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Is Content an Asset or an Expense?

Content AssetJim Burns from Avitage recently asked me a question.

Do most marketing professionals view content marketing as an asset?

The answer is no…no almost across the board.  Marketers view spending on content marketing as an expense. This is something we as marketing professionals have to change.

First some questions.

What Is an Asset?

According to Investopedia, an asset is “a resource with economic value that …a corporation… owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.”

Assets, like a house or a stock investment, is a purchase that can increase in value over time.

Traditionally, marketing spend has been viewed as an expense.  Take advertising for example: We create the ad and distribute it over a fixed time, then it’s over. Hopefully that expense has been transferred into some brand value or direct sales exchange, but the event itself is over.

Content marketing is different and needs to be viewed and treated differently.

Acquiring the Asset of Content

For whatever your goals, whether they be direct sales goals, lead generation goals, search engine optimization tactics or social media tactics, you are spending more money on content acquisition and distribution.  In our soon-to-be-released content marketing study, six of 10 marketing professionals are increasing their investment in content marketing (less than 5% are decreasing investment).

For that reason alone, we need to think differently about acquiring content assets.

Yes, you are not acquiring content expenses.

Thinking Like a Publisher

We are all publishers, and that means thinking differently about content.

When you invest in a video, a podcast, or a white paper, those pieces of content create value for you in a couple ways.

  1. The finished content can be engaged in over a long period of time. It has shelf life. That means the content creates value long after the investment is paid off (fitting the definition of an asset). The easiest example is for search engine optimization.  One blog post can deliver returns for years after production.
  2. Content can and should be reimagined/repurposed. You may start by investing in a video, but at the end of the year, that one video may result in 10 videos, five blog posts, two podcasts and 30 sales tools fit for different levels of buying cycle.

How Does This Thinking Help?

Thinking in these terms will help you in a couple ways:

  1. If you treat content in this way, the executives in your organization will stop treating content as that “soft, fluffy thing” that they can take or leave. Every meeting or conversation you have, use the word “asset”.  Live it.  It will start to rub off and will gain importance in the company.
  2. By thinking this way, you will be more active in marketing the asset. I heard a story recently about a company that invested $30,000 USD in a white paper and received one download.  Sounds like a marketing problem, not necessarily a content problem.  Would you plan to sell your house but not tell anyone about it?  A lot of organizations do that with their content.  Make sure it’s not you.

We need to elevate the practice of content marketing. This will help get us there.  Please do your part!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock