During a recent seminar I conducted for a group of financial advisers titled, “Leveraging Marketing Content to Build Credibility, Gain Visibility and Grow Your Business,” my audience posed several questions about content types such as paid, owned and earned media.
In our digital age, marketing content is king. Consumers no longer rely exclusively on print and broadcast media to get their information about products and services. Access to a plethora of online content from expert sources enables them to make educated decisions for their purchases. This has significantly altered the traditional, straightforward path to sales and created a compelling need for service and product providers to generate valuable content. The latter plays a crucial role in establishing an ongoing social media dialogue with consumers to establish credibility from the inception of the sales process, generate brand recognition and shorten the sales cycle.
In the seminar, while a handful of advisers had a vague idea of paid, owned and earned media, many desired to hear definitions of each and how each relates to content generation and, most important, how to make it part of an overall marketing strategy.
Here are broad definitions: generally speaking, paid media is useful to generate brand recognition and collect client demographics. Owned media helps build brand experience and earned media helps foster conversation about a brand. For those of you not familiar with this media triad, here is a brief overview of them:
Paid media: Any paid activity aimed at disseminating your messages and attracting visibility to your brand. Better known as advertising, it involves print and broadcast media, as well as any type of paid social media, such as promoted Facebook posts, sponsored LinkedIn ads and pay-per-click.
Paid media contributes very little to building credibility. However, it is very useful for creating brand awareness and gathering valuable audience demographics. It is a viable means of mass communication, especially when used in combination with owned or earned media and it must feature call-to-actions based on customer benefits.
Let me explain: to generate new business leads, an adviser can use paid media to promote her appearance on a radio or TV interview. She can add to her paid media a call-to-action to direct prospects to her website to download a digital “freemium,” such as a white paper or a podcast—her owned media—and capture prospects’ contact information and other key information.
Owned media: The channels created, owned and controlled by your business. These include your website, social media accounts, mobile site, blog, email list and any content you give away with the intent to generate leads.
Owned media enables advisers to be in complete control of what free content to distribute, when and how. Owned media’s popularity is rising fast, as consumers increasingly rely on online information to make their buying and investment decisions.
A recent inPowered/Nielsen study confirmed that when considering the purchase of a product or service, consumers currently seek out and rely on content generated by trusted expert sources five times more than they did five years ago. Often, the boundaries between earned and owned media are not as clear as they can appear. For example, an adviser’s blog post (owned media) when republished by a media outlet or an influential industry blog(s) will be considered earned media.
Earned media: What your followers, fans and clients say about you and your expertise. It attracts the attention of your key audiences, and if they like your brand and message(s), they become your brand evangelists and influencers by voluntarily sharing your content, insights, tips and brand with prospects and additional potential brand advocates in the social media world and by word-of-mouth.
Retweets, shares, likes and mentions, which are not paid for, are earned media. It is the hardest type of media to secure, yet it’s the most trustworthy and instrumental to the success and growth of your business. The direct effect of earned media—retweets and/or mentions of your name, an interview or quote in a leading print or broadcast media outlet—is immediate and strong credibility. Press, radio and TV especially provide an adviser with the most powerful third-party endorsement by positioning her or him as an authority and a trusted expert source.
As consumers increasingly depend on online content to gather valuable information, advisers must implement tactics that drive traffic to their websites and increase visibility for their brands, expertise and services. This can be achieved by developing holistic online marketing strategies that astutely combine paid, owned and earned media models to tell a consistent story that engages and motivates their audiences.
Claudio O. Pannunzio
President and Founder