The internet has really confused things. Even marketers. Especially marketers! Back in the day of BAMB (brick-and-mortar business) the only way to get customers to notice you was to advertise.
To “push” yourself towards your audience in various and sundry ways. Print ads, television ads…even those sandwich-board-type signs one sets out on the sidewalk in front of one’s place of business.
All of them are assertive, uninterruptible ways to get on your customer’s radar.
Then comes the Internet, search engines and social media. Everything changes. Up popped many ways to not just push your way into your customer’s heart, but rather to pull them to you.
Subtly, engagingly. Right from platforms they are already visiting on their own volition.
Sure, establishing a website is pretty straightforward. It’s little more than a digital equivalent of a brick and mortar store. You have to get out there, you have to have “a presence.” There are many articles on the best way to optimize your website.
And there are even more articles and tips out there about how to maximize your social media presence. Ways you can be most successful in gaining any kind of media, be it paid, earned or owned.
But it’s a little harder to find help on determining what, exactly, the difference is between paid, earned or owned media! So let’s tackle that now and clarify what’s what and how crucial it is not to confuse the three types.
Type #1: Owned Media
Simple enough…or is it? This is stuff you own and control.
It’s easy to simply equate owned media with your website. And indeed it is! Your website is the cornerstone of all your owned media and the one you must pay the most attention to. (But more on techniques later. Let’s stick with definitions for now.)
Owned media also includes:
- Your blog
- Any whitepapers you may publish and circulate
- Any eBooks
- Your newsletters
- Your Facebook, Twitter, You Tube & Instagram profiles (but profiles only!)
The good news? All of these are 100% under your control. You can completely control their tone, messaging and design.
The bad news? There’s no guarantee any one will see them! That why you might need to spend a little bit of money on…
Type #2: Paid Media
This is the probably the easiest to define. Paid media is just that – the exposure you pay for. This should be part of the mix, of course.
And perhaps even your testing ground? There’s a theory that you shouldn’t even bother with other “earned” campaigns until you have first seen success with a paid campaign.
Here are some examples of paid media:
- Pay per click campaigns
- Banner ads
- Print, television and radio ads
- Direct mail pieces
So what’s left?
Type #3 Earned Media
What’s left is the fun stuff. The social stuff. What’s left is also the potentially dangerous stuff. The Earned Media is what is causing all those blurry marketing lines and misguided strategies. Business owners too often treat earned media as owned media and vice versa.
Here are some common examples of earned media:
- Online reviews
- Social media platforms like: Facebook, Twitter, Vine, LinkedIn, Google Plus
- Online forums and message boards
- Other blogs
- Word of mouth
The Different Strategies
Now that we have clarified what each media type is, let’s talk about how absolutely differently we must treat them. Many a business has bungled their strategy.
They come on too strong and push out the wrong message on the wrong media. Instead of engaging and luring their potential customers…they end up turning them off.
Way off. You must have a firm understanding of what consumers expect from each type of media before you begin to market on each of them.
Think of it as a spectrum. On one end is the All About You marketing. On the far end of that is the All About Them. The trick is to figure out the best place to talk about each ends of the spectrum. And where it is okay to mix them.
Overall, it’s always smart to try to talk about your customer first and you second. Always. Even when you are selling your goods or products, you should lead with what they can do for your customers. Extol their benefits to them, not just their wonderful qualities.
But there are some broad rules of thumb you might want to be aware of when it comes to each media type.
Earned media is as analogous to traditional PR as you’re going to get.
Instead of just courting magazine editors or television reporters, these days you can contact and try to encourage bloggers, online reviewers and even your customers to talk about you. And the best way to do that? By barely talking about you at all!
You don’t pitch a TV reporter this way: “Please talk about my organic car detergent. Tell your viewers how great I am.” You instead say “Wouldn’t your audience like to know if organic car detergent can clean ten times better than traditional detergent?
While being healthier for their lawn, safer for their pets and the environment? I have a very funny, engaging demonstration that will show them how!”
See? About them. Not about you. At least not overtly.
So don’t ask a happy customer to post photos of themselves holding the soap in their hand, label out, smiling at the camera.
Instead ask them to post photos of them washing their car with their kids covered in bubbles and pets nearby, completely unworried about your chemical-free soap soaking into the grass!
Paid media is somewhere in the middle. You can talk a lot more about yourself and overtly pitch your product or service, but …it’s still about them.
Often, as in the case of a banner or radio ad, you are still on ‘their turf’ or on the turf of someone they are visiting for fun. So while you need to let them know what it is you sell, you still need to “sell the sizzle and not the steak.”
Banner ads should not read “10 years in business! Family owned and operated!” Good luck getting anyone to click on that.
Banner ads should instead ask questions like “Is your car streaky from organic “soap” that doesn’t really clean? Try our new organic but powerful Soap X!” Lead with their needs, not your company’s history.
Owned Media is where you get to really crow about you. Not just because you own it and can say whatever you want, but because finally your audience is on your turf.
If you have lead them from earned or paid media over to your owned media, which means they are ready to learn more about you.
So this is where you can let loose and give them all kinds of information about you, your product, how wonderful your it is and how happy everyone is with it.
Again, it’s still good form to angle your home page copy to first talk about your consumer and how you can help them.
But then don’t be afraid to brag in the rest of the site. Just organize it well into the typical “About Us” and “Customer Review” tabs and pages that your audience will be expecting to see!
Confused, still? Or do you have a great handle on things? Do you have a better way of categorizing owned, earned and paid media? How do you differ your strategies on each? Tell me in the comments below.
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