Confused about the difference between writing and marketing? You’re in good company. The line between the two is often blurred, especially since you can’t have effective marketing without some form of writing.
The river of content jargon isn’t easily navigated — even, at times, by industry insiders. In the case of writing and marketing, the two complement each other often but they’re far from being interchangeable.
Knowing the difference between writing and marketing can help you better leverage each one to its advantages and set you on course for success:
Writing Isn’t Marketing, But Why Not?
When you think of marketing, websites, social media, and sales collateral immediately spring to mind. All of these require written content, so why isn’t marketing the same as writing?
In simplest terms, writing is the process of creating content, such as blog posts, landing pages, social media headlines, and email newsletters, whereas marketing is the strategy behind how you use your written tools.
There are two types of writing in the marketing world: content writing and copywriting (another set of terms that confuse most people).
Content writing encompasses many types of long-form writing, including blog articles, white papers, and other strategy pieces that are written solely for the purpose of content marketing. These pieces are typically optimized for SEO, including the use of keywords, link building, and meta descriptions. Writers will typically create the piece with a particular audience and channel in mind and craft their words to appeal to these specifics. Ultimately, a well-written piece of content will engage the target audience, build trust, and make the company who commissioned the piece seem authoritative in their line of work.
On the other side of this same coin, copywriting is short, pithy text that’s meant to grab attention, spur action, or give helpful information in short bursts. For example, copywriting is used in advertisements, product packaging, video scripts, social media headlines, and other marketing material. Its goal is to present concise explanations or short details that will help to persuade an audience.
Marketing uses both copywriting and content writing to achieve an end result, depending on the type of material and the intent behind it. It takes a skilled writer to do both, as each requires much more thought, creativity, and aptitude than simply forming words.
Writing vs. Marketing — Who Will Win?
Think of marketing and writing as two essential cornerstones to your goal — you can’t have one with the other. Your written pieces, whether they were created by a content writer or a copywriter, communicate your unique value propositions to your customers, but they’ll never be effective if no one reads them.
One doesn’t happen without the other. Rather, you first need to determine what goals you want to achieve, then figure out what kind of written material can take you to the finish line.
Let’s say you want to drive more website traffic to boost your search rankings. There are several ways you could go about this, including:
- Writing SEO blog posts to gain organic traffic
- Sharing blog posts on your social media channels
- Investing in an AdWords campaign
If you opt for SEO blog posts, you’ll most certainly need a content writer behind the keyboard. They understand the mechanics of writing for both people and algorithms. Every good content writer knows how to perform keyword research, use links to build authority, and format the piece for better readability.
However, if you’re planning on sharing this post with your social audiences, you’ll likely want to use a copywriter’s expertise to craft a catchy headline and description to entice readers to click through.
Regardless of who you choose to write your stuff, your marketing strategy is ultimately pulling the strings. Marketing leverages writing to achieve a goal, at which point your carefully crafted words can be read and enjoyed by others.
It’s important to realize that some content terms have different meanings for different people. Even those professionally invested in the field may find themselves using copy writing and content writing interchangeably or believing that marketing and writing are one in the same.
Just remember that whatever you write, be it copy or content, it’s not going to market itself. Your words are your most powerful marketing tool, but you need to know how you plan to use them.