July 26, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Content marketing, and marketing in general, can be expensive and time-consuming. Especially if you go into either without a plan or strategy. Marketing teams who want to make sure their budget and efforts go the extra mile often use lower-cost alternatives to produce content for audiences. Content acquisition is one low-cost alternative, but how exactly does it work? And how can it help your company? In this guide, we’re exploring these questions and related topics like:
Content acquisition is the practice of purchasing external content to distribute to your audiences. You can see content acquisition most often in entertainment, such as streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus. It’s also a common practice in the music industry, where an artist or record company sells its publishing catalog. Essentially, content acquisition applies to most any consumable media. You’re not limited to television shows, movies, and music.
Companies could also acquire newspaper repositories or ancestral records, like Newspapers.com or Ancestry.com. Publishers like The New York Times or The Huffington Post may acquire blogs or a collection of written works to distribute under their own brand. In content marketing, this process involves buying the rights to content channels or obtaining the content itself to distribute under your own brand name.
Let’s say an automotive parts manufacturing company wants to get involved in content marketing but doesn’t have the team or the staff to make that happen. Maybe the company’s marketing team doesn’t even know if they plan to use content marketing for the long term. What are their options?
Hiring an internal team, freelancers, or working with a content marketing agency are typically three of the top ways to get into content marketing for any brand. But what if those ideas, and the extended time and effort that goes into finding them or working with them, aren’t appealing to a specific business?
Let’s say in their spare time, members of that same marketing team follow a blog themed around automotive topics. The writer has an appealing voice, knows their stuff, and provides helpful information for the right audience. But they’re a one-person team and don’t have as much notoriety as they could if they partnered with a bigger named brand, like the automotive parts manufacturing company. A brand representative could try to invite the blogger to come work for the company as an internal content writer. Or, the brand could acquire their blog and have them publish the content they already produce under the brand name.
Yes, content acquisition is perfectly legal if you follow the rules. This means meeting formally with representatives of the other content company and creating a legally binding contract or agreement to share their content through your channels. It also includes a bill of sale, proving you’re paying for another brand’s content, not stealing it, or hiring their team to work under your brand name. The entire point behind acquisition is getting permission to share someone else’s content on your channels, with your audience, under your brand name. Content acquisition isn’t plagiarism or copyright infringement, where you don’t have legal permission from the creator or original owner to share their work with others.
Image via Unsplash by @rockstaar_
Each instance of content acquisition can differ based on the specifics of who you want to partner with and the type of content you want to acquire. But there are likely some similarities across all content acquisition plans.
First, you approach a blogger, company, or publisher with a proposal. The specifics of the proposal differ for each partnership. You may want to buy out their complete catalog of work, or perhaps buy just the rights to distribute their podcasts and not their written work. Another option may be to lase distribution for one of their platforms for a certain amount of time.
After you present the proposal, the other party takes time to look it over and see what they get from the deal. They may consult a legal team and could come back with a counteroffer. If so, your company then has time to look the counteroffer over with help from your legal team. You can either accept or continue to negotiate.
When you reach an agreement that satisfies both parties, your legal teams draw up the correct paperwork outlining the terms of the acquisition. Once you’ve paid for the rights to own someone else’s content, you can distribute it under your brand name.
Companies that use content acquisition take a buy-versus-build approach to content marketing. With this approach, rather than building your content repositories on your own, with a team, or with an agency partnership, you buy work others already created. But why would brands take that approach? Some reasons include:
Online visibility is important for building brand awareness. Most companies focus on conversions and sales as their primary goals. But if people don’t know your company exists, you’re never going to make it to those points. The only way to grow your company is to help people find your brand. That’s the first step in any marketing plan or strategy.
The more acquisitions and partnerships you make, the more your name circulates within the industry. And that circulation happens not just with other businesses, but with their audiences, too. Acquisitions sometimes become news topics, and they can often inspire new marketing campaigns, leading to increased visibility.
When you acquire external content, you’ll also acquire established audiences. And when these audiences are in your niche or related to your industry, they fit within your brand’s target audience, too. It’s like working with influencers or engaging in practices like guest posting. By associating your company name with established publications, you’re showing that audience that your brand is helpful and relevant to them, further expanding your market reach.
Grabbing the attention of an established audience helps you tap into your content marketing efforts even faster. In contrast, Semrush reports SEO can take a while to see results. This happens because bots and crawlers from search engines have to find your content and index it. This process could take up to a week to happen. Once the content is searchable, your audience has to find it and read it. Enough of them have to interact with your pieces to tell the search engines they’re valuable and move your content higher in search engine rankings. There’s no time frame on how long that could take based on the content and keywords, but it’s not quick.
