Content as an Asset, Part 1 of 2.png

Often in content marketing (and marketing in general) we’ll hear various pieces of content referred to as assets. This blog post is a text asset, this photo is an image asset, etc. However, this is a case of Princess Bride-ism: “you keep using that word…”

If we want to call content an asset, we should dig into what that means. Understanding what an asset means in the financial sense might unlock some ways for us to increase the value of our content marketing.

What is an Asset?

From Latin, the literal etymology of asset is “sufficient enough estate to be discharged in a will” – meaning, worth enough to be worth dividing. More contemporarily, Investopedia defines an asset as:

An asset is a resource with economic value that an individual, corporation or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit. Assets are reported on a company’s balance sheet, and they are bought or created to increase the value of a firm or benefit the firm’s operations. An asset can be thought of as something that in the future can generate cash flow, reduce expenses, improve sales, regardless of whether it’s a company’s manufacturing equipment or a patent on a particular technology.

When we think about content marketing, is this what we consider our content?

What Does Our Content Marketing Do?

Take any piece of content we create for marketing purposes. Based on the financial definition above, does that content…

  • Generate cash flow?
  • Reduce expenses?
  • Improve sales?
  • Create value to the company?
  • Benefit the company’s operations?
  • Provide future financial or resource benefit?
  • Show up on our company balance sheet?

Seen through this lens, much of what we call assets are not true, financial assets.

  • How many blog posts are listed on our company balance sheets?
  • How many infographics have a hard dollar estimate tied to them?
  • How much of our content is worth anything?

The logical next question is – is it possible for them to become true assets?

Marketing Attribution Creates Assets

If you’re reading this blog post, you’re a part of my audience. As a part of my audience, perhaps at some future point you’ll buy something – a book, a training course, a keynote – and if this post was part of the customer journey, it will have inferred value.

Thus, the moment this post generates any kind of cashflow or value, it becomes an asset – but indirectly. By itself, saved on my hard drive, it has no intrinsic value. Only once it’s placed in a marketing operations environment (like my blog) can it generate value.

Only with attribution analysis can we determine the value of this post or any piece of content. However, if we do attribution analysis well, then we identify which content, if any, is worth enough to put on a balance sheet, harkening back to the old Latin definition.

No Content Assets? Rethink Marketing!

If we perform great attribution analysis and find that we have no content of value, then we have our marching orders: create content worth something!

  • Create content that enables sales by giving sales professionals something to share with prospects that moves a sale along
  • Create content that reduces operational costs by providing customer or employee self-service online
  • Create content that generates media opportunities, reducing the need or scale of ad budgets (or making those budgets more effective)

Once we’ve created a piece of content worth something – even a penny – we’ve created our first true asset.

In the second part of this post, we’ll look at asset valuation, depreciation, and how to improve the value of a content marketing asset over time.


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