You’ve built a great product or service and you’re ready to tell the world. You may be asking yourself one of the most difficult questions in marketing, especially for small and medium sized business. Where should I invest my hard earned time and my money? In marketing, these are called channels. Traditionally, it was TV, radio, and print. Digital marketing has transformed the ecosystem with several additional options to reach audiences. These are broken up into 4 main channels. Paid, earned, owned and converged media. Here is a list of the digital marketing channels and tactics and what they all mean.
Paid Media – Any channel that requires payment to show advertisements.
- Search Engine Marketing / Pay Per Click (SEM/PPC, Google Ads)
- Display and programmatic Advertising
- Video advertising (YouTube Ads)
- Paid social media marketing
- Paid content promotion
- TV, radio, print
Owned Media – Anything under your direct control where your time is the investment.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content marketing (blogs)
- Social media marketing
- Podcasts & webinars
Earned Media – Marketing methods that do not cost any money and are typically driven by other marketing activities.
- Social media marketing mentions
- Affiliate marketing
- Referrals (word of mouth)
Converged Media – A combination of multiple channels
- Influencer Marketing
Paid media is marketing that comes with a cost. It’s the fastest and most effective way to get your brand in front of eyeballs. The only catch is that the website you are advertising has to be in excellent condition, otherwise, after the user clicks on your ad they will not have a good experience and will not convert to a sale. Think of opening a new restaurant. You’re almost ready to go, but your menu has been printed on paper because you haven’t had time to bind the new ones, and your debit machine isn’t working. You can still make great food, but some of your customers may have a bad experience. It’s important that your website is engaging and in its best shape before you start showing users the front door.
Owned media is anything you have control over and the only investment is your time. This includes writing content for your website or social media channels. It can also be making videos for your YouTube channel to build up an audience. Owned media is the most effective digital marketing strategy for your SMB long term growth. The most important owned channel is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the practice of getting your website to rank higher on Google. Writing great articles and optimizing your content can drive significant traffic to your website. Although it may sound easy, SEO is an art that takes great skill and experience to master.
Earned media is attention that you have gathered from other sources and have not directly paid for it. For example, a viral video you’ve made, or a blog post someone else has posted about you, mentions on social media, or recommendations and reviews. A fundraiser can be an example of earned media. Newspapers may pick up your story and write an article about you, or social media may notice and post about it for free.
Digital Marketing Recommendations For Your SMB
It’s time to decide which ones you should use for your SMB now that you can see all of the digital marketing options available to you. Your budget will also impact your strategy. Here are a few options depending on your budget. Also remember that your specific industry may have highly impactful channels compared to others. Use your research, experience and testing to decide which tactics to use.
With limited or zero budget, do not start with paid media advertising. Use what you control already and start with owned media tactics. Your time and value would be best spent writing content articles to educate your audience and build trust. Learn how to write for SEO and take advantage of organic traffic growth. It’s free, has great long term value, and strengthens your brand. Earned media, specifically affiliate marketing, is great for generating revenue.
If you have a budget allocated to marketing, but not enough to cover all paid media channels, it’s a good opportunity to test and gather data by running small paid advertising campaigns. Use the same earned media tactics to build your content and SEO arsenal with a sprinkle of paid media using Google Search Ads. Start with a $5-10/day budget and test various ads and keywords to gather insightful data on what works and what doesn’t so when it’s time to invest to a larger budget you are prepared with learnings.
You’ve managed to take 30% of your earnings and dedicate it to marketing. Congrats! It’s time to play ball. Are you ready? Like I said before, it’s easy to spray and pray advertisements with a credit card. Ask yourself again, is my brand positioned well? Is my website and landing page built to engage and convert? Is my website trustworthy and do I have content and resources to back that statement up? Have I collected enough data through testing small budget paid campaigns to understand what works? There are several questions to ask yourself before you turn the speakers up. Learn who your audience is and what they like to respond to and you will be ready to tackle all of the paid, earned and owned media channels.
How Can Treefrog Help?
We have worked with hundreds of SMB’s and understand the challenges running a lean business. Carving out time in your day to create a digital strategy, write articles, and manage paid media budgets is a tremendous amount of your time. Our services are designed to be an extension to your team. Contact us if you are interested in learning more.