Control Your Channels

From Instagram analytics to unique monthly visitors to print ads, it can be difficult keeping up with the latest jargon and tools in the marketing arena. As a design business owner, it is vital to understand the available communications channels, and how to use and measure them to effectively support your pipeline. Let’s define these channels and how they should be considered to support your brand. First, start by understanding the key differences between earned, owned and paid media channels, and why it matters for your marketing mix.

Image via  Norbert Levajsics

Earned media is the exposure that you have received through word-of-mouth and the work you’ve put in to create (earn) visibility for your business. Through mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, and features, earned media is the recognition that you receive as a result of sharing content. PR is a key driver of this channel and editorial press placements or features of your work in print and online outlets fall in this category. Many thought leaders in the industry also receive recognition from press mentions, speaking engagements and social media sharing based on their professional viewpoints, experience working with vendors or their unique aesthetic. All of these types of exposure are awareness building, therefore, earned media should be looked at as the top of your funnel for how you reach new business leads.

Owned media is the type of content that you are in full control of. The primary goal of owned media channels is to take advantage of your story without the filter of the media. Typical owned media channels are your website, blog, social media channels, and e-newsletters. These media channels not only offer a more controlled voice about your company and your projects, but also drive engagement back to your website – the front door of your brand.

Paid media is simply any media that you pay for. Traditionally, this is TV ads, radio spots, billboards and print advertising, including advertorials. Today, the paid media mix includes digital channels such as pay-per-click (PPC), paid influencers, video ads, banner ads, retargeting, paid content promotion, and social media ads or promoted posts. A major bonus for digital media is it allows you to track metrics such as views, clicks and shares. Paid placements are integral to brand marketing and enable you to deliver your specific messages to larger or more targeted audiences (reach), and define how often these audiences receive the message (frequency).

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It can be tricky to understand how to balance your marketing channels to elevate your brand and business. Aligning your outbound communications to create continuity and consistency is vital and it supports your search engine optimization (SEO). While each media bucket has its own role, leveraging all three – earned, owned and paid media – will allow you to control your channels for a comprehensive, integrated marketing strategy.