Why Owned Media is a Critical Success Factor

In my previous post, Demand Gen 101, I shared a brief overview of different types of demand generation channels such as paid, owned, and earned. I've had the opportunity to talk to a few different start-ups over the past few weeks and it's become apparent that the concept of these channels isn't widely known - at least it isn't known to those outside the demand generation practice. In fact, before I started to dive deep into best practices and Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) calculations and lead to opportunity conversion rates, I would have also been clueless. 

If you own your own start-up, are an entrepreneur, or are working with a start-up or B2B firm, listen up: owned media is the likely the most important, most lucrative, and least expensive marketing opportunity available to you.

What is owned media, exactly? Owned media is anything that your business can control and has content ownership of, such as your website, your blog, your email programs and newsletters, and social (to some extent). Does this sound a little familiar? If you read my previous post entitled, "Understanding and Applying Permission Marketing" then you probably recall my mention of these channels as owned property that you should treat with extreme care. If you provide really, really good content, your prospects (and even current customers) will keep coming back and keep wanting more. 

In addition to owned media being centered around permission-based marketing (opt-in), it also typically means that individuals are searching for your companies or a solution that you solve. For instance, they might type into google "proposal software technology for healthcare" and up comes your blog and an article about "how-to create great proposals for the healthcare industry" . Super relevant content that offers a solution to a problem the prospect is facing. The prospect clicks on your blog, reads it, and goes searching on your website for a demo. They are clearly interested in what you have to offer, and therefore, the conversion from "lead to opportunity" is bound to be much greater. And the best part? It didn't cost you a dime.

Alternatively, let's think about paid advertising. I'm not going to bash paid advertising, because it plays a significant role in building engaged audiences. But for start-ups and growing tech companies, nailing your owned channels is the absolute most critical aspect - especially in the early days. When you buy audiences through advertising, events (to some extent), PPC, etc, you are buying eyeball time. You don't even know if they are actually in the market for what you sell. 

What's most critical in amping up owned media? Here's my quick top 5 checklist:  

  1. Nail your company messaging. What do you do? How do you do it? Why does the prospect care (ie - what's in it for them?). Have this front and center on your website and everywhere else. Make sure it's easy to understand and concise. 
  2. Show your product. Have a demo available or a quick video available on your website. Don't bury your demos on YouTube - it's ok to have them on YouTube as well, but make sure demos are on your website. They come to your website looking for product. Period. 
  3. Provide good content. Not just data sheets or sell sheets about how awesome your company is. Write real content that is relevant and helpful to the industry you're in. Share this content on your website, in your email, on your blog. Make it readily available. 
  4. Blog. Yes, everyone's doing it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Blog often and make sure your blog is on your website in a prominent position. Blog about relevant news, trending topics, and basically any kind of content your end audience finds useful. Blogging consistently (2/3x week at minimum) is the best way to build an engaged audience.   
  5. Lastly, but so important. Your website is your number 1 owned asset. Invest in it, test and optimize it regularly, and constantly refresh with new content. Make sure it's mobile optimized. Keep it fresh, clean, easy to navigate, and full of great content. 

How do you use your owned channels? Where have you found success? Drop me a note or leave me a comment - I'd love to hear from you!