Content vs. Copy: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Jun 2



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“All copy is content but not all content is copy.”

Alexander Santo,

Senior Writer at Brafton Inc.

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What is content?

Content is any information made available to an audience. This could be in the form of videos, eBooks, white papers, infographics, podcasts, templates, case studies, blogs, articles, and even copywriting. Content and content marketing are used to increase brand awareness by establishing credibility and authority in any given field.


Historically, content can be found on cave walls, hieroglyphics in pyramids, accounts of village bards and criers, the first scriptures and literary stories like that of The Canterbury Tales, and then eventually in publications released to the masses using innovative printing press technologies. However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that content began to take on a new role for its audiences. When business people in this era think of content, they are usually referring to content marketing.


CONTENT MARKETING really took hold with the release and mass distribution of informational magazines like The Furrow which is an agricultural magazine still in publication 125 years later. Slowly, this type of marketing spread onto the radio and television programming, evolving to better represent the customer experience. Content marketing developed further when the new millennium arrived. In the first decades of the year 2000, the internet exploded with blogs, videos, webinars, and Ereaders. The progress in technology combined with algorithms and advanced search engines allows for a more personalized experience for users who have to sift through mountains of now readily available, mixed quality, content at their fingertips.


It was around the time that content began spreading into the radio and television space that creators took note of effective strategies that increased sales generation. Studies and experiments were conducted and a ‘new’ form of content was created - COPY.


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“In a short span of time, ad copy evolved from hackneyed and prescriptive blocks of text to bold and psychologically aware consumer appeals.”

Alexander Santo,

Senior Writer at Brafton Inc.

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What is copy?

Copy is written words that get people to take action. An action could be anything from buying a product or service to giving an email, joining a group, or even just reading on. You typically find copywriting on websites, sales pages, email sequences, ads, brochures, landing pages, etc. Since copywriting is a type of content people often confuse the two but remember, “all copy is content, but not all content is copy.” (Alexander Santo, Senior Writer at Brafton Inc.). So, although some copywriting could be injected into a piece of content, that does not mean that the entire piece of content is considered to be copywritten.


The term copywriting came into the marketing world in the early 1900s but the strategies and tropes involved in its use actually date back to the Ancient Grecian era when Aristotle, Plato, and the arrival of the sophists birthed the study and practice of rhetoric.


Rhetoric is, simply, the art of persuasion. This method of communication began as an oratory art that developed into a written dogma of established tropes and strategies intended to persuade audiences to take action, change/establish certain beliefs, and effectively teach the masses.


The development from speech to writing is an important part of copy because of how technologies have advanced throughout the ages. Now that we are functioning in a predominantly online space, where people consume information at an astounding pace, the effectiveness of each word is vital. Interestingly, our online medium has allowed for a loopback toward the oratory form of persuasion but these videos and other auditory marketing tools are still often scripted use copywriting as a base of content. Also, most of the writing found online, copy or otherwise, is created to replicate speech which is one of the many reasons why the ancient rhetorical guidelines are still applicable today.


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Content marketers employ effective copywriting and other types of content to improve conversion rates, build audiences and spread brand awareness.

Alexander Santo,

Senior Writer at Brafton Inc.

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Content vs. Copy: What’s the difference?

Content is an umbrella term that encompasses many different media, including copywriting. What sets copywriting apart from the other forms of content is the call to action. For a business to grow and thrive its content needs to have an “ask,” a suggested path, a guiding hand in decision making that persuades the consumer to invest in the product or service - that’s copy. Another easy way to remember the difference between content and copy is the saying: “Content tells, copy sells.” (Alexander Santo, Senior Writer at Brafton Inc.)


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“Content tells, copy sells.”

Alexander Santo,

Senior Writer at Brafton Inc.

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I’d love to have a chat about how your content may or may not be serving you. If you have any questions or concerns about your content, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


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