The Difference Between Content Marketing and Content Selling (and Why It Matters)

Both the marketing and sales world has changed over the past decade with the introduction of content and information sharing technologies. In order to learn more about this change and what marketing and sales people can do, I have created this post to talk about how tried and true content marketing tactics translate into the new practice of content selling.


In the following, I will share the new thinking needed to succeed, what the difference is between content marketing and content selling, how start-ups and organizations should rethink content strategy, and what the future holds.

Marketers and Sales People Thinking

Marketers think about things like ideal prospects, ideal customer profiles, unique selling propositions or value propositions, reputation management, authority and education – those are things that today’s salesperson must both understand and contribute in the creation of.

Salespeople think about things like personalized information, engagement and relationships – those are things that today’s marketers must both understand and participate in.

It’s time to unite Sales and Marketing thinking under the same roof.

Enter Content Marketing

Content marketing has changed how businesses sell to other businesses and consumers. The need to produce content in marketing has grown as today is more about being found—earning the attention of ideal prospects or ideal customers—and less about going out and hunting. Especially if you’re interested in marketing successfully (and who isn’t at this point), you can’t escape hearing about content marketing. It’s everywhere you look, or listen.

Content marketing is the creation of free valuable content that has a marketing purpose. That purpose is awareness, educating and building know, like and trust,with ideal prospects or ideal customers, enough to do business with you. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior.

Enter Content Selling

Content not only has a marketing purpose but a selling purpose as well.

The key difference between the two content applications is that while Content Marketing is broadly cast at an ideal prospect or ideal client persona or description, Content Selling is focused on an actual individual prospect or customer needand is utilized on a much more personal level. And since sales owns the relationships, socially savvy sales reps are becoming content publishers and curators, finding and sharing content that is interesting and relevant to actual prospects or customers. Some are even using LinkedIn Pulse or personal blogs, to boost their thought leader status among real buyers.

Another key difference is that the use of Content Selling is based on the notion that you and the buyer have identified that there is a problem to be solved or something to be fixed.

Any organization that wants to get found online, differentiate their business, attract prospects, convert leads, engage their customers and ultimately grow their business needs to get serious and strategic about content marketing and content selling. There is nothing novel about content itself. Every company creates content, but content marketing and content selling is using content for a distinct purpose: to attract, engage and convert.