By Joe Pulizzi published June 6, 2012

Six Useful Content Marketing Definitions

content marketing Our definition of content marketing depends on who we are talking to and what we are doing with it.  Rob Yoegel, Content Marketing Director at Monetate, recently reached out to a group of content marketing experts searching for definitions.

What we realized is that there are a lot of content marketing definitions out there, but not a lot of useful ones for practitioners and content marketers.  So, here’s a number of content marketing definitions depending on your need.

Enjoy, and feel free to define content marketing yourself as well.

Editor’s note: Check out 9 Definitions: How Content Marketing Works Within Marketing for additional explanations. 

Content Marketing – Formal Definition

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for 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.

A content marketing strategy can leverage all story channels (print, online, in-person, mobile, social, etc.), be employed at any and all stages of the buying process, from attention-oriented strategies to retention and loyalty strategies, and include multiple buying groups.

Content marketing is comparable to what media companies do as their core business, except that in place of paid content or sponsorship as a measure of success, brands define success by ultimately selling more products or services.


Content Marketing – Less Formal Definition

Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.

Content Marketing – Elevator Pitch

Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star.  Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.

Source: Robert Rose

Content Marketing – For Practitioners

Content marketing is about delivering the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it. It is the effective combination of created, curated and syndicated content.

Source: Michael Brenner

Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to target audience with the goal of acquiring new customers or increasing business from existing customers.

Source: Amanda Maksymiw

Content Marketing – For Non-Believers

Your customers don’t care about you, your products, your services…they care about themselves, their wants and their needs.  Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.

Need more help to define content marketing?  Here’s 21 more definitions courtesy of Heidi Cohen.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Bernie Borges

    As content marketing continues to mature I believe we need to expand the definition. Content is any experience a customer has with a brand. The way Southwest Airlines engages with their customers is a form of content. 

    Essentially, content marketing is giving your customers a great experience over and over again. If you think this is good customer service, you’re right. And, it’s also another way to think of content marketing. 

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Bernie…honestly, I struggle with that.  Right now, I see a clear differentiation between content marketing, and, say, promotional web content, or tweet responses.  In your example, customer service is customer service.  I would never see that as part of content marketing (never say never, right?).  It may be next to the process, but I don’t see it as part of the process…at least for now.

      Thanks for the input.  You got me thinking.

      • Bernie Borges

        Hi Joe…I admit it’s a bit of a stretch. I hadn’t considered it previously either. The Southwest Airlines example comes to mind because if I fly them and I never consume any of their “traditional content” the only content I might experience is that which is delivered when I experience their brand in action. In that case, isn’t that experience their content? Think about it. 😉  

        • Joe Pulizzi

          My thoughts…content, yes…content marketing, no. 😉

          Thanks my friend!

  • michaelbrenner

    Joe, thank you for including me with this list of amazing content marketers. And thanks to Rob for starting this discussion.

  • Pam Giordano

    It’s creating content that can be used for a wealth of purposes, either totally or in part. Great content can (and should) stand on its own for marketing, sales support, public relations, training, analyst and shareholder relations purposes. It’s the foundation for all our communications.

  • Muhammad Ayaz

    I agree with certainly producing content that helps solving their problems that will create your authority and that make them trust on you.

  • Jacob Stoller

    How about a definition stating that content marketing is a free service that we provide for our customer communities?  This means that those who consume our content on a regular basis become non-paying customers.  Traditional marketers may have trouble with this idea, but companies like Google have thrived on having large numbers of such customers. After all, the people most likely to do business with us are those who know us.  I think clarity around this point can help companies get their heads wrapped around what content marketing is really all about.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Interesting Jacob…I know the “free” part is assumed, but maybe it is needed in the definition for clarification.  Thanks

  • Tax Lady

    I have just read all of these definitions because I have never heard this term.  I still don’t know what it is!  Is there a definition for idiots?  Or do I just not need to know what content marketing is?

  • Scott Carrey

    These are great, concise definitions and very helpful. Thanks for sharing them! I am going to use them in a client meeting in the morning to help set the stage, and will of course credit you for empowering me.

  • Henry

    I have to say I don’t find these definitions useful. Most of these definitions, like others I’ve seen, all use “content” within the definition of “content marketing.” A good definition never uses the word it’s trying to define. The last one is better because it at least replaces “content” with “information.”

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Sorry you didn’t find them useful Henry…feel free to add your own.

      • fh


  • AllenVoivod

    Also, saying the same thing in a number of different ways… which you do so well here! 🙂

  • Paul

    I like to look at from this perspective. It is relevant information/content which connects with your market on an emotional, practical and meaningful way. Good content marketing provokes and relates to the recipient, it moves them and sticks. Please feel free to agree or disagree.