How to distinguish between earned, owned and paid media - this week's Level Pitcher @IBAPR Digital marketing can be divided into paid, owned and earned media

Earned media is the 'icing on the marketing cake' for audience engagement, says Judith Ingleton-Beer @IBAPR Earned media is the icing on the marketing cake when engaging audiences

'Pay for it, Own it, Earn it!' The B2B marketing Trifecta @IBAPR Companies should follow the trifecta rule for content marketing – Pay for it, Own it, Earn it!

Understanding the value of earned, paid and owned media content

In my last blog I looked at the phenomenal success of Donald Trump and his use of Earned Media. In this blog I turn to B2B marketing and look at why earned media is so powerful and how it can be used with owned and paid media to huge effect in successful B2B digital marketing campaigns.
There used to be time when digital marketing was synonymous with paid media. Not anymore.

There is a digital content marketing Trifecta: earned, owned and paid. Here’s how I define the three categories.

Diagram courtesy of TitanSEO

Paid Media

Simply stated, you pay for it – tools like Google AdWords, or different types of search and display advertising, SEO and PPC campaigns, and so on. You can make these campaigns a call for action, content driven, but they have ‘PAID FOR’ written all over them.

Owned Media

This is the media channel created by your business – the content that you own, the content featured on your website: your blog posts, the free whitepapers or eBooks that you offer, and importantly the content that you share on your company’s behalf across various social media sites.

But it is increasingly becoming less trusted and of less value to prospects and customers than our third category, earned media. A recent study from the CMO Council and NetLine reveals “Buyers are not happy with vendors. Their content [tends to be] over technical, product-centric, and self-serving.”

I increasingly believe that to create trust and leadership, Owned Media needs a strong content marketing strategy, with plenty of thought leadership and positioning on business and industry issues – plus an equally strong social strategy to back it up.

Earned Media

Earned media is the icing on the marketing cake.

There’s always been more value in earned media than paid advertising, but today the difference in value between the two is wider than ever. ­­Brand advocates are what you are looking for and you now have the digital tools to actually do find and nurture them.

B2B buyers are taking a digital leaf out of the B2C book – buying a new TV? Buying a new accounting system? The story is the same: Seen the ads? Seen the offers? Oh but first before you buy – read the reviews, ask your friends, ask your financial adviser – meet the influencers.

This is why your content strategy must be about engaging your audience. It’s not just a matter of engaging prospects so they become customers. It’s about engaging customers so they become fans and promoters – and help you win more customers.

The consumerization of B2B marketing

B2B marketing has never been about reaching everyone. It’s about resonating with those you need to reach. And with social media, you can now engage with prospects from the beginning of the buying cycle, through the purchase, and on to post-sale support and beyond – turning them into evangelists.

You can build a brand around client success stories, an understanding of their pain points, new developments that are going to impact their business rather than yours – rather than telling them about your product solutions.

Most importantly, remember that engaged users singing your praises provide one more point of evidence for you to show your prospects who you are, rather than telling them and hoping they’ll believe you.

Build your marketing ecosystem with paid, owned, and earned

Earned media, however, hardly ever works alone. You have to make it a part of your marketing ecosystem along with paid and owned media. Create engaging, customer-oriented, and problem-solving content through owned media. Supplement this with paid effort support, and then get that content strategically placed where it can be spotted by your target audience. In this way, you earn the audience’s trust and support and set them on the road to becoming your brand advocates.

One of IBA’s top tenets in its PR strategy for its clients is: the same message from more than one source is more readily believed. For effective digital content marketing, companies should follow the trifecta rule: Pay for it, Own it but above all Earn it.

Judith Ingleton-Beer, CEO of IBA International

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