The Overlooked Cost of Marketing Content

Defining Non-Working Spend for the Modern Marketer

Why is it that campaign budgets seem to disappear so quickly? The best campaigns aren’t the ones that are most expensive — they’re the ones that make the most impressions. We often think of marketing budgets as being consumed by campaigns in monolithic blocks. In reality, your expenses can be divided into two types: working and non-working. Learn more about what non-working spend is and how it can affect your budgets.

Working Spend

Working spend is the amount spent on placing media and content in front of an audience. That could refer to how much you pay to promote a social media post, run a television ad during prime-time hours, or place a billboard in a densely populated city.

Non-Working Spend

Non-working spend is the amount departments spend on the production of content, as opposed to its distribution to audiences. A brand’s non-working dollars are a function of several necessary expenses, including agency costs and asset procurement.

Learn More About Non‑Working Spend

of senior marketers say that agency costs are a top driver of non-working spend for their teams

Agency Costs

The creative agencies you use will be natural contributors to non-working spend; and when they have clear direction and a streamlined process for generating great media, your non-working levels are reigned-in. But back-and-forth meetings, lack of oversight, and uncoordinated workflows magnify the number of hours you’re on the hook for while increasing the chances for costly campaign delays. Standardized briefing and streamlined approvals processes can limit unnecessary non-working spend.

Designers can empower your frontline marketers with templates, so they can publish content without delays


A core facet of brand management is being consistently distinctive — customers should be able to recognize your logos, color palette, fonts, and imagery when they see it. But not every image you post on Twitter should take up the time of an expensive designer, whose backlog of heavy-duty work will delay your post’s publication. Limit those non-working costs and while running distinctive campaigns with a lightweight image editor for frontline social marketers.

A digital asset manager can reduce content re-creation and boost efficiency by centralizing content

Asset Procurement

Marketing is a visual enterprise — and visuals cost money. But losing images could mean repetitive photoshoots around the world or paying twice for the same stock visuals. Eliminate that risk with a central digital asset manager that makes sharing image files across business units and regions easy. Save even more by safely collecting and showcasing user-generated content and by equipping marketers to upload real-life images from their smartphones.

Bringing in lawyers at the very beginning of the creative process minimizes non-working spend

Legal Approvals

The combination of rapid international expansion and a fragmented regulatory landscape means attorneys increasingly need to become part of the creative process. But if you try to speed up the creative process by bringing in lawyers at the very end, you maximize non-working spend. Legal reviewers may ask you to recreate or scrap large parts of the planned promotion right before distribution — leading to both costly delays and a repeat of other non-working expenses. Limit the risk of prolonged and problematic reviews by bringing counsel early in the creative process, gathering their guidance and opinions throughout.

of senior marketers think leveraging technology or systems is one of the biggest opportunities for controlling non-working spend


Investing in new technology can accelerate your team’s sundry tasks and actually reduce non-working spend — in the rare case that it isn’t a redundant tool, end-user adoption is high, and the software works with your existing systems. The answer isn’t to choose several point-solutions. Rather, it’s to find one flexible system of record that integrates with the software that your team relies on. And make sure your vendor offers training and onboarding services to ensure a smooth roll-out.

of senior marketers say that employee talent costs are a top driver of non-working spend for their teams


Marketing begins with the marketer, and we’re constantly looking for ways to do more with less. The more productive your employees are during their work day, the more creative content they can prepare and distribute. Make sure your team is doing the right things in the right way by investing in training — so that you don’t need to rely on creative agencies for less strategic assignments — and process assessments to make sure your team is working efficiently toward business results.

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