Count Your Marketing Assets in 2014

When you count something, you give it value. If you have a collection of old baseball cards that you swap with friends, by tracking them you remind yourself that they are valuable to you. If you are an art collector with important pieces, you always know what you own and what its estimated value is at all times. That way you can insure and protect it. A manufacturing company keeps track of the machines they own. They keep track of the value of their building. They know how much physical inventory is on hand by the end of each month.

But what about marketing assets? Where are they on your balance sheet?

Marketing assets are equally important. They change in value and they need to be counted, measured and valued regularly. Here are a few to consider:

Your Brand’s Reputation: What is the perception of your brand among the community of key thought leaders, influencers and people who amplify your message? How do you assess how they see you and compare you to your competition? Try a traffic light approach where you rank each influencer as red, yellow or green. The goal is to have a greener chart by year end. Yes, it is subjective but if you establish a few simple rules about how you move someone from one stage to the next, you'll see progress. You might also include a weighting for those influencers who have a bigger and more influential audience. 

Mailing Lists: This is an invaluable asset that allows you to directly reach fans of your product or service. When this list is bigger, more productive and responsive, its value increases. Do you track this today? People who give you permission to communicate with them want something of value. Is your list increasingly effective at being read, opened and responded to? Consider tracking a few metrics like open rates and click-through rates to determine if over the year, the list is growing or declining in responsiveness. 

Data on purchasing: Knowing what people buy from you is a huge asset that becomes more valuable as it gets richer.  The value of Amazon’s warehouse is tiny compared to the asset of what customers have purchased in the past that helps predict future purchases. Data and the analytics of that data is another marketing asset that is rarely tracked and measured. Can you work with your IT department and mine what you currently know and see if you can find some purchasing trends or relationships. Then create at least a few hypothesis to test to see if you can make the list more valuable during the year. 

Customer Trust:  I can spend millions of dollars on advertising my message but it doesn’t buy me trust.  Whole Foods has earned my trust by allowing me to buy and try things – and to return them without an argument or even a challenge. They have earned my trust and in turn, my loyalty to them. I am happy to spend my money in their store and the trust they have earned is an asset that may be hard to quantify but is much more valuable than their real estate or store fixtures. Time Warner has annoyed me and I put up with them but they don't have my trust. They don't seem to care about me. Target, even with this enormous breach of security during the holidays, has shown genuine and authentic empathy. They care. I'm disappointed with what happened but they have a storage of goodwill and my trust, although it is shaken, hasn't gone away. At least not yet. 

Do your customer's trust you and how do you measure it? A great metric might go beyond repeat purchases and may need to be tailored to your industry. Think about what brands you trust and why - it might help you create a yardstick for gauging progress with your clients. 

A Blog Filled with Engagement:  If you are fortunate to build a blog where members of your audience like to engage, to share ideas and to connect, what is that asset worth? Is it worth an investment to grow it, to expand it and to make it sticker? If it distinguishes you from your competitors who only push their wares while you get the conversation started, which has more value? Blogs can be measured by page views, unique visitors and repeat visitors along with other metrics that Google Analytics can track. Are you putting a value on this asset each month, each quarter or once a year?

Audiences: The audience you attract and engage with is like a pool of opportunity. You don't own an audience but your rent their attention and want them to get them to the deep end of the water. This is an asset not appreciated by most companies but will continue to grow in importance as social media matures and companies learned to respect and to nourish those interested in being part of your community.

Action Item for 2014:  

Sit down with your accountant, a bookkeeper, folks from finance or some other resource who is used to counting stuff for your business. Ask them to help you create a marketing balance sheet that you can track at least once a year that shows how successful your efforts are at increasing the value of your marketing assets in the coming year. Don't try and capture everything but take a few assets and see if you can find a way to measure change over time. Start counting. 

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