Using various media sources is a key way for small-to-medium-sized businesses to market their companies. There are three main types of media that marketing experts focus on, including: paid, earned, and owned media outlets. SMBs tend to focus a lot of their energies on paid and earned media; however, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “the new battleground is going to be owned media.” Noting this, the article states that businesses that are focusing on getting ahead and staying ahead of their competitors need to reconsider their current strategies for their owned media.

In this post, we will discuss how your business can use your owned media outlets to build your company.

What are paid, earned, and owned media?

Before we focus on changing and improving your owned media strategy, we should probably go over what, exactly, paid, earned, and owned media are. It’s always good to know a little background on what you are learning about, right? We will discuss the differences between these three main media options below.

Paid Media

In this approach, companies pay—in the form of advertisements and sponsorships—to reach their target audience. According to Hubspot, this “serves as a method for promoting content and driving exposure.” Some common examples of paid online marketing techniques include: pay-per-click ads, paid content promotion, and social media ad campaigns. More traditional paid media campaigns include billboards and placing ads on the radio, TV, or in magazines.

Although paid media can be a valuable part of a company’s marketing strategy, this option does have many drawbacks—the main one being that your company is required to comply with specific guidelines and limitations that you will not encounter when focusing on your owned media.

Earned Media

This technique involves companies earning coverage from industry influencers and reporters by word-of-mouth. Examples of earned media include reviews of your products or services, mentions in the press, endorsements, recommendations, and reposts of your content.

Earned media does give your company some control since you can influence it by focusing on SEO, killer content, and promotion of your brand—but, when push comes to shove, it is up to the influencers in your field to decide whether or not to endorse you, how they endorse you, and when they endorse you.

Owned Media

And now for the focus of our post: owned media.

Owned media is any form of media that your company directly controls. These media outlets can include your company blog, website, social media channels, and publications (including e-books, infographics, and guides).

Since you have complete control over your media, it can be an extremely valuable tool for your business marketing. This form of media is especially important when targeting leads that have already found you brand, because, “at the end of the day, this content can help leads determine whether or not working with you is the right choice for them.”

Improving your owned media marketing strategy

Now that you know the importance owned media for your business, you are probably wondering what you can do to improve your current owned media strategy. The good news is since you OWN this media you are 100% in charge and have total power to rethink your strategy.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Mark Boncheck suggests focusing on three main areas when revising your owned media approach: content, community, and context.

1. Content

The first area to analyze when evaluating your owned media strategy is your content channels that are delivering information about your brand directly to your customers.

When it comes to owned media, content is king, since it is the only channel through which you can reach out to leads to convert them. This content can be your blog, website, social media channels, e-books, or other forms of content that you use to educate your target audience about your company.

2. Community

Another important aspect of owning your media is building a sense of community among your audience. This could mean hosting webinars, setting up discussion forums, or creating social networking groups for customers through your social media channels.

Before launching community building initiatives, it is important that you understand the buyer personas of the audience you are targeting.

3. Context

Now that you have your company’s content and community building strategies in place, it is time to focus on context. Context takes client interactions and looks at the data behind them to discover the best ways to provide value to your customers. In order to figure out what you target audience needs from you, you may want to consider utilizing analytical tools like Google Analytics. You may also want to consider using surveys and feedback forms to gather this information.

Although paid and earned media have their place in many marketing strategies, owned media is an invaluable resource that allows you, and only you, to control your company’s media image. Have you invested in your company’s future by OWNING your media? We’d love to hear about what methods have worked for you!

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