Content Assets. Kind Of A Big Deal. Literally. Really.

March 28, 2019

Good storytelling is powerful stuff. It’s just not always requested, or even prescribed, by name.

Not long ago in this space, we talked about what content can do and why it works – especially in terms of the problems it can solve and the traction it can generate. Quite often, we can perceive content as the answer by its conspicuous absence. It gets called in because something is missing. It gets the nod when we want to deliver a message, reach an audience or drive growth. Good storytelling is powerful stuff. It’s just not always requested, or even prescribed, by name.

Day by day, we make loose and casual references to content assets. If you listen, you can hear the phrases everywhere and, if it pleases the court, I will freely admit now to using them myself. It happens when we gather and sort material for a quarterly business review. It happens when we hold whiteboarding sessions to plan content campaigns. It happens as we leave placeholders and little notes all over the place. Content TBD. Content Proposal Pending. Add Content Here.

Filling In Blanks

Lately it has me wondering, hopefully without sounding too much like a grumpy stickler, if we’re taking part in some unintentional acts of disservice. Should we (or shouldn’t we!) value content assets a bit more literally? There are talented people who fill in those TBD blanks, after all. Here at ForwardPMX, it’s an orchestration among specialists, analysts and experts in the worlds of SEO, social media, editorial, marketing, research, technology and brand strategy, to name but a portion of the crew.

And then of course, the assets themselves are centrally important. Content assets, with apologies to Ron Burgundy, really are kind of a big deal. Let’s take time to dissect the phrase “content assets.” Where can we find similar language and advice? The realm of personal investing comes to mind. Any decent financial planner or adviser can recite the concept – you need to make informed, consistent investments in assets that will yield value and returns over time. Monitor your results, but don’t be tempted by data in tiny chunks, as you’ll miss the bigger patterns.

I believe those references hold up, by and large, for content assets. One of the talented people mentioned above, my collaborator and friend Sara Pollack, summarized it nicely in our last catch-up talk. “Content efforts can appear deceptively easy for brands who get it right,” she said. Her observation is spot-on. When we benchmark narrative-strategy champs like Patagonia and REI, we should also admire their dedication to their content portfolios. They started investing years ago, and the assets have delivered growth over time, with whole-ecosystem momentum.

Generations United

Sara also pointed out a recent Adweek feature and infographic, “What Consumers Really Want From Brands’ Content,” which presented emerging research from WP Engine and The Center for Generational Kinetics. She and I agreed, we’ve come to expect details on sharp generational differences from these kinds of studies. But in this case, the spotlight fell on areas of respondent consensus, spanning Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers:

“Considering that 82 percent of Gen Z’ers and 77 percent of Millennials are more likely to purchase from a company that provides consistent, relevant content, clearly, brands should be making sure their content shines. But it’s essential to make it informative and authentic rather than overly aspirational or perfect.”

The findings also revealed similar majority preferences toward being informed, more so than entertained, by brand content.

Those takeaways point back to enduring ideas and purposeful frameworks for storytelling. Quality and authenticity are differentiators (they always have been and always will be, IMHO). And a fundamental commitment to the customer is good business, no matter the business (it’s certainly a principle we embrace across the agency, through our integrated Customer First approach). In traveling a path of service and trust – providing the sort of consistent, relevant content everyone wants – strategic narratives tend to earn their keep.

Investments In Service

It is appropriate and realistic to view content assets as stock in trade. Framed and understood in that context, content is a smart investment. An informative article, a beautiful photograph, an irresistible social post or a must-hit-replay video are excellent vehicles to inform, engage and inspire. We know the distribution channels and production methods will inevitably change and evolve, but the opportunity is constant. Know your audience, serve them well, make them happy.

While reviewing a just-submitted client proposal, I was reminded once again – that same notion stands at the heart of most search-engine optimization recommendations. It’s not a coincidence. But it is a sound decision to start investing in content today, if you want to reach your business goals tomorrow, and next year, and five years down the road. So please stay tuned. It is our intention to Add Content Here.

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