Owned Media vs. Traditional Marketing

Over the past two years I have been retained by companies and organizations to help them understand social media and how it can help their small businesses compete with the big guys. Well, not to say that Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Foursquare can replace the expertise and convenience of having a PR firm at your disposal, but today small business owners are beginning to embrace the concept of “Owned Media” and learning how to deliver this content to their niche audience.

Historically, small business owners that provided product direct to consumers bought an ad in the local paper or billboard on a busy highway and accepted the ROI, even though they knew they were exposing their products to many eyeballs that may never use their products. Today, we can build our database and customer contacts with affordable customer relation management software, and deliver our message affordably and regularly to our core audience in a matter of moments. In addition, many new message delivering tools are out there including social media networks and blogs.

Recently, I hosted a mommy blogger day for Dutch Springs Aqua Park and NorthStar Adventure. I invited bloggers from around the tri-state area to visit the park with their family. Each of the participants has surprised me with their writing skills and hunger to communicate their recommendations to their loyal following. Cameras in hand and children by their side they click and play and chat with employees to get a feel for the park.

Each blogger has thousands of Facebook friends, Twitter followers and loyal RSS feeds that read their blogs and buy from their recommendations. These mommy bloggers and bloggers in any field are creating their “Owned Media” library and publishing content for those of us interested in what they have to say. As an emerging media, few blogs have been sold to date, but realistically the databases of these blogs and the content of the authors has some real value.

Creating affordable ways to deliver your message to your audience has always been the secret behind a successful small business. Word of Mouth has been relied on to market a business since the dawn of time. Now this loyal recommendation is being called World of Mouth, since so many more people get to hear what is being said about your business.

I truly recommend learning as much as you can about social media and how it can impact your professional and personal life.

Gregg Marzano is owner of Rainmakers Lehigh Valley, a consulting and business development firm specializing in the lodging and tourism business. Gregg is an adjunct faculty member of Northampton Community College, and teaches in the Hotel and Restaurant Division. He is an active member of ASTD and is Treasure of the Eastern PA Chapter.