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November 20, 2013


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Dragan Mestrovic

Very true David, all of these but not limited to these channels are ways to reach the goal to bring the word out to the right buyer persona :-)


This post is very true -- it is marketing. I hate when people say social media. Everything is just marketing!!!!

Thanks David for putting it together.

Kevin Behringer

Good point, David. I think a lot of the distinction of marketing as content marketing, inbound marketing, etc is likely pushback against what marketing's reputation has become. I think modifying "marketing" with something like "content" is many times an effort to distance the new form of creating useful resources as marketing from what many see as the old, distasteful practice of marketing. It seems, in many cases, to increase the cache of what people are doing and help them feel better about what they're doing.

David Meerman Scott

Dragan and Jonathan - thanks for jumping in.

Kevin - Interesting point. Marketing used to mean advertising to most people. Distasteful indeed. I hadn't really thought about the new terms distancing from old marketing. Thanks for that.


I'd love to hear your opinion about how these strategies are separated by paid and organic subsets.

Since most often the term "Search Engine Marketing" refers to PPC campaigns, paid efforts with an entire tactical set of skills needed for bending CPC downwards and SEO, at least the merit-based whitehat manifestation, is about winning the visit in search organically, I've often seen "Social media marketing" used in reference to paid content / promotional community efforts (not display advertising) in social networks, as a corollary to SEM. Obviously, social discovery of content, popular content, scales for better ROI and influences also the value chain from search (inbound).

In the same vein, Joe Pulizzi wrote recently about how he doesn't see Inbound, as a search and social discovery strategy, as synonymous with a broad Content Marketing strategy, but a component of it. Since many content marketing tactics involves a paid promotional effort or other outbound "interruptive" marketing endeavors, then can't there be some room for a distinction between Inbound/Content?

Thanks much.

Brian, a fan


You are right. There are a lot of people already who think at all those names as one. If they understand that everything falls into one big category and act to put this in action the impact is so much bigger.

David Meerman Scott

Hi Brian, interesting that Joe P. (who is a friend) does not see Inbound the same as Content Marketing. We'll need to get him to comment here (!!).

I have little expertise in paid. I'm just not a big believer in it as a long term strategy. While I know that it makes sense for some companies, I don't advocate it because I don't understand it well enough. Everything I write and speak about concerns free. So I advocate anyone with a paid budget to plow that money into hiring journalists to create organic content.


David...thanks for the post and Brian, thanks for calling me out.

It's funny, someone asked me the other day what "content marketing" would be called in 5 years, and I said "marketing".

So, big picture, there isn't a lot of difference. But if you really want to look at the definitions, there is quite a bit of difference. Inbound Marketing (as Hubspot has defined it traditionally) is top of the funnel. It does not include customer retention/loyalty content and (as Brian states very well) does not include outbound marketing strategies (that is used often in content marketing, such as in custom magazines).

Robert Rose and I actually penned a post about this a couple years ago (here it is...although it should be noted that Hubspot and CMI have since made up http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2011/11/content-marketing-inbound-marketing/).

At the same time, not all content marketing is brand journalism (like Adobe's CMO.com) and social media marketing, as a term, may or may not include a consistent use of original or curated content (there is paid and listening and other tactics included in that).

Then you can really get into the weeds and argue that some of what is considered content marketing right now is really just clever advertising (here's an article on that http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/08/content-marketing-or-clever-advertising/).

This is all inside baseball mind you, but some important distinctions. What's exciting is that now, the core of what we are talking about - as you did with Cashing in with Content David (great book) - creating epic content to attract and retain customers - is now a core part of the marketing function. Now that's exciting stuff.

Thanks for keeping the conversation going David (and thanks Brian!).

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for jumping in Joe!

It is AMAZING that just a decade ago none of this existed. Now it is mainstream and we are debating the different types and definitions of how to reach buyers with content.

Damn, is this exciting or what?!

But, yeah. Five years from now, it is just marketing.

Irakli Beselidze

Thanks David for paying attention to this topic. Marketing is about delivering the right message to the right people to persuade them buy your product. From this point of view you can invent a list "marketings" according to your potential buyers' touchpoints: Trade show marketing, Webinar marketing, Friend's opinion marketing or whatever marketing. Usually marketers create new types of marketing to become a thought leader in a certain niche, but in fact it leads to inflation of marketing itself. You are absolutely right David: We do not need many types of marketing to help companies sell their products. Just one.

Thomas Petty

Thanks for this article David. I also like to call it "attraction marketing" (as opposed to "interrupt marketing"). I do a lot of speaking and teaching workshops, and always say that "People who do online search are looking for the answers to their problems. If your content answers or addresses their problems, then you've connected with them. At that point, they're more likely to do business with you." Attract people to your stuff when they are interested in it, rather than stuffing it in their faces (with ads) when 99% of them don't care.

But you're right, it's just "marketing". The old ways just don't work any more.

Tom Petty (also a fan!)

David Meerman Scott

Irakli - Yes, I only covered the web-based content ideas but of course there are all the others that you mention.

Tom - I had never heard "attraction marketing" before. But it does seem like the same idea as those other terms.

Pam McNamara

David, thanks for introduction to Ben Dillon and the Healthcare Internet Conference. Was not aware of it before. Will plan to attend next year. Grazie.


Geraint Holliman

David you're absolutely right. It is all just 'marketing' but as marketers we are just as susceptible to 'new and shiny' terms as anyone else - if only because it allows us all to claim (perhaps vainly) some differentiated expertise that others might not have. Only when everyone else has caught on will we seek the next big thing and content/inbound/attraction will become part of normal marketing.

The same issue arises in the agency world. In the future, if not now, ALL agencies will be digital in some way. If they want to deliver compelling communication for their clients then they will have to be digital, they have no choice. Nevertheless, the benefits of the 'traditional' agency skills of insight, branding, creativity and project management will also continue to be required - so perhaps every agency will simply become 'hybrid'? Or just 'agency'!


I think people should differentiate such things in order to use them effectively. Thank you for a good article!


Sounds like a prophecy=)

Well, I agree, people tend to simplify things and, I guess, your prediction will come in few years.

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