Is Content Marketing an Asset or an Expense?

Content Marketing Is An Asset

Back in 2011, Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi published an article on this topic. When asked the question, “Do marketing professionals view content marketing as an asset?,” his answer was no, and resoundingly so.

We decided to visit the topic ourselves, circa 2016, based on our own experiences in the modern-day marketing world. So, what has changed? Are companies viewing content marketing as an asset these days?

We don’t think so. Even as companies fill their content marketing cart, many powers that be still want to push it in front of the horse. It’s still seen as an expense, even as companies like GE invest BIG in their publishing efforts—and produce incredible results.

As Pulizzi points out:

“Traditionally, marketing spend has been viewed as an expense … 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.”

Like most things worth more than a train-flattened dime, the hardest part is starting. When Content marketing doesn’t produce immediate results, palms sweat and eyes roll. Budgets are rerouted and broadcast era marketing tactics resume control. However, campaign-based era advertising is becoming less sustainable and more futile. Companies need to invest in creating owned media assets that continue to add value over time—and repurposed or referenced at will.

Content Marketing Is an Investment

Companies often fill their annual marketing budgets with high-cost, high-return marketing campaigns. These investments include TV ads, point-of-sale, print ads, direct mail, display ads, and other, more traditional marketing executions. When marketers need numbers to share with their bosses and their clients, pressure turns to paralysis. They abandon content creation plans and turn to seasonal, one-off initiatives to convey value and justify marketing spend.

Marketing directors and brand managers then deliver reports to the desk of execs who, in turn, share with vested persons of interest. If nothing else, brand leaders can guarantee that eyes and ears will land on their brand.

Why produce when you can publish? Why project fleeting messages when you can collect and deliver valuable, lasting information that lives on, changes forms, builds your brand, and gives life to future campaigns? Why rent space to spread your message when you can own it?

It’s time to stop producing, and start publishing.

The Answer

Content marketing, when done right, can deliver more value than any one campaign ever could. But it’s a marathon; the marketing equivalent of the mutual fund. Its value appreciates over time and opens the door for more impactful word-of-mouth and influencer campaigns, as well as larger content resources built to educate consumers and generate leads. Companies want sprint initiatives.

Take the end of a fiscal year, for example. When company directors and managers find themselves with leftover budget dollars, they often throw it at whatever can create—or resemble—short-term success. A lot of content has the potential to go viral overnight, but you can’t just pour kerosene on everything and hope for flames. Spending those last-ditch dollars to build a content arsenal may seem like a waste. Yes, it probably won’t get you over that goal hump before year’s end. But we can’t think of a better way to end a year.

Content Marketing Is Worth It

Yes, content marketing is an expense. Time is money. And it takes time, collaboration, and patience to build out—and deliver on—a built-to-last content strategy. You need to get your internal teams on board. You need contributors by the plenty. And you need to find a ringleader on the brand side, establish publishing schedules, and create impactful and meaningful experiences.

Moreover, you need big evergreen ideas, long-term plans, and cohesive strategies. You have to digitize old content and prioritize the creation of new content too. Sales teams and marketing teams must collaborate. Companies and agencies must work closely together, because when it comes to content marketing, proximity is power. And transparency is powerful. You need to invest in ideation, creation, publishing, distribution, and more. Valuable resource dollars will go towards blogs, hubs, infographics, videos, eBooks, webinars, and any execution that delivers true and relevant value to current and potential customers.

And it’s worth it. All of it. As long as the content is great.

Content Marketing Is a Huge Asset

Your brand is your biggest asset and great content has the potential to be your greatest marketing asset. Your content is the voice of your business. Content marketing is a brand-building, lead-generating asset engine that pays dividends and rewards people for spending time with your brand.

The investment in content marketing drives revenue and creates residual value. Time-sensitive campaigns have the shelf life of eggs. Content marketing is like uncooked rice. Save it. Repackage it. Repurpose it. Still good? Thought so. It retains its value and flavor. You might need a little salt, though. Many companies don’t know where to start with content marketing. It all begins with a solid blog. Great blog articles lead to better informed internal teams, more robust content pieces, and a multitude of opportunities to become a leading voice in a given industry.

Build Your Asset Library

We know; it’s hard to get internal buy-in for content marketing. Once company leaders understand that content is an asset, not merely an expense on a balance sheet, the ball can start rolling and people can stop worrying. What does your marketing say about your brand? Is it answering questions before they’re asked? Is it targeting the right people with content that builds trust and affinity? Is it opening new avenues for your business?

What if you had too much content? Go forth and take all the valuable information, brilliant thinking, and hardworking people around your product and services and spin it into the leading voice in your industry. Suddenly you’ll have a repository of valuable content to use for blogs and guides and transformative value-driven campaigns. You can give your blog some wheels. Your social campaigns suddenly have ground to walk on. Your sales team can stop talking so much—and start sharing.

These are the kind of problems you’ll have when you treat content marketing like an asset that delivers consumer value and drives company revenue, rather than an expense that sucks internal resources and drains campaign budgets. Content marketing isn’t bound by campaigns. It continues to deliver for your brand long after you create it, as long as you invest in the right resources and commit to its long-term health.

So go show the world your assets. We know you’ve got ‘em.

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