Lately there has been lots of discussion around both 'content marketing' and 'inbound marketing'. On the former Kat French has written the '10 commandments' for content as well as a recent addendum and Todd Defren (and commenters) has offered a definition of inbound marketing. From the two writers:
[Content marketing is] transforming "information and data" into "engaging, portable, search-friendly content"
Inbound marketing is findability based on authority based on authenticity based on content based on passion.Doing a typical web 2.0 thing, I'll create a mashup:
Content marketing: sharing what you know and have in ways that it makes it easier for people to decide to do business with you.
People make decisions emotionally and they defend their decisions rationally. Content can be used effectively in support of both needs. Along with context, content is paramount to helping people make choices. Consider the purchase of technology or making entertainment choices: we continually consume content in all manner of forms to help (and defend) why we choose what we do. If this is the case then there is no 'one right way' to package and distribute content. Since bits want to be free, our job is to facilitate their dispersion.
PS - I ended up dropping the explicit reference to inbound because in this day and age of the social graph, engagement and conversations I simply lose track of the concept of 'us' and 'them' or sides. Inbound still has a bit of company centricity to it. If there is 'inbound' marketing then there must be 'outbound' marketing where the only difference I see is a possible swapping of 'telling stories' for 'findability'. If you aren't an authentic, passionate authority then you probably shouldn't be a marketer.