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Content or Copy? What’s the Difference?

8/02/21

Content Creation, Content Marketing, Content Planning

“Soooo…do y’all write copy or content?” We get this question all the time. We always answer “both,” but what we really want to say is, “Does it matter??” It doesn’t matter what we call it. Call it copy or call it content — the point is, everything we do is rooted in strategy. The meaning is more important than the title.

We know that this goes against the grain for a lot of copywriters and content creators. Bear with us as we break down why we say it doesn’t matter.

A couple of official definitions

Here’s what the Cambridge English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster have to say about copy and content.

Copy

noun

Written text that is to be printed, or text that is intended to help with the sale of a product.

“Hey, that paragraph you wrote will make really great copy for this product.”

See also: body copy, editorial copy, copywriting

Content 

Noun

The topics or matter treated in a written work; the principal substance (such as written matter) offered by a website; the ideas that are contained in a piece of writing, a speech, or a movie.

“What did you think of the content in that book/movie/podcast/YouTube video?”

See also: form, matter, substance, meaning  

Based on these definitions, it’s safe to say that in general, copy is meant to sell. Words you see in advertising or marketing can be called copy. Copy may be used to persuade a person to buy something or to make a person take notice of a brand.

You might think of copywriters as creative types who know how to “speak to the consumer.” Imagine stylish people in a midcentury office, drinking and smoking up a storm while brainstorming witty advertisements and slogans a la Mad Men.

In comparison, content is a broader term for writing, as well as the ideas and topics contained within that writing. Content is meant to express information; it can educate or inspire or raise awareness. Content also goes beyond the written word, and includes infographics, images, videos, all that good stuff. See our blog for more examples on all the different types of content.

We don’t have a go-to stereotype for content writers or content marketers, so just picture someone working from their home office, consuming gallons of coffee and sporting a frazzled facial expression. Probably wears glasses and has at least one cat. (Sound familiar?)

Now that we’ve covered the “official” definitions, let’s throw all that out and talk about why you need copy and content to work in harmony for your biz.

Why you need both content and copy

Okay, so copy sells. Content educates and raises awareness. Cool. But in our humble opinion, everything you write, communicate, and use to connect with your audience should be rooted in education and awareness. That, in and of itself, sells, much better than plain old ad copy.

Ever stumbled across copy written by a brand that felt so desperate and slimy that you remembered the brand in a bad way? Kinda like dealing with an icky used car salesman. We’re betting it was because the brand didn’t show you why you should care about what they’re selling. They failed to build that connection with you first. They just had sales on the brain.

On the flip side, maybe you’ve noticed a brand that’s amazing at building a relationship with their audience! They seem real on social media, they have tons of great free resources available on their website, they just get you. And you wonder, “How can I work with this person more??” or “Wait, how do I buy their stuff?!”

You can’t just create value-focused content and never sell your offers. You can’t just sell and never share your expertise. You need to do both. You also need to choose your content topics in a way that bleeds into your copy. Make it hard to tell the difference between the two.

Here’s an example of how to blend content and copy

Say you have a new group coaching program launching soon. What are you doing right now that will get your target audience excited about this new offer? 

You should already be showing up with valuable, exciting content that makes your potential customers say, “Hell yeah, I’m on board!” This valuable, exciting content should tie into the intention or curriculum of your coaching program. Give your people a taste of what they can expect when they buy your stuff.

As your launch date nears, think about what sales copy you can add to your content to give your potential customers a little push. Continue to offer value, but throw in a pitch to the program. Make it natural and don’t try too hard. Include little bits of sales copy in your social posts, emails, blogs, YouTube video descriptions, and more.

Strategy matters most

We hope this has all made it clear that your content should lend itself to your copy. You should be integrating some sales copy into your content so you can sell your offers candidly. Stop thinking of content and copy as “content vs. copy.” Instead, you might think “content strategy” above all. 

When everything you write and put out into the world is intended to provide value to your customers, not simply rack up the big bucks, we bet you’ll see better conversions, more leads, and happier customers.

If you’re like, “How in the world do I focus on the strategy to create content and copy that helps build my brand and sell more?” We have something for you…

The Uncanny Content Strategy Training

Inside this video, you’ll see how Latasha (Uncanny Content founder) creates a content strategy, editorial calendar, and tasks for our clients. You’ll see how we strategize for product-based and service-based businesses to create content that engages and leads organically to more conversions. 

She’ll break down the steps to defining your strategy, including what you need BEFORE you get started on your content planning. From there, she’ll guide you through our exact process for mapping out content that is easy to create and share. Last, she’ll show you how to blend copy into the runway for more impactful promotions.

Want all that? Good news — it’s free! Simply drop your name and email here and you’ll get immediate access to this 35-minute video training.

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