appreciate the comment.

      • Bobby Ray Burns

        Thanks, Joe. Actually, I agree with you on both points. In the end it’s the results for our customers that matters most.

  • Ben Jacobson

    Here’s what HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah had to say back in late May about the company’s “ownership” of the term “inbound marketing”:

    The subtext of the discussion is that it was basically a positioning decision for search term competitiveness reasons. So yeah — “insider baseball” at its best, like you guys said….

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Inside baseball is right Ben. No one in the world cares except us marketers. We will use the term that makes the most sense to marketing professionals.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Paul Chaney

        In 2004, when I started a marketing company the first time around, I used the term “online marketing” to differentiate myself from marketing agencies that do both online and offline.

        Shortly, I was swept up in the social media wave and began using the term “social media marketing.” More recently, in my second attempt at running a boutique marketing consultancy, I began using the term “content marketing.”

        However, even more recently I returned to use of the term “online marketing.” (The old is new again.) From where I sit, it’s simpler and less ephemeral. While I have great respect for what both CMI and Hubspot have done in staking a claim to certain terms, in my attempt to understand the differences, my head starts spinning.

        As you said, no one cares except us marketers.

        • Joe Pulizzi

          Paul…I love this take. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ricky Shockley

    Inbound Marketing is a sham of a term–It’s highjacking the idea of marketing your business online in general. In fact, Hubspot itself doesn’t even follow the practice! During a breakout talk at this years Inbound 14 conference, a Hubspot employee/speaker listed paid social advertising as a core element of their content promotion (which she also said was “hush” at Hubspot because it’s an outbound tactic).

  • Jeff Nowak

    GE Storytelling: I saw the GE “idea monster” and truthfully, it just creeped my family out. So, while us “professionals” may think it is a great piece of corporate content, the real consumers are saying, “That’s the dumbest commercial I ever saw.” Right behind GE’s the “The Boy Who Beeps.” My guess is my family isn’t too far off from other folks who saw these corporate stories. It just feels like they’re trying too hard. The moral: Every piece of content isn’t great content, even if it breaks new ground.

    • Robert Rose

      Awwww… That’s too bad Jeff… My family loved it – including my 16 year old niece… Who thought it was “badass” (her words)…. Just proves “to each his (or her) own…. What I love most is that it’s the opposite of most B2B industrial commercials where they show fancy planes and big piles of sheet metal with scientists walking around saying “we make this”….

      • Jeff Nowak

        Agree with you on that…at least it got our (and our family’s) attention. And “badass” corporate storytelling is a new world! Thanks for your thoughts man.