How to create smart content with the master asset

(Originally published at Content Works, 6.29.16)

When plotting what content to create in your content marketing plan, three key factors inevitably arise: resources, timelines and budget.

Now more than ever, the new media normal dictates creators and marketers must produce a variety of content, quickly, and tailored to an ever-evolving array of channels and devices, often without the aid of (ahem) commensurately rising budgets.

That’s why content folks should consider the ‘master asset’ approach if they aren’t already, to efficiently produce content for their companies and clients.

I’m calling it the master asset, but I’m sure I didn’t invent it; film and television producers have employed the master asset to some degree or another for years, along with strategically-minded digital content vets. Jay Baer, author and President at social media and marketing firm Convince and Convert, advocates a similar approach to strategic content creation that he’s coined content ‘atomization’.

So what is the master asset?

It’s your central piece of content that acts as a template for a variety of other content types and formats for your campaign.

Content Works recently employed the master asset approach for a project that required a quick turnaround on a variety of content with a relatively modest budget, and limited staff. (Sound familiar?)

Video: The ideal master asset

We approached this challenge by starting with a series of video interviews as our master asset. With video, we had a script from which we could draw source material for our other client content deliverables, including related articles and infographics. We also captured stills (photos) from the shoot to include in the articles, and to parcel out as promotional assets on our client’s website and social media properties.

We took an evergreen approach to video production by limiting references to any particular place or time frame in our script and post-edits, and, as a result, extended the lifetime value of our master asset and the various content iterations resulting from it.

The value of the many-hatted content producer

To stay within our production’s budget and timelines we sourced a single content producer skilled in photography, basic videography and writing. We’re lucky to have a few of these folks here at Content Works. If that’s not the case in your shop, sourcing such multi-talented content creators may be easier than you think through online freelancer services, such as Upfront .

If a single content creator isn’t going to cut it on more complex productions you can source a small team of multi-skilled content creators rather than bucketing your content requirements within siloes. You’ll save time and money, and help ensure that you effectively communicate your core message across all of your related content assets.

Right content, right place, right time

The master asset approach also helps to streamline your deployment and amplification strategy. A variety of content allows you to target multiple audiences through specific media platforms and channels – photos for Instagram, short videos on Snapchat, thought leadership articles on LinkedIn, or all of the above bundled as feature content pieces on your core platform.


The master asset approach takes more time and planning upfront time, and doesn’t make sense for every project or business. However, it should at least provide pause for thought when considering the best approach to creating strategic, time sensitive and budget-conscious content.

Dave Carpenter is was a Content Strategist for Content Works.


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