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Understand Paid, Owned, Shared, and Earned Media, But Don’t Do Everything at the Same Time

media meeting with managers

As I discussed in our recent live stream, the first step of a marketing funnel is awareness that your leads gain through some type of marketing, or stated differently, some type of media channel. I outlined four broadly recognized categories for these media channels:

Paid media

  • examples include paid ads on Google and Facebook
  • great for immediate traffic, but you’ll need to use paid media with restraint if you’re on a tight budget

Owned media

  • examples include blog posts, newsletters, or videos that you produce
  • requires more time (and skill) than money
  • can help you achieve organic search engine rankings, especially if you apply SEO (search engine optimization) principles.

Shared media

  • similar to owned media, but on a platform that is not owned by you
  • examples include posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and X
  • advantage is that you don’t have to set up any infrastructure
  • disadvantage is that you don’t own the content; theoretically, it could disappear overnight, or you could lose your visibility on the platform (which you do hear about occasionally)

Earned media

  • this is the most difficult category since it’s mediated fully at the discretion of another outlet
  • examples include a quote that is attributed to you as an expert in someone else’s blog post, an article or column that an industry publication asks you to contribute, or a guest appearance on a podcast
  • not likely that you’ll get any earned media opportunities before first producing a good deal of owned or at least shared media

The graphic included above includes even more media options that you can participate in. As suggestions for approaching this broad landscape:

1. Consider the commitment of money and time

If you need leads and have some budget, paid media can be a very effective channel.

If your budget is limited but you have some time, owned and shared media might be a better option for getting leads into your marketing funnel.

2. Learn the basics of all media channels, but don’t drill down into too many at once

As I mention routinely, it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand all aspects of a business, and this includes marketing options.

That said, I don’t recommend that you try to focus on too many channels at once. For instance, it may be good to focus on building out your blog (owned media) and learn enough about Google Ads (paid media) and LinkedIn articles (shared media) to engage an agency for support and to monitor their performance on these latter two channels.

3. Monitor, learn, and document

When you’ve picked a small number of channels to focus on, make an effort to systematize your approach and document processes and learnings. For instance, if you’re writing blog posts, set up a content calendar and, based on analytics and comments, note which types of posts get the best reception.

The repeatability that process and documentation enable will prove especially beneficial if you need to pass responsibility for the channel to someone else in your new company.

For more on approaching the media channels that feed your marketing funnel, watch the recorded live stream.

Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

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