As a local business owner, you know that your company’s brand is absolutely everything. Your brand represents the identity of your business and having a positive brand image is critical to acquiring, maintaining, and retaining customers. Who wants to buy from a company that has a poor brand image? With all your competitors trying to differentiate themselves, how can you give your brand that boost??
The answer is to combine paid media with earned media. Let me first define these terms. An example of paid media would be buying text ads on Google. Earned media, on the other hand, is essentially word of mouth (when people talk about your business). I love how Andrea Wolinetz, director of social media at PHD, puts it:
“Earned media is the buzz, and it’s more of an effect than a cause. It’s what becomes of any fire that we start in a space, whether it’s from paid media or not. Earned media is what you get when you foster such a connection with someone that he’s impelled to write a Yelp review, a blog post, a comment or a tweet, sharing their thoughts on your brand with their social network” (Drell).
And check this out: research shows that earned media combined with paid media can increase brand awareness, purchase consideration, and positive brand association.
For example, Synaptic Digital and Kantar Video studied how consumers reacted to three varieties of marketing, shown individually and together. The results showed that a combination of earned media and paid media proved to lift brand awareness:
The same conclusion held for purchase consideration as shown below.
A final take-away for you: According to the study, consumers responded best when they viewed media in the following format:
1) Paid ad (Your ad shows on Google advertising for a free consultation)
2) Brand creative (Your banner ad displays on content-related websites)
3) Earned media (Your recent customer, Sandra, posts positive comments about your business on her Facebook page)
Therefore, it is important to evaluate your online marketing strategy in terms of web presence optimization (how people are finding out about your business). Together with paid advertising and earned media, you can significantly build your customer base. Remember, with your brand, it is not who you know, it is who knows you (this is exactly the goal of web presence optimization).
Did you think earned media would have such an impact on paid advertising? Why or why not? Share your feedback in a comment!
About Alan Moore: Alan is an Internet Marketing Consultant with ReachLocal Baltimore. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $1,000,000 in yearly marketing budgets and has worked with local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call at (877)655-3438 to schedule a free consultation.
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