Guest Post

Building a Marketing Asset (take the red pill)

by Joe Pulizzi

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.

It seems so subjective and, therefore, so risky. What if you put it out there, and nobody responds? To say that it takes nerve to put yourself out there, to stake your claim of your industry is most definitely an understatement. But will you let that stop you? You're faced with an option: define your assets or let the marketplace define them for you. In which case, if what you hoped might be an asset ends up being a liability, you've nobody to blame but yourself.

Let's imagine (in the voice of 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.

Does it feel vulnerable? Yes. Is it smart and empowering? Yes.

It sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

So why doesn't everyone do it? Because 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. Doing what's right often isn't. It takes nerve.

All I'm offering is the truth. Take the red pill.

Joe Pulizzi is founder of content vendor-matching site Junta42 ( and co-author of Get Content Get Customers ( You can find him blogging at or on Twitter @juntajoe.

  1. Joe, you hit the nail square dab on the head with this post. Thanks for reaffirming that marketing to the reader, consumer isn’t always about persuasion but educating, building a community. I’ve built and marketed Qlix magazine and on the notion that we are not providing the reader good content if 1. they are not appreciated and acknowledged, and 2. if it is not relevant or something they can geniunely take away and use for their professional growth. Kudos Joe for bringing to light in your post, what has been kept in the dark.

    Comment by tenisha — 12/15/2009 @ 3:02 PM

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