The Key To Your B2B Marketing Strategy: Own It

The fragmentation of media has led to the rise of owned media. Marketing plans once revolved around paid and earned media, but their influence has waned over the years, offering diminishing returns at higher price points. That’s not to say that earned and paid media can no longer be effective, but it does mean that to get the most out of them, you must have a robust owned strategy.

What does that mean? In short, for B2B companies, nothing is more important than your website, email, videos, webinars, proprietary research reports, expert commentary and other assets that your marketing department fully controls. You can count social media platforms on that list provided that you understand that to have an effective social media campaign there needs to be a supporting paid strategy. Third-party validation remains instrumental in establishing credibility in the marketplace and among prospects, but earned media reaches its potential when owned media is utilized to provide the context necessary to make an impact with your constituency.

It used to be that earned media was wholly effective on its own. If a national publication that reaches your core prospects wrote a feature on your company, for example, it meant that your prospects were likely reading the story. But with the advent of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, individual stories were less likely to single-handedly drive prospects to your business. Today, stories are archived quickly, which means your prospect either needs to be searching for your business specifically, or they need to be on the website in that small window of time during which your story remains “above the fold.”

That doesn’t mean that a feature article in a national publication no longer has value. It just lacks the direct impact it might’ve had even five years ago. It still boasts cachet, especially if utilized properly — that is, if the article is repurposed as part of your owned media strategy. For example, that article can be featured in your newsletter that is distributed to your email database, which has the potential to have a big impact on a vetted, captive audience. It can be featured on your website, on a company blog or your social media profiles. But for any of that to work properly, you must have a quality email database cultivating prospects and delivering content they respond to. You may need to have an active company blog that you’ve developed into a known quantity in your industry and active social channels with engaged followings.

Owned is potent, but it works best when supported by paid. For instance, having a Facebook presence is important (yes, even for B2B marketers), but Facebook advertising, given what the algorithm gives preference to, is necessary to maximize your owned channel. A Facebook page’s organic reach is about 10% of what it was five years ago, so if you’re not utilizing Facebook advertising, you’re not getting nearly as much value as you should be. You shouldn’t simply throw money at it, but you need to know how to optimize your ads, how to effectively target your ads, and you must understand the value of different types of Facebook ads, such as a carousel ad versus a sponsored post.

Additionally, your website should be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy, but it, too, can and should be bolstered by a paid media strategy. Sure, it needs to have a strategic information architecture that captures the information you need from site visitors, and it needs to be well-designed to snatch your visitors’ attention, but it still needs the support of search engine marketing to optimize your website’s discoverability with the right audience of prospects. Our research, which targeted decision-makers at large and mid-size companies, shows that website and search are the two most influential channels for marketing sales or marketing that takes place when your prospects are at the moment of need. This gives you an idea of how potent these two channels are, particularly when working in concert.

In a world of information and content fractals, investing in your owned channels is chiefly important because that is where you have most control over your message. But the incontrovertible reality of media today is that no single arm -- owned, paid or earned -- can operate optimally alone. To get the most out of owned media, you’d do well to understand that it does not operate in a vacuum but rather in a media ecosystem that is more intertwined than ever.