Paid, Owned, or Earned Media: What Do You Need?

By February 8, 2017 May 1st, 2020 No Comments

As a small business owner, you make daily decisions. You have the business of pushing your store forward, how to drive customers to your store, product and service offerings, pricing, managing your employees, and much more.

In the area of marketing, small- and medium-sized businesses are overwhelmed by choice.

The speed at which marketing has evolved in the last decade has only made choices more difficult. Managing a digital presence has become another, quickly-changing arena of choice. Think of some of the marketing decisions that a modern small business manager has to consider:

  • What’s the best hosting service for my website?
  • What if someone hacks my website?
  • Are these hosting services actually secure?
  • What does mobile marketing actually mean?
  • How do I do text message marketing without getting in trouble?
  • What is Google Analytics and do I need to pay attention to it?
  • If I advertise with Google, does that put me on Google Maps?
  • Ok, wait, how do I get on Google Maps?
  • I know I need a Facebook page, but I’m worried about being able to respond to every customer within minutes… is that what everyone expects today?

In midsize companies, there are full-time jobs dedicated to addressing each of the above questions. It’s no wonder a smaller business can feel overwhelmed.

As is often the case, when you become overwhelmed by marketing choice, breaking it down can help you begin to make sense of it all.

Let’s look at the three types of media that exist for consideration: paid media, owned media, and earned media.

Paid Media

Paid media is publicity gained through paid advertising. When you think of marketing, this is usually the first type of media that comes to mind.

It comes with mixed reactions: the chance to get your brand on TV! But at high costs, with unsure results.

Paid media includes radio, tv, billboards, paid search results, email list purchase, social media ad buys, etc.

The advantages, of course, are an already-built, readily-available audience that can be scaled to different and larger markets.

The price is… well, for one thing, a high price. The cost of these advertising tactics is high, especially when you factor in the “noise” and clutter. Response rates are declining as more and more businesses have the ability to enter the advertising game. And for all that cost, it’s difficult to attribute sales to the ad channel.

Owned Media

Owned media is marketing that your business directly creates, controls, and distributes.

The options here are seemingly endless. In-store visuals, your website, social media, brochures, an email list that you build, etc.

There’s a lot to be said for owned media. First and foremost, you control it. Every aspect from the content of the message to the timing is yours, with no added middlemen. It’s very cost-efficient, and it carries the ability to stimulate interaction on your own defined schedule.

Of course, owned media takes time to build. It’s an organic process, and if you’re spending too much time building up your presence, you may fall short in other areas of your business that need your attention. It can be trackable, but that too can take time.

Earned Media

Earned media is publicity typically gained through customer-based testimonials, reviews or some external conversation about your store.

Popular examples of earned media are word-of-mouth marketing from a customer on Facebook, a review on Amazon, or commentary on a public review site (e.g., Google, yelp, etc). It also includes press covering and other PR opportunities.

It also includes press covering and other PR opportunities.

Earned media is seen by customers as the most credible. People trust people, especially people they know. Once it’s earned, it has a tendency to stick (either online or in the mind of a new customer).

The biggest disadvantage is that you have zero control. The most control you can muster is investing some money in PR and hoping it gets picked up in the way you want it to. In addition, testimonials, reviews, and press aren’t always positive (and that sticks, too). And of course, it’s very difficult to track earned media’s effect on sales.

Where SMS Marketing Fits

Text message marketing falls into the owned media category, but it exhibits some key advantages that other owned media typically lacks.

First, text message marketing gives a direct connection from the call-to-action (your incentive to join) to the sales. The customer simply presents their phone with your text message. This can be easily paired with a discount/tracking code and the businesses sales tracking system (whether cash register or invoicing). It’s easy to see and track the results, which is what every business owner is looking for.

Second, it is the most time-specific method of promotion. Text messages can be sent (and scheduled ahead of time) at a precise time of day, even to the minute. And, because 98% messages are read within 3 minutes of being received, you can be sure that customers will read your message when you want them to see your message. It’s important to pay attention to when the message is being sent.

Third, text messaging is only going to grow. Unlike other broadcast options, such as radio, there is an increasing overall audience. Radio and TV as advertising mediums are shrinking. They’re losing the pre-built audience that once made them so attractive – in the 20th century.

It’s not a real mystery that “everyone has a mobile phone”. That really isn’t too much of an exaggeration – there are 286,000,000 people in the US that have a mobile phone. That customer market is mobile and it’s local. Text message marketing is obviously mobile, but it works best on a local level.

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