Copy vs. Content: What’s the Difference?


In the marketing world, there’s a significant difference between content and copy. While most folks might never consider the nuances of either, to marketers, the specifics of each are a big deal, highlighting the importance of detail in an industry based on competition. So, what is the difference?

Let’s take a look:


Copy is an instrument of persuasion. It is written material used for the intent of selling its audience a specific idea and/or product. Much of the advertising industry is based on copy, using words to grab the attention of an audience and influence it in some way. Examples of copy include ads, brochures, web pages, direct mail and email campaigns, press releases and catalogs.


Content, on the other hand, is information that is presented to an audience as a service. Like copy, it can be presented as written material, but it can also be distributed via other media means, as well. And unlike copy, its sole purpose is not to encourage sales, but to educate, much like traditional journalism, using data to build trust, generate thought and inform further discussion. Examples of content include blogs, podcasts, videos, photos, books, articles, films and TV shows.

How to Use Copy and Content

From the early 1900s, companies were using both copy and content to inform their consumers. Today, they do the same. This is because smart businesses recognize that in addition to being informed themselves, their customers need to be informed, too. Thus, they use content to educate their audience and copy to seal the deal. It’s a win-win for all involved, but only if the content, copy and context apply to the audience at hand.

In today’s markets, companies rely on good research to devise profitable marketing schemes. A solid market analysis, for example, whether it uses a qualitative or quantitative research design, helps marketers and companies develop copy and content that resonates with consumers, fostering brand loyalty and ultimately driving sales. After all, good business relies on recognizing and addressing a need. What better way to grab people’s attention (copy) or teach them a pertinent fact (content) than to ask them what they like and want and need outright?

Adequately researching the market at the start of any project gives writers a context for the work at hand. It helps provide answers for “why?” and “to what purpose?” their work should and will be applied and allows them to create copy and/or content that is specific and authoritative and inspires action.

Indeed, savvy companies do more than rely on good research; they strategically leverage insight so that both their copy and their content are meaningful, creative and well-written. In this way, audience interest is either immediately or eventually peaked and results in the purchase of ideas and emotions, as well as products and services!