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February 4, 2022

How to define your company's marketing and media needs

It’s a new year, and marketers are kicking off fresh campaigns to sell new products, introduce new hires, launch new brands and much more. While many businesses excel at identifying their strategic priorities for the year, or for a particular initiative, it’s not uncommon to jump right to the marketing tactics they either know and love or those that have been mainstays of their marketing program in the past.

To truly reach the broadest audience and meet your prospects where they spend time consuming content, consider a multi-channel marketing campaign for the new year that blends multiple distribution platforms for the greatest impact.

A multi-channel marketing plan can give your brand the boost it needs, engaging audiences across channels, capitalizing on content, and ensuring visibility and a wider awareness of your strategic messages. Before you can get tactical, you need to understand the differences between the categories of marketing channels: paid, earned, owned and shared media channels.

head shot of woman with dark hair
Courtesy / Fluent IMC
Marnie Grumbach is the founder of Fluent IMC.

Think about your previous marketing efforts and look at opportunities to expand into new channels. For example, if your go-to has historically been paid broadcast advertising but engagement has tapered off, this might be the year to incorporate more earned or owned media into your bigger strategy. 

First, understand the differences between paid, earned, owned and shared media — known in the integrated marketing space as the PESO model, created by Gini Dietrich.

Paid media: Any type of paid advertising falls into this category, which revolves around paying to leverage brand visibility on a third-party channel to reach that channel’s existing audience. Think TV spots, newspaper ads, boosted Facebook posts, programmatic ad placements, radio spots and Google adwords campaigns. For many, paid media is an entrance into the world of marketing, if not the bulk of their entire marketing program, offering an easy exchange of marketing dollars for a specific advertising message that your business controls and signs off on.

Earned media: Also known as public relations, the earned media umbrella is all about distribution through credible third-party media. This includes press coverage, speaking engagements or panelist opportunities and word-of-mouth awareness. Unlike paid media, while you may pitch a story idea about your product, service or an industry trend to a journalist or influencer, you don’t necessarily have oversight or control over what gets published in the finished piece. However, earned media is commonly viewed as more valuable than paid media because the message is coming from a trusted source, not being bought. These days, having (unpaid) influencers or bloggers talk about your brand can also fall into the category of earned media.

Owned media: Anything you create or control falls into this category, including your website, brand and/or sales materials, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, email marketing and other educational materials. If you created it and manage it, you own it. Most organizations invest heavily in their website, social media channels and brand and marketing materials used to support sales. Significant resources are spent on the development and ongoing oversight and management of owned media.

Shared media: Your interactions on social media are considered shared media and are a great way to build relationships with other brands, target media influencers, and leverage content that falls into the owned, earned, and sometimes paid categories.
Organize your program into a multi-channel approach

There’s an art to developing an effective integrated marketing campaign that recognizes each individual marketing channel as just one facet of a comprehensive plan. Consider this education on marketing channels the foundation of your multi-channel marketing program. You’re now better positioned to think strategically about how to distribute and reinforce your messaging across channels. 

It’s helpful to house your plans in a collective strategy. Start by organizing your existing marketing efforts in a format that will allow you to identify gaps in your multi-channel approach that might be an opportunity to round out your program.

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