September 21, 2021

Content marketing vs. traditional marketing

A vibrant display of social media marketing success by Upward Consulting.

If you’re wondering how is content marketing different from traditional marketing then you’re in the right place.

What is content marketing?

In a previous post, we looked at what is content marketing and why creating powerful content marketing is worth the effort.

Content marketing is marketing that involves the creation of blog articles, videos, infographics in order to raise awareness and stimulate interest in a brand (without explicitly promoting).

Content creation is an inbound marketing technique that allows consumers to make an informed decision when they interact with your brand. With content marketing, you can nurture your business audience and turn them into clients or customers.

“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.” – John Buscall

What is traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing is an interruptive marketing strategy that pushes information to a wide audience of people – even when they haven’t asked to see it. It can occur as TV ads, radio adds, or in print (magazine ads, billboards) or other formats (like telemarketing, or direct mailing)

How is content marketing different from traditional marketing?

Here are 5 ways that content marketing and traditional marketing differ.

1. Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing difference: Permission vs. Interruption

TV addTraditional marketing is pushed to consumers when they are doing something else (i.e. watching TV, driving or listening to Spotify) and they are interrupted with ads. Web pop-ups or social media ads are other digital marketing that is interruptive.

Content marketing is content that is discovered by consumers because they are actively searching for it. They have given the permission to be marketed to.

2. Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing difference: Earned Audience vs. Rented Audience

The second difference between content marketing and traditional marketing is that it addressed the earned audience vs. rented audience.

Traditional marketing strategies are addressed to a “rented” audience. Traditional marketers pay money to have their message viewed by a certain set of people. Rented billboards, radio airtime PPC ads are examples of traditional marketing.

Content marketing is addressed to an earned audience, to people who want to consume your content because they choose to do so. It’s more effective in building trust.

3. Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing difference: Conversation vs. Monologue

The key difference in communication is that “traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them” – Doug Kessler

Quite simply, traditional marketing is a monologue and content marketing is a dialogue.

The aim of content marketing is engagement, to start a conversation with your audience. You want them to engage with your brand to build trust, so later they can purchase from you.

Traditional marketing ads don’t ask for an immediate response from the audience. They provide unsolicited information about a product or service in hope that the viewers will be convinced to buy.

4. Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing difference: Value Information vs. Sale Pitch

Content Marketing materials offers something of value to those who want to consume them. Traditional advertising tends to include only information with sell intent. For example, direct advertising like a TV commercial, for example, tells you about a product, what it does, why they need it and where they can get it.

Content creation provides value and is indirect. It’s not necessarily tailored to one product, but to one demographic (to a buyer persona). For example, if you are an air conditioning company you might feature blog posts on the difference between the air conditioning and the ceiling fans. This is information that your audience might find useful.

Through call-to-action (CTA) at the end of engaging blog articles, you can drive people to your business.

5. Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing difference: Measurable vs. No Data

Content Marketing is measurable and can be easily refined to be more effective. This allows content marketers to track the performance of individual content and to see if this will convert into leads.

Traditional marketing is static, as usually is harder to change and there is no data or analytics to see how many people driving on the freeway saw your billboard.


In conclusion, is one better than the other? Not at all. In fact, many successful companies make use of both traditional and content marketing. Coca Cola is a prime example of this. This brand has long been known for traditional advertisements that tell a story—everything from jolly Santa enjoying a Coke at Christmas to images of smiling families sharing a can of soda. However, Coca Cola has following a content marketing plan to continue the storytelling in a more interactive way.

Dorin Blaga Upward Consulting