Marketing is the lifeline of your business and you need a dynamic marketing program for your business to grow. As a business advisor, the constant complaint I get from clients is that they just can’t afford the marketing they need.
To help your marketing be more effective and get a higher return on investment, I’d like you to remember Edgar Allan Poe with my little parody of The Raven:
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over so many ways to help my business grow.
Marketing ideas I was creating, but my budget’s so berating,
Media exposures are begetting expenses as my constant foe.
Finding ways to spread my story with finances low
Big ideas, so little money, then I discovered POE.”
Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite authors, but POE is also an acronym for the 3 categories of media marketing. Though a common practice in large enterprises, POE is often overlooked by smaller businesses. The term media marketing is most often thought of in the context of mass media but, in reality, media marketing is simply communicating your story, whether to a mass market or to one individual. Recognizing and understanding the many forms of media and utilizing each category of POE will increase the overall effectiveness of your marketing.
• Paid media marketing. OK, this one is obvious; it’s when you pay third party marketing companies to get your message out through media such as print, TV, radio, and online advertising. No other type of media can guarantee the immediacy and scale of paid media. Paid media is usually what we think of as mass media marketing but it also includes trade shows, sponsorships, organization memberships, and sales expenses. The pros of paid marketing is that you have control of the content and the target audience. You can start and stop it when you wish. The cons are the high expenses and the fact that advertising is not as effective as it was once was. You are paying for everything, and smaller companies with tight budgets find it difficult to get effective results for the costs incurred.
• Owned media marketing is when you leverage a channel you create and control. From a digital standpoint, this is your company website, email announcements or newsletters, LinkedIn, blog, twitter, YouTube channel, and your Facebook page. Each allows you to project your brand and personality as you chose and when you chose.
Don’t overlook the importance of emails. Though thought of as “old tech” by many, a surprising new survey by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company states that email is nearly 40 times more of an effective way to acquire customers than all that tweeting and posting and “liking” you’re doing on social media Facebook and Twitter combined.
But owned media marketing is not just in the digital world, it can also be your hard assets such as your bricks and mortar facility, your delivery trucks as well as your employees’ uniforms, as each of these helps create an image and brand that promotes your business. A simple example of owned media is my local tree service company who has their phone number in 3 foot numbers on the sides of their large trucks. Their trucks are now mobile billboards that can be seen from 100 feet away. They enjoyed more than a 100% increase in calls after they did this.
• Earned media marketing has been around forever. It’s an old PR term that essentially means getting your brand message noticed for free rather than having to pay for it through advertising. Public relations (PR) and word-of-mouth are examples of earned media marketing. With Earned, the press and the public share your content, speak about your brand via social media or word-of-mouth, and otherwise discuss your brand. In other words, the mentions are “earned,” meaning they are voluntarily given by others, such as testimonials.
There’s an old adage in marketing: “When we say something about ourselves, people tend to disbelieve it but when others say something about us, people tend to believe it.” Positive earned media is a result of brand behavior. Many consumers don’t trust advertising, but they do trust peer recommendations. This is why earned media is so important to your success. One positive testimonial can have more value than an expensive advertisement.
When you have done something so well or interesting that people want to use their own media to tell others about it, you’re earning media. More importantly, earning media is about engaging with consumers on their terms and gaining trust based on genuine understanding of what interests them. Building relationships through strong networking is also earned marketing. Build your networks by joining groups, attend events, do public speaking, write articles or an eBook, and meet people one-on-one.
Here’s an example of how one small business combines paid, owned and earned marketing to expand their exposure using POE: The small family-owned business where I take my cars for service does a great job of combining all three areas of POE. They spend money on a professional direct mail piece that goes out regularly to area homes and businesses (paid). They have a user-friendly website where you can set an appointment and get tips on caring for your car (owned) and they send regular emails with service tips and specials (owned). They have an attractive clean facility with a family-friendly waiting area (owned).
Great customer service is one of the best forms of owned/earned marketing, and they do a terrific job of following up every service job with a personal phone call and a thank you letter (owned). This sets them apart and gains them valuable testimonials (earned), some of which are posted on their website (owned).
No marketing is free. Remember there’s a cost to each category of marketing – time, money or both. Many small business owners underestimate the cost of their precious time invested in the marketing they do in-house. Owned and earned marketing takes effort and creativity to develop and leverage at any scale but it’s worth it. If you want your content to spread through social media and for social discussions to spring up around your products or services, you have to put effort into developing your social media channels. You must build your social media profiles, engage with customers and create interesting content. You must also do it consistently, week in and week out. Paying attention to your Twitter account once every 5 months will not accomplish much.
Everything you do is marketing. Regardless of the size of your business or budget, the strength of POE comes from the constant realization and reminder that nearly everything you do in your business creates a form of media marketing that falls into one or combined categories of POE. From an expensive TV ad to how you answer your phone, you are creating your brand that will affect the growth and success of your business.