Paid Media is generally defined as, “External marketing efforts that involve a paid placement, such as PPC advertising, branded content, and display ads. Paid media is an essential component of revenue growth and brand awareness for online businesses” (source: bigcommerce.com). For example, when you search on Google for “Restaurants Near Me” or “Computers”, the top search results you obtain are there for a reason – they paid for it.
What if you run a small business and you don’t have a big budget for Paid Media? Consider the use of what professional marketers call “Earned Media.” Here is an example. You are “XYZ Company.” You put out an article on your Social Media platforms (something about your business) and in that article, you give a favorable mention to “ABC Company” (perhaps an industry partner, a vendor, etc.). This creates instant value for ABC Company, which is now being “advertised” for free to all of your followers. And ABC Company will likely follow suit by re-posting the article, which will reach all of its own followers and therefore benefit you with increased exposure.
Since Paid Media is so well known and often used, most small businesses do not recognize that Earned Media could do just as much or maybe even more for them than Paid Media can.
Several tried-and-true methods create effective Earned Media, such as:
- Ratings & Reviews
- Encourage your consumers, followers, and colleagues to leave ratings and reviews about your company on Google, Facebook, and any other outlets your company may use. This will create good culture for your business (assuming the review is positive!), and the reviewer’s followers will see the review and gain a positive impression of your business.
- Social Media Interactions
- “If you share yours, I’ll share mine.” Interact strategically with other local (or otherwise related) businesses on your social accounts. If you share another business’s post, they will most likely reciprocate – or just simply ask, “Hello, I was wondering if you would like to support one another as local businesses and share each other’s posts.”
- Take the next step and actually comment on – or at least “like” – the posts of others. This practice creates even more exposure for you, because your company name will pop up on their followers’ timelines.
- Blog Relationships
- This is the example I described above. Offer to write blogs for other businesses or ask other businesses if they would like to be featured in your blog. By featuring other businesses in your blog, you can give them a link to share the blog item with their clients and followers – this creates double the exposure for your blog.
- Ask customers/clients to give testimonials. These testimonials do not need to be restricted to use on your own website – share them on your social accounts and (with permission) mention the person who gave the testimonial. Again, this is a prompt for your customer to Like, Comment, or Share your item and thereby extend your network of followers into theirs.
Earned Media, when executed consistently and strategically, offers great potential for new traffic and extended brand awareness of your business. Paid Media is tempting, but for small businesses it is often cost-prohibitive and if you’re not able to pay for top billing, the value declines quickly. As the great philosopher, Ricky Bobby, once said: “If you’re not first, you’re last.” That is usually the case with Paid Media, so do what you can to take advantage of great no-cost strategies to supplement your marketing plan!
For more detail, don’t hesitate to give CLM Advisors a call at 856-589-3100 and we can help get you started.