The Difference Between Marketing and Messaging

“What’s content strategy” is a tough question to answer concisely. You want to describe the process without making it sound like copywriting, or marketing, or (God forbid) a buzz word. Explaining content strategy is, in effect, explaining the difference between marketing and messaging.

This is the struggle I face each year when I lead Atlas Workshops trips. The students want to connect new ideas to their old, preconceived notions. And yet they have much less business experience than their adult counterparts. This makes it even more difficult to explain the concept of strategy – and content strategy – and experience strategy – and relate it to anything they know.

That’s what makes it all the more magical when mutual understanding happens organically.

Creating a Message

It happened in Dubrovnik. We had asked the students to come up with titles for their projects, titles that could then be printed on brochures or cover pages for their final deliverables. One student was particularly excited. She was hoping to work on marketing in the future, and she was an excellent writer.

As we walked to lunch she began telling me her title ideas: Island of Beauty, A Vacation to Remember, Celebrating Luxury, and so on. All of her titles were similar in that they were catchy and memorable. But they didn’t mean anything. I struggled with how to explain it to her.

“These titles all sound great, and people will certainly like them, but they don’t tell us anything in particular,” I hedged. “Can you come back with 5 titles that don’t just sound nice, but also have some meaning behind them? We want to communicate a specific message to the people who read this – what is that message?”

Marketing and Messaging

Good marketing grabs attention. Many of my student’s titles did that – who wouldn’t find “Celebrating Luxury” catchy? But good messaging goes farther.

Good messaging connects to the target audience. It puts meaning behind the catchy title. In doing so, it encourages people to continue reading. They know they’re not seeing fluff. Their attention is captured, and it’s kept.

The best marketers use content strategies to create content that is both memorable and meaningful.

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