By Joe Pulizzi published July 22, 2009

Building a Marketing Asset (take the red pill)

Assets are good.

Stocks that you sell high and buy low. Home prices that grow year after year. A Mickey Mantle rookie card.

Can you tell an asset from a liability?

Most people can in their personal lives. Cash-rich versus debt-poor. How about health versus sickness.

It’s not that easy in marketing. Marketing tactics aren’t black and white like cash and debt.  Marketing tactics are very dependent on objectives, customer segments and expectations. They are also very dependent on what the chief marketer is comfortable with, understands, and what they like…not necessarily what’s best.

But let’s imagine (in the voice Morpheus). Let’s wake up tomorrow focusing solely on building marketing assets. That means focusing on activities that our customers can use or engage in many times, and that they can easily spread to other people just like them. Let’s focus on things that build relationships, that help our customers before, during, and after they buy (or don’t buy) our products and services.

What does that look like?

  • A blog
  • A branded content tool
  • A video series
  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • A book
  • An article series
  • A research report
  • An iPhone app
  • A webinar series
  • A community site
  • A Twitter tips channel
  • A custom magazine
  • A screencast
  • A shared tip
  • An online answer that’s helpful
  • A comment that’s thoughtful

What do all these things have in common?

They’re helpful. They have a shelf life. They can be shared with others. They position you as an expert.

It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But we don’t live in that world yet.

We still live in the world that believes interruption sells. We still live in a world where marketers are doing more selling than educating, more persuading than helping. We still live in a world where the majority of marketing dollars goes toward traditional advertising.

It won’t be easy.  All I’m offering is the truth. Take the red pill.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Karl Foxley

    It’s certainly true what you are sharing here today!
    One of the websites I spend the most time on offers step-by-step guides to improving your experience and productivity with Vista, XP, web browsers etc. They have affiliate related products on the site but they never push them on the reader, they show you how helpful they can be and they also share alternatives.
    For me the website offers true value as I learn something new every time I visit.
    Thanks for sharing,

  • Jonathan Kranz

    You know, looking ahead, I DO see a role for traditional media that doesn’t interrupt, but helps sustain relationships.
    The context? Within the next few years, I suspect we’ll see a digital backlash, a kind of collective craving for the tangible, the physical. Something real, not just bits and bytes.
    In this world, I see direct mail as a logical extension of the relationships built or initiated online. (Imagine, for example, sending packs of beautifully designed stickers to preteen fans of your band — or brand.)
    I wouldn’t hold the wake for trad marketing just yet. Instead, expect it to morph in ways we haven’t imagined.

  • Joe Pulizzi

    @Karl…thanks for the insight.
    @Jonathan…I agree with you. Traditional media will evolve in something more useful…it will have to in order to be accepted and engaged with. At least, this is my hope.

  • Matthew Ray Scott

    Another great post.
    I love the emphasis on listing those know, like, and trust relationship building activities.
    We find with our clients that it is always valuable and never assumed that when we list, Here is what you need to do and build relationships and focus on revenue-producing activities our clients tend to have opportunity to build a “cookbook.” Want to build relationships-choose the following ingredients and mix.
    The video of the Red Pill is also a perfect tie-in.
    I do think interruption marketing is RIP, but I still say a reality in our distracted society is to provide tactful and obvious nudges vs. “pokes.”
    Great post.

  • Les

    Building marketing assets is where it’s at. You can spend all day trading hours for dollars online but unless you build something solid that will pay you over and over for years to come you will still be trading hours for dollars years from now.

  • Tim Lloyd

    I’ve recently started working with Social Media News Releases (SMNRs) which appear to be a great way of aggregating all your assets in one place.
    I’ve yet to test effectiveness, but worth a look in my opinion.

  • Promotional Products

    This is some great information. Arming customers with information like you have listed is greatly appreciated by customers and makes them realize that you care about helping them succeed instead of just seeing them as dollar signs.

  • Mediaman

    It’s always nice to see a little thinking take place.
    Let’s not forget that although we have better than 80% Internet usage, not all users do and want the same thing. Depending on your product or service, the other 20% could be VERY valuable.
    If you are targeting an older generation,traditional media may be the only way to reach them, and because of the expense, your product or service or brand-building effort needs real and measurable results to justify tht approach.

  • Joe Pulizzi

    Hi Barry…I don’t disagree with you…I still believe in traditional media. But, without an underlying flow of consistent content creation that is valuable, it will be very difficult to help that traditional media get its legs.
    Point is, if you are going to spend the money on a traditional program, you better have your content strategy house in order.
    Thanks for your comment.

  • johnpeter

    ya i agree with you

  • James The Forex Trading Guru

    I feel traditional media is on its way out. People are so bombarded these days we have become immune to most of it.

  • Oli Hille

    Yeah I like the Matrix references and too many people are stealing our time and not giving real value.

  • Anna

    I do make an effort to provide useful information in my niche sites and not push the affiliate product too hard.
    And I’m hoping that helping and educating readers will also be financially beneficial to me.

  • Cilla

    It’s a difficult balancing act to give value in an article, and make money without sounding salesy. Some marketers do it better than others, that’s for sure!