This is a lengthy process. If your brand invests in content marketing, it’s worth the wait because you’re building a foundation and reputation for your brand. But if you’re not in content creation for the long haul and want to see results immediately, then content acquisition is the way to go.
Content valuation is the process of categorizing every piece of content in your library or catalog as a financial asset. Valuating content acquisitions as assets allows you to use each piece individually to market your company and increase your ROI. Many companies view acquisitions this way, especially companies like HBO that deal with video content. Think about a streaming service looking to offer new movies and shows for people to watch. Many, like Netflix, create their own content, but a gigantic bulk of what those companies offer still comes from acquiring rights to others’ content.
When HBO Max acquired the exclusive rights to stream the TV show Friends, the company viewed that deal as a financial asset. If people wanted to stream Friends, they had to get an HBO Max subscription. Many people like that show, so many people signed up for the service to watch. A portion of them stayed and kept their subscriptions because they also liked other programming the service offered. HBO’s acquisition of Friends is a prime example of the potential to increase audience reach and revenue.
Another reason companies use content acquisition is to gain additional relevant content to share with audiences based on their wants, needs, and interests. This tactic helps secure qualified leads for the brand. Those leads are the people most likely to partner with or purchase something from your company. They’re the ones who are going to get you the growth, conversions, and revenue you want.
For example, your content team could write a really brilliant piece about the movie Top Gun: Maverick. Maybe it shows in Google News or gets a lot of shares on social media. But if your company sells ceiling fans, and none of the people reading the article want to buy ceiling fans, that piece of content and the notoriety you’re getting from it are a waste. But when you acquire content, especially pieces that are already top-performing in their niches, all the engagement you get back from them is relevant.
Content acquisition can be expensive. Anytime you discuss budget or finances, every decision you make is relative to your industry, business size, income, and goals. The more money your business makes, and the more revenue you can bring in, the less expensive new marking strategies like content acquisition may seem. It’s simple. When you make more money, you have more to spend.
The type of content you want to acquire, the author, the original publisher, and other elements factor into how expensive a specific content acquisition may be. If it’s something you want to do, especially if your budget is smaller, you may have to shop around. This can help you find the right content for your audience, the right partnership, and something that fits within your budget.
Related: A Guide to Acquisition Cost
Working with a content creation partner is not the same thing as content acquisition. The word acquire means to buy or get something. It’s understandable, then, why some people think that paying for content services is the same thing as content acquisition. But content agencies and freelancers act like extensions of your internal content team. They work for you to develop content with your goals and vision in mind. When you acquire content, you buy pieces created by someone else, for someone else, with their own purposes in mind. You don’t get content that directly promotes your brand, products, or services. Rather, you get industry or niche-based content to supplement your own marketing.
Any business can use content acquisition if the material it wants to buy and distribute supports overall goals. It’s not exclusive to big brands like Amazon or Hulu. But what’s more important is figuring out how to use your own marketing budget and resources wisely. Is content acquisition a better investment for your brand than hiring an internal content team, working with freelancers, or partnering with a content marketing agency?
For most small businesses, the answer to that last question is “no.” It may not be the case for everyone, but small businesses often have smaller budgets. It’s not a bad thing or a hindrance to have a smaller budget and being in that situation doesn’t mean you can’t compete in your industry or market. But it might mean content acquisition isn’t the right strategy for you. Instead, creating your own content with a team or partnering with an agency is a more suitable approach to small-business marketing.
Essentially, creating your own content allows you to scale production based on specific budget constraints and needs. While content acquisition is appealing, it doesn’t work for every business. By creating and curating your own content, you’re also making sure you’re dialing into exactly what your target audience wants to see. Grabbing their attention may include localizing your content for specific events or making sure you’re talking about timely things that matter.
When you do your content creation and curation well, bigger companies are more likely to pick up your blogs, eBooks, articles, and other content on their radar. In the future, they may approach your brand to ask if they can acquire your content because it’s so great. An opportunity like that allows you to see content acquisition from the seller’s side rather than as the company acquiring content.
CopyPress is the perfect go-between for those who aren’t ready to jump into content acquisition yet, but want help outside of an internal team to develop their pieces. Our content marketing agency works as an extension of your business. We’re here to work for you. Whatever you want, whatever you need, satisfaction is guaranteed. In addition to providing a variety of content services across industries, we also help you with marketing strategy, scaling production, and developing a brand style guide to get your tone and voice just right in every piece.
Ready to see how CopyPress works for you? Get your preview of our services right away by requesting your free content analysis report. This document shows new topics and content areas to cover to make your pieces appealing to all segments of your audience and stay in the fight for new business.
“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”
Director of SEO at Auto Revo
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