What’s the best plan to reach your customers?
You go to where they spend their time, whether that’s placing an ad during a television show they watch, or getting a spot on a popular website they read. You want them to run into your brand in an organic way, in as many places as possible.
This is not a hard and fast number, but the spirit of the rule is obvious—buyers are more comfortable making purchases if they have confidence in your product. Building confidence and trust takes time. Therefore, some smart repetition of your message is the best way to foster and grow that comfort level with your brand.
Let’s break it down: how, exactly, do you reach a potential customer seven times without pissing them off or driving them away?
Thanks to a little thing called the Internet, access to your customers has never been more proliferate, and that access takes the form of four key media types: Paid, Owned, Earned, and Shared media.
Paid Media is what we know of as advertising.
In the past, paid media was anything from ads in newspapers and magazines, radio spots, television commercials to billboards or posters in train stations or malls. Now, it also includes ads on websites, Google, and social media platforms.
Owned Media are locations your business controls.
This includes your website, your online retail space if it’s self-hosted, and your brick-and-mortar location. You control the content, the layout, the ways in which you display that space, and the level of availability you provide for your customers, such as 24/7 customer service. An example of owned media would be your blog, your newsletter, your videos, or your infographics.
Earned Media is a little trickier.
Publicity and media relations fall into this category, and oftentimes, a PR firm helps control this aspect of a marketing plan. You can’t necessarily purchase publicity, but there are ways of exerting influence over it. Celebrities and TV personalities do this through image, projecting the persona they want their audience to embrace. Cultivating relationships in your industry is a way to influence earned media.
An example would be a publisher entreating one of their contracted bestselling authors to provide praise for a debut title, which would boost sales for a newly contracted author. Readers devoted to the bestselling author who trust the quality of that person’s work will feel more comfortable giving the new author a chance. Think about the number of debut novels Stephen King has endorsed on Twitter. King has a fan base of millions on that platform alone, and they look to him for book recommendations. The testimonial is a more powerful tool than if they’d just seen an ad on a poster in the subway station. Testimonials from industry professionals or voices of authority, such as a dermatologist recommending a beauty product, go a long way to earning the potential buyer’s trust in your product or service.
Shared Media is the most coveted of all the marketing techniques.
It’s also the most difficult to achieve, but it’s also the most successful. It’s also known as word-of-mouth endorsements. When you generate content, your audience must find it useful or entertaining. Then they’re more likely to share it on their social media accounts. Google rankings also take into account the shareability of your content, and the more shares you get, the higher your rank in search results. The goal is to go “viral,” and a perfect example of this is Candace Payne, also known as Chewbacca Mom.
In May 2016, the 37-year-old Dallas mother recorded a video of herself outside the Kohl’s store near her home in Dallas, Texas, wearing a talking Chewbacca mask she’d just purchased. Her mirth and enjoyment of the mask was infectious, and her video was viewed more than 140 million times within 5 days, and had more than 3 million “reshares” on social media. The mask sold out at Kohl’s that day, and at Target, WalMart, Toys “R” Us, and other online retailers within 3 days. Kohl’s, who had reported an 87% drop in profits in the first quarter of 2016, capitalized on the momentum and publicity, rewarding Payne with gift cards and garnering her a spot on Good Morning America. The 34.4 million views Kohl’s had received for their sponsorship of the 88th Annual Academy Awards was only 25% of the views Payne’s video received. The free publicity from the Chewbacca mask video gave the struggling retailer a shot in the arm, as well as Hasbro, the mask’s manufacturer, and Facebook, which had only rolled out its Facebook Live video feature five months earlier. Now, if you type “Chewbacca” in the Google search bar, “Chewbacca mom” is the second autofill option that pops up.
Putting all four of these media options in your marketing plan sets up your business for well-rounded campaign execution that has the flexibility required to reach people from a multitude of directions.
The ideal marketing plan steps through the customer life cycle with your customers from beginning to end, and the best way to do this is through paid, owned, earned, and shared media. With strong content on your paid and owned campaigns, you can convert customers into proponents of your business on the earned and shared side.
What you should do this week in your marketing plan:
Create a content calendar that introduces a mix of paid and owned content every month, and a plan for how you’ll send it out to influencers or media platforms that could help it be published, syndicated or go viral. Remember: your content has to be both informative and entertaining. Videos and articles they can use in their daily lives helps potential customers build their trust in your brand, and they become ambassadors of your brand, lending you industry authority you can use to generate more leads. Once you begin the cycle, it can perpetuate itself, and become a finely tuned mechanism of continued business growth.