The Cost of a Content Marketing Engine for Your PE Firm

Building a content engine will cost money up front and realize value for you over the course of 5+ years.

If you’re considering investing in content marketing with Jack Vawdrey LLC, you’re probably curious to know how we will use your investment to create value for your company.

Further in this article, I will break down specifically what you will receive for your investment. But first, to help you better understand how your investment will benefit your business, it’s important to recognize that content is not the product.

Why Content Is Not the Product

Like when a factory purchases machinery, that machinery is not the product—it creates the product. Similarly, your investment in content marketing is not paying for content, but rather engagement with your audience.

The beauty of investing in content is that content can have a long shelf life. An investment of a few thousands dollars today in a great piece of content can produce engagement for 5-10 years. The occasional tune-up can make that content last even longer. 

How much engagement should you expect from content? Our goal for each client is roughly 850-1000 minutes of engagement with prospects in their database per month.

How do we create those minutes of engagement? At Jack Vawdrey LLC, our focus is on building you a content engine. A content engine is the combination of content assets, promotional channels, and marketing automation systems that produce value for you on an ongoing basis. Like with a flywheel, each new asset you add to the engine just adds more surface area for your prospects to land on and engage with your company.

What does that content engine look like exactly? The next sections contain a breakdown of what deliverables we will provide from month to month.

Service #1: Content Creation

Content creation is about generating an asset that communicates an important message and thereby differentiates your firm. The message need not be unique to your firm, though it often is. The key is that you position yourself as the most experienced, transparent, and helpful firm.

What are the specific deliverables for the content creation service?

Each month, we will provide the following:

  • 4 published articles/month, each with:
  • 3 unique social media posts (written copy)
  • 1 unique social media creative (image)
  • 1 email template for biz dev
  • All related metadata for social media and organic search

The content could take the form of:

  • An article that talks through a value add strategy you employ
  • A testimonial article based on an interview with a portfolio company
  • A market update about a key industry you serve

To create each of those articles, we will:

  1. Interview a subject matter expert within your firm to gather information. This interview takes no more than 30 minutes/article.
  2. Create a draft of an article from that conversation.
  3. Push the article through an internal review process amongst our team.
  4. Share the article with a member or members of your team for their review.
  5. Publish the article on your site.

Service #2: Content Promotion

Promoting your content is like turning on the engine. If you don’t promote your content, then it’s a wasted asset.

The main channels we use to promote content are:

  • LinkedIn organic social
  • LinkedIn paid social
  • Marketing newsletters
  • Biz dev email

When building out content promotion, we have three sub-strategies in mind:

  1. Drive paid channels to earned/owned channels to reduce cost per engagement over time.
  2. Apply account-based marketing and target your database of contacts directly.
  3. Automatically rotate through your assets over time so they generate engagement for years to come.

Special note about LinkedIn paid social

Note that LinkedIn paid social is a key channel for promoting content, as you can promote your content directly to your desired audience at scale without the need for prior opt-in. But of course, paid social costs money on top of agency retainer fees. The last section of this article will give you an estimate of how much you should budget for LinkedIn advertising.

What are the specific deliverables for the content promotion service?

Each month, we will:

  • Schedule 12 social posts (1 post per year for each article for 3 years). After a social post appears, it lands in a queue and will reappear 3 years later and so on.
  • Run a paid social campaign for the current week’s newly published content.
  • Send a curated newsletter of some of your newest and best content to opted-in subscribers
  • Send a top-performing piece of content to newsletter subscribers, customized based on performance

For each asset we create, we will also create a biz dev email template that your team can use to share the content with prospects in between catch-up calls.

Service #3: Marketing & Pipeline Intelligence

When a prospect lands on your site and engages with content, what happens next? While an individual engagement is good, the ultimate goal of content marketing (or any marketing for a PE firm) is to complement biz dev and make prospects more interested in having a conversation with you. To accomplish that goal, we need to be able to understand:

  1. Who is looking at your content
  2. What prospects tend to look at before they agree to a conversation

By implementing some custom code that integrates with your CRM, we can answer both these questions.

What are the specific deliverables for the marketing & pipeline intelligence service?

In the first 3-4 months of working with you, we will set up the following:

  • A tracking link generator for email, which converts all links in outbound emails into “tracking links” that, when clicked through, indicate which prospect is visiting your site. 
  • Touchpoint tracking, which integrates with your CRM and keeps track of which content offers a prospect engages with over their lifetime.
  • Touchpoint attribution, which is a dashboard showing which offers prospects tend to engage with before having a conversation with you.
  • Prospect visit notifications, which alert the prospect’s owner when a prospect is visiting the site, including which resource the prospect is viewing.
  • Newsletter subscription reports, which notify the prospect’s owner when a prospect signs up for the marketing newsletter.
  • Weekly social engagement reports, which notify the prospect’s owner when a prospect engages with our content on social media.

These various deliverables effectively close the loop on the content engagement cycle by keeping you informed about who is engaging with what.

How much will all this cost?

The above content engine represents a coordinated strategy of tactics that work together to produce engagement with your audience. Below is what we charge to implement this set of tactics:


Month 1: Implementation

Implementation fee: $5,970

Months 2+: Ongoing Marketing

Agency retainer: $14,970/month

Advertising budget: $6,000/month*

Total monthly: $20,970

*Assumes an audience size of 10K at a $150 CPM impressions


To place the above costs in context, we measure the success of a content program based on how much you pay for a minute of a prospect’s attention.

To better understand how those costs play out, consider the below scenario:

  1. You have 10,000 prospects you want to market to
  2. The 4 assets you create each month have a lifespan of 6 years and each are shared once per year
  3. 1% of prospects you advertise to each month view each piece of content (100 of the 10,000)
  4. The average time a prospect spends on an article is 1 minute

Under these conditions, the average cost for a minute of a prospect’s time is:

(14,970 retainer + (6,000 advertising * 6 years)) / (100 engaged prospects * 1 minute engagement * 4 assets * 6 years)

= ~$21 for a minute of a prospect’s attention

The above estimates are conservative, considering that the right piece of content would:

  1. Last more than 6 years
  2. Attract more than 1% of your audience to click through
  3. Engage prospects for more than just 1 minute on average

Even a small improvement in performance (1.25% CTR and 1.5 minutes per engagement, both of which are very attainable) would put your cost per minute of engagement at ~$11/minute of engagement.

So now the only question is: would you spend $10-20 for a minute of a prospect’s attention? For the right prospect, absolutely. 

Of course, there are dependencies in these calculations (such as the size and quality of your audience, your industry, etc.) that will affect your firm’s marketing outcomes. But regardless of these nuances, so long as you can create the right content for the right audience, you’re in good shape.

Start Building Your Content Engine

Building a content engine now will benefit you for years to come. Like with a flywheel, the sooner you start pushing, the better. 

To help you understand more about what it takes to get started, connect with me on LinkedIn and we’ll set up a call.

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