“In the red corner, we have Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-creators of HubSpot and inbound marketing defenders!”

“And, in the blue corner we have Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, and content marketing advocate!”

And the battle rages on. Pick a side, but know, that you can’t be undecided…

But wait. What’s the difference? Isn’t content marketing just a subset of inbound marketing?

You better not say that too loudly, or Joe Pulizzi will hunt you down.

So then isn’t inbound marketing just an incomplete version of content marketing? Halligan and Shah will gladly tell you otherwise.

Can’t there be a middle ground so we can stop listening to this debate rage on?

Content Marketing:

Content Marketing Goals:
-Brand Awareness

-Lead Conversion and Nurturing

-Customer Conversion

-Customer Service

-Customer Loyalty and Retention

-Customer Upsell

-Passionate Subscriber

According to the Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi, in 1895 John Deere first put content marketing into practice by publishing “The Furrow”, which provided end users with best farming practices.

Throughout the 20th century, the use of content marketing continued to expand. Content marketing, coined by Pulizzi in 2001, is designed to earn respect and loyalty of customers by using content in all forms (online, print, and in-person). Pulizzi defines content marketing as, “A marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Inbound Marketing:

Inbound Marketing Goals:




In 2005, Brian Halligan created the term inbound marketing with HubSpot co-founder, Dharmesh Shah. Inbound marketing, at its core, is about pulling customers to you instead of pushing your advertising message on them. Some, including agency executive John McTigue, trace the origins of inbound marketing to Cyrus Hall McCormick in the 1850s, who used educational materials to drum up interest in his farm equipment.

According to the HubSpot website, “Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”

The Difference Between Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing:

In essence, inbound marketing drives traffic to your site by providing great content aligned with customers in different stages of the buying process.

But wait, content marketing is the same thing, isn’t it? So why the debate?

This is simply a marketing tactic by two different companies that provide similar services trying to gain more business. HubSpot says content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. The Content Marketing Institute says inbound marketing covers only a third of the content marketing strategy.

What's the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing?

Which is Better for Your Business?

Because both are so similar, the ideal strategy is one that combines both into a strategy that works for your business, in your location, and in your industry. Then you can call it whatever you want. Neither definition encompasses the promotion of the content through social media or restructuring the strategy based on data, but both are embedded in each strategy.

So, while it may seem like there is no way to be neutral in this debate, most marketing professionals, including Jay Acunzo, don’t care what its called. Just like you and me, they are only concerned with driving business.

No matter what you decide to call it, your business needs to provide current, relevant content to a targeted audience, promote that content through social media, and restructure your strategy as needed based on performance.

For more information, read about the top 10 types of content your business should provide to customers.

Schedule Your Consultation Today!

Tired of constantly trying to rank higher on Google without success? Been burned by snake oil salesmen promising 10,000% percent growth in only a matter of weeks?

Inbound Marketing is a long-term strategy that drives traffic, generates more leads, and increases sales.

B2B companies that blog only 1-2 times a month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t.

Content Marketing provides 3 times more leads per dollar.

Do you have an Inbound Marketing Strategy?



Create Your Story, Promote It, and Perfect Your Strategy

Mike D. O’Brien
Lincoln Park, NJ
[email protected]






Generate more leads through properly structured content. © Mike D. O’Brien 2017

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