Chapter 14: What Is Owned Media?
Owned Media includes all of the media channels you control completely. Barring legal issues like slander and truth-in-advertising regulations, you can put whatever content you want on this channel. This is both an advantage (you can put anything you want up) and a potential problem (there’s nobody to tell you when you shouldn’t put up something you want to).
Examples of owned media include:
- Your website and mobile site
- Your blog
- Your social media accounts
- Signage on your building
- Takeaway collateral and similar printed media kept in-house
- Ebooks and self-published books
- Video content and webinars
- Other online content
During the attraction phase, the purpose of all owned media is to educate a stranger about the context of what you can do for him. To do this, your owned content should meet all of the following criteria:
- It must have longevity, meaning a stranger who reads it next year can get (almost) as much out of it as a stranger who reads it the day you write it. Our clients routinely get leads from articles five or more years old. That can’t happen with content that gets stale.
- It must have authority, by citing trusted sources or following the impeccable logic, or otherwise providing solid, neutral value. This is the only way media on this channel overcomes the near-universal distrust people have of company communication.
- It must invite the reader to learn more, thus gently moving him into the next stages of both the buyer’s journey and the inbound marketing process.
The chief advantages of owned media in the digital age lie in versatility and control. Because you can put whatever you want up, you can provide content specifically tailored to not only your core customer demographic but to any niches you want to attract to your brand. Because owned digital media is so cheap to produce, you can give each of several target populations their own suite of resources.
Risk and scale are the chief disadvantages of digital owned media. Because the best solution is to produce a metric ton of high-value content, it takes time and resources to get that metric ton conceived, produced and posted…and you won’t know if you produced the right resources until you’re done. It’s one of those marketing situations where the old saying about “You waste 50% of your marketing dollars, but nobody knows which half” is probably optimistic…at least in the production phase. Once the content is posted, analytics can tell you quickly which pages are working and which aren’t.
Let’s look at some examples of potential clients, and what attraction-stage owned media might look like to serve them:
John owns a skiing and snowboard equipment and repair shop and has a seasonal cash flow problem. For the past two years, he hasn’t had enough reserves to advertise effectively before the busy season starts, or to even stock enough of the most popular items to capitalize on the customers who do come in. He is a prime stranger for a small business lending company to want to turn into a delighted client.
Attraction-stage owned media for him should offer education on options for fixing the cash flow problem. This should naturally include a few pieces telling him the details of small business lending like interest rates and terms, but should also offer alternatives and useful advice needed by small business owners, and (if appropriate) specifically for snowboard and ski shops. A smart suite of owned media offerings aimed at John would include:
- Blog posts on how to cut expenses during the slow season
- A list of links to Small Business Administration resources
- An ebook including a state-by-state breakdown of local small business resources, including grants and social connections
- An infographic comparing different kinds of small business loans
- A short video (or series of short videos) on how to improve small business credit
Mia runs a Chemistry Library that solves problems for high-tech clients, who has recently lost two lawsuits due to injuries in the lab resulting from incorrectly following her instructions. Her insurance rates are through the roof, but more importantly, the news of the lawsuits is costing her new customers. She needs to find out how to improve her reports to maximize safety and minimize her exposure. Mia is a prime stranger for a safety consulting firm.
Owned digital media for Mia would focus on her high niche problem, and would need to contain lots of specific examples and industry jargon for her to trust it. It would aim to help her analyze what mistakes her staff is making and what issues with her communication might be causing problems. An effective suite to attract Mia might include:
- A short video of a “bad” consulting document, identifying common causes that create risk.
- A resource page listing local lawyers who specialize in defending high-tech consultants
- A diagnostic quiz aimed at helping the user pinpoint what’s causing the problems
- Ebook or research report guides on the most common high-tech consulting mistakes that open a company up to lawsuits
- A social media feed that shares a combination of tech lawsuit news and “feel good” pieces about recent breakthroughs and awards
Offerings like these attract John and Mia and because they offer easy to access, easy to understand information about the problem he has and some possible solutions. It overcomes the challenges of company communication by giving information that would allow them to do business with a different company. Each would also include links to other items in the suite that invite him to experience more content on the company assets. Assuming the ebook was updated every few years, the content would remain evergreen enough to be relevant to John or Mia if they didn’t get around to reading it for a couple of years.
Important to Note
To get the ebook or other value added downloadable material your potential customer must give you some personal information (Name, email, etc). This is an exchange of useful information for some personal contact information. If you value added material has enough value then a real potential client will have no problem giving some personal information and you will receive a lead which you can guide through their buyer’s journey. We will have more on how this works in future chapters.
Of course, the best owned assets possible don’t operate effectively in a vacuum. They rely on their partner channels to successfully move strangers into the next phase of the process.