POE Really Is a Manageable Marketing Strategy

Pacific Black Ducks Latin Biz Today

Small businesses: line up your ducks across the paid, owned and earned media channels (better known as POE). It’s not complicated!

 Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part article.

As anybody in the marketing communications business knows, new angles, approaches, strategies etc. appear every two or three years. They’ll dominate the conversation for awhile, then fade into the archives when the next marketing communications (marcom) epiphany grabs the spotlight.

The paid, owned and earned (POE) approach to content marketing and media planning was on the tip of every marketer’s tongue five years ago, but has been scooped in the news by growth hacking, a burgeoning popularity in email marketing, audience segmentation by persona, and the buyer’s journey among other things.

Even though POE isn’t much in the news anymore, it’s importance hasn’t diminished specially for small medium businesses (SMBs).

It’s understandable why many small business owners might glaze over when attempting to get a handle on POE: the marketing MBAs in the blogosphere have made it overly complicated for the small business owner of many hats, thus creating the impression that POE is a large enterprise play. It’s not.

Understanding POE is very simple.

There are media channels that you have to pay for: 

  • Print advertising
  • Online advertising
  • Broadcast (TV, Radio, Streaming)
  • Events
  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing

Media channels that you own:

  • Your website
  • Facebook page
  • LinkedIn page
  • Instagram page
  • X (Twitter) handle
  • TikTok
  • Your car’s bumper
  • T-shirts

And media channels that provide visibility for your business that are earned. By earned we mean your business, product or service, is being promoted by a third party at no cost to you. It is also the channel that plays a central role in an influencer marketing campaign, which we’ll tackle in another post.

For now, let’s assume your message will be repeated, reanimated, reconstituted and replayed in the following earned spaces:

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Free directories (print and online)
  • Review sites
  • Magazine articles

The most important thing for SMBs to remember when looking across paid, owned and earned channels is consistency. Your goal is to have your brand and value prop – in the form of your logo, a tagline, and a compelling message – instantly recognizable across all paid, owned and earned media.

Let’s assume that your company and campaign value proposition, points of differentiation (positioning) message architecture, proof points, look and feel – your brand – is where it needs to be. (If it isn’t, then put your POE plan away and get your brand together.)

You probably have some assets that are already built that support your brand: company website, logo, elevator pitch, sales presentation, brochure, case studies and success stories etc. Since you already have an established look and feel, your job now is to extend it across all of the marketing communications assets that you’ll be using to execute your POE plan.

Let’s also assume that you know your audience: how they’re influenced and by whom, where and how they buy, their decision-making process, their shoe size and criminal record.

Here’s a chart of how we defined each type of online media and their roles from Forrester Research, Inc.:

POE chart Forrester Research Inc.

Forrester Research Inc.

So how does a small businesses make all of this manageable, even automated?

The first step is to take half a day and create a POE plan in support of a specific campaign. The purpose of this plan is to identify the assets you’ll need to produce and how you’ll extend your look and feel of your brand and the related campaign messaging/graphics across everything (later, you’ll create your placement schedule with the knowledge that the earned channel isn’t really in your control.)

Don’t get hung up with the categorization across P.,O., and E. – it’s simply a guideline to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities.

Assets for the paid channel might include:

  • HTML emails (paid if you’re buying lists, owned if not)
  • Direct mail
  • Event support: (the cost of the event and any paid promotion would fall in the paid media category if it’s a 3rd party event, owned if it’s a proprietary event. The cost of developing the support material: posters, banners, uniforms, giveaways, brochures etc. would be part of your collateral budget, but I include it here since it needs to be consistent with other assets.)
  • Online banner advertising
  • Paid social advertising: Facebook, Linked-n, X (Twitter), Instagram, and other social sites.
  • Radio commercial scripts
  • Telemarketing scripts
  • Print ads
  • TV commercial scripts

Assets for the owned channel might include: 

  • Posts for your Facebook page
  • Posts for your Linked-In page
  • Posts for your Instagram page
  • TikTok page
  • Tweets
  • Posting of relevant content to your company website
  • New bumper stickers, T-shirts and tchotchkes

Assets for the earned channel are basically the same as what you might use as an online or print press kit: photos, press release, customer testimonials and case studies, bios, etc. Those assets should be consistent with your campaign assets in general look and feel and may need updating.

So while the actual placement of your content and messages may (and should) be free in earned channels, there may be costs associated with bringing those assets in line with your campaign imagery and messaging.

Now that you’ve got your ducks lined up across the paid, owned and earned media channels and the assets are in production, you’re ready to choreograph an end-to-end campaign to achieve the sales and visibility objectives you had in mind when you started reading this.

So please stay tuned for Key Considerations Executing an SMB POE Campaign, coming soon to a Latin Biz Today blog near you!

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