I hear this discussion all the time.
I see it in writers’ forums. I hear it from clients and friends.
It’s an underlying assumption that copywriting and content writing are distinctly different, and one or the other is more valuable or important.
Interestingly, there are strong opinions on both sides.
Content writers want you to believe you can market your business with a blog and guest posts—and little else.
Copywriters are convinced their work takes more skill and puts more money in the bank.
Today, I’d like to make the case for both. Because in reality, content and copy are two sides of the same coin.
Are They Really So Different?
Let’s be honest.
Business writing is all about winning customers. And in most businesses, that isn’t a 1-step process.
You’ll use both content and copy to get people’s attention, pull them into your customer journey, and convert them into loyal, repeat customers.
I’m a copywriter and a content strategist. I’m known for my content writing, but for most clients, I write both content and sales copy. The truth is, while content and copy have distinct purposes, they overlap. One picks up where the other leaves off.
Which means you can’t succeed with just one or the other…
Both are needed at every stage of the funnel, from getting attention to making the sale. Both need to be persuasive and customer-focused. Both should solve problems, pique people’s interest, and drive desire.
Look at the best campaigns, and you’ll likely see a strong mix of content and copy.
Content is often the hook, promising valuable information that can transform people’s lives or help them succeed.
Copywriting reels people in, inviting them to take action.
Hook and reel…
Neither is better.
They’re both important. They’re both valuable. They both help you win more customers and make more sales.
What Works for You Is Your Business
Businesses may start at different ends of the spectrum. But if they’re smart, they’ll land in the middle, using both content and copy to build their business.
Direct response publishers take a copywriting-first approach to sell newsletters and membership. Content is the product. Copy makes the sale.
But content can also boost responses.
You’ve probably seen offers of an informative ebook or video series—free, with your subscription to a newsletter or membership site.
Or maybe you’ve been sent an email promising the solution to a problem you’re dealing with. Click through, and you land on a sales page that reads almost like an article. After you’ve been given the promised information, you’re also made an offer.
In these cases, content and copy are stacked and layered to attract the ideal audience and make an irresistible offer.
Direct response publishers start with copywriting. But they make liberal use of content. And they’re skilled at writing both.
It’s similar in funnel-based businesses. Even with their focus on powerful landing pages to do the selling, their funnels start with content.
Their ads promise free information. Once prospects have raised their hand to express interest in that information, they’re offered a low-cost product that complements the free offer. Then, while they’re still engaged, they’re offered the full solution with a full-priced product.
It’s all about using content to attract the target audience, then making offers that become incrementally more valuable.
These funnels start with content, but copy is just as important.
With other businesses, especially SaaS and B2Bs, the goal isn’t to make direct sales (though they’d love it if they could). For them, it’s all about lead generation and then nurturing the relationship until a prospect is ready to buy.
In this case, the blog is where everything starts. New launch coming up? They’ll start publishing articles on that topic in the blog, then bring in some announcement emails. They’ll do some guest posts on blogs where our audience hangs out. Then they’ll do a 3-part video launch, complete with live or pre-recorded webinars, PDF downloads, and a social media push.
So it’s a content-first approach to marketing, but it’s all designed to move people quickly through the funnel to the sales page, where copy will seal the deal.
Bottom line, all these approaches work. Whether the strategy starts with content or with copywriting, the messaging starts people on a journey that culminates in a sale.
And that’s what matters.
It Takes Two to Tango
Some people try to separate content marketing and copywriting.
They’ll say content is for the top of the funnel, copy for the bottom. Or they’ll boast that their expertise is more strategic or more important.
The argument, from my perspective, is moot…
Because both content and copy are necessary. The real skill isn’t in doing one or the other. It’s in learning how to leverage both to boost profits and grow your business.
Bottom line, it takes both.