The Paid / Owned / Earned Strategy – How To Get The Most From Your Assets & Grow Your Visibility

During my time working in London’s marketing industry, one of the key things I helped brands to do was to coordinate their marketing strategy and to help them get the most from their content and assets, enabling them to get seen by their audience. One of the key ways of doing this was by separating their content into a three-pronged approach. By doing so, it allowed them to really break things down and get the most from each platform, thereby increasing their visibility online. Are you wanting to boost your visibility online and get seen by your ideal client? Read on for how the Paid Owned Earned (POE) strategy could help you.

Marketing strategies for small businesses - by business coach Rachel Overall Coaching

The Theory

Quite simply, whatever the size of your business, whether you’re a ‘solopreneur’ or a multi-national brand, the options available to you are the same. Whenever you need to dial things up and boost your visibility, there are several core groups of methods at your disposal. Often, as small business owners, we can get overwhelmed or unsure where to begin, and this lack of clarity can lead to a lack of action. So, by breaking things down into three easy chunks, you can help work out what assets are available to you, and leverage these accordingly.

Paid

This does what it says on the tin – this is any paid marketing that you could choose to run. You don’t need to be a big brand to run paid advertising – you can often start from just a few pounds a day, before scaling those strategies that are most effective for you.

So, what kind of paid marketing could you do?

  • Social media. Whether Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn, many brands advertise on social media – and with more people online during lockdown and supply going up, it’s more affordable than ever. Whether it’s to increase your followers or promote a certain post to raise awareness of a new product/service/offer there are so many strategies you can implement here.
  • Search engine marketing (SEM). Through Google AdWords, you can create keyword campaigns to ensure your brand is appearing high up for relevant searches. This is particularly helpful if your website is new or your SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy isn’t yet strong enough to drive your organic search appearances.
  • Directories. Depending on your industry, it might be worth considering paying to be listed on any key directories used by your audience – for example within the wedding industry, a number of the big blogs have paid directories that you can list to, either for a month/quarter/yearly subscription.
  • Traditional ads. Whilst I am a big advocate of online marketing, from time to time there may also be certain offline marketing options that are relevant for your business – such as ads in your local newspaper or magazine, or even radio ads. These are often most beneficial for shops, salons or anywhere with a local premises to reach people nearby.

If you’re paying for your advertising, it’s important to set a marketing budget – it’s easy to spend a few pounds here and a few pounds there, but without any real budget or strategy, you will soon overspend without seeing any kind of return on investment. Be strategic – pick one or two key channels that are relevant for your audience, and test these before committing to a bigger spend. With the likes of social media or search engine marketing, you can easily run short, tactical bursts – an easy way to give your business a quick boost at key times of year.

Owned

As a business, it’s likely you’ll have a number of owned assets. As they are yours, they’re easy to leverage and you have full control. Plus, they’re often a really cost-efficient way of reaching your audience, and pass back the most data. So what do I mean by owned assets?

  • Website. Your website is one of your biggest assets as an online business – it is your shopfront, and a way for you to educate your audience all about you and your products or services, as well as encouraging them to buy. Having a well-designed website that gives a good user experience, updating it regularly and working on your SEO (to improve your organic search rankings on Google) will all help you to not only get your website seen, but to make it more effective.
  • Blog. Your blog is an important tool in boosting your website SEO (by keeping content fresh and regularly updated, and relevant with carefully picked keywords), and also boosts your authority and credibility. You can easily schedule blogs in advance, so set some time aside to bulk-write and it’ll save you so much time.
  • Email marketing. Email marketing is often neglected, but can be one of the most effective marketing methods when done well. You’ll need to act in accordance with GDPR legislation, but building an email list (using the likes of Mailchimp or Mailerlite) can provide you with a cheap and easy way of communicating and engaging with your audience. If your audience do agree to share their inbox with you though, make sure you provide them with tailored, relevant content to keep them happy and stop people from unsubscribing.
  • Social pages and groups. This one comes with a caveat… Technically, you don’t ‘own’ your social pages or groups (for example, Facebook could stop tomorrow, and you would be left without your page or any data) but for the purposes of this exercise, it’s easiest to include social pages/profiles within your ‘owned’ assets. Keep your Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn pages up to date, work on an engaging bio, use imagery that correlates to your brand, tailor your content and copy, and post regularly and consistently to get seen. And, engage with other accounts on the platform too. Cheap, quick and easy, social media is an important asset to leverage.

Earned

Your ‘earned’ media comes from external sources. Whilst often neglected, this is such an important area to focus on and will be able to quickly boost the online visibility of your brand.

  • Testimonials. Make the most of any client testimonials to their full potential. Encourage your customers/clients to leave you reviews on the likes of your Google business page, on Facebook, or even just a written testimonial in an email. Share these – whether you include a widget within your website or shouting about them on your social media. Peer to peer is one of the most effective marketing methods – people trust other people like themselves, and so seeing reviews from other happy customers is an easy way of building your credibility and increasing their likelihood of purchasing.
  • PR. PR is an easy way to boost both the visibility and credibility of your brand, quickly and for very little cost. When formulating your PR strategy, handpick a list of publications (of varying sizes) that will be relevant to your brand. Bigger titles will be harder to get in but will get you more eyes on your brand and be a bigger boost for SEO – but smaller, more niche titles, will generally benefit from being much more targeted and less wastage, plus may be more easy to get into.

NEXT STEPS

For each of these sections, list out the channels/assets that are either available or most relevant to you. From there, pick out your core priorities within each – it’s better to do a few things well than not at all.

As a small business in the early stages, it’s important to ensure you have all of your Owned assets in a good place before attempting to focus on your Paid or Earned. Once your website/social pages are up and running and you’re happy with how they look/work, then it’s time to start branching out how you get more eyeballs on these – whether by building out a PR strategy or running some paid ads, if budget allows. Remember – paid ads are a nice-to-have, not a necessity. It’s perfectly possible to grow your business without spending on marketing – but, it can speed things up quite a bit if you’re willing to invest.

Once you’re familiar with all of the different levers available to you, it’s time to start formulating your marketing plan and strategy. I’ll be sharing more details with this in one of my next blog posts, but if you have any questions or want to sit down and build this out together, you can drop me a note here or email me at rachel@racheloverallcoaching.com

Brand & Marketing Plans and Strategies for Small Businesses

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