The Importance of Owned Media — and How Outdoor Brands Can Leverage It
As savvy marketers already know, owned media — the likes of company blogs, websites and social media platforms — has become a key piece to today’s marketing puzzle. And for outdoor brands in particular, creating a strong owned-media plan is both a vital part of a successful marketing strategy and a real opportunity to connect with (and even spur loyalty among) outdoor enthusiasts in a cost-effective way. Here, we’ll explore this critical marketing tool, along with a few ways outdoor brands can reap its rewards.
What Is Owned Media?
The term “owned media” covers any communication platform that a business owns/controls. This can include a company’s:
Social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn
In short, if a business can create and control the message on a communication channel, and it can distribute this message at little or no cost to the company, the channel falls into the “owned media” category.
By comparison, paid media encompasses any communication channel a company must pay to leverage, such as advertising and sponsorships, while earned media includes coverage and exposure from reporters, news outlets and other influencers. This latter category also covers messaging from customers and fans who have themselves become the channel/ambassadors — leading to a word-of-mouth scenario considered by many to be the holy grail of marketing (and that owned media can help foster).
The Benefits of Owned Media
The obvious advantages to owned-media channels are the very characteristics that define them — businesses can control the messages conveyed by owned media, and they can do so for free (or at least at a greatly reduced cost).
The benefits of owned media include:
Control of authentic content
But the true marketing value of owned media is deeper than any of these single benefits. By strategically creating and distributing a message that acts as an extension of your brand message, you can craft a narrative that boosts your brand awareness and, eventually, helps create brand ambassadors.
An Eager Audience for Outdoor Brands
The opportunity presented by owned media is particularly attractive for outdoor brands. Because we in the outdoor community tend to be so passionate about our outdoor pursuits, sportsmen and women are particularly hungry for content related to their chosen devotion. But we’re also discriminating about the content we’ll consume.
Particularly in the outdoor industry, owned-media content must:
Be authentic — Sportsmen and women know their stuff, and they can sniff out the inauthentic from a mile away.
Be relevant — In an increasingly busy media landscape, marketers who waste the consumer’s time with irrelevant posts and content may soon fine themselves unfollowed.
Be interesting to the consumer/audience — As mentioned above, the media landscape is getting busier. Unless you pique a consumer’s interest, he or she will scroll right by.
Use high-quality imagery and video — As technology has improved, consumers have grown to expect quality images. Grainy, low-resolution images and videos can give a bad impression of your brand.
The Path to Success With Outdoor Enthusiasts
Owned media, of course, should not be the only strategy in your marketing plan — rather, a successful marketing strategy uses a mix of paid, earned and owned media. With that said, over time, TBA Outdoors wants to help make its clients less reliant on paid media and more reliant on their owned media. We want them to become their own best media company. In the end, it’s all about maximizing conversions at the lowest possible cost!
With that in mind, here are a few tips we offer our clients in moving toward this goal:
One of the biggest keys to gaining owned-media traction is to build a strong following and a large email database. In our experience, using a mix of paid media, social media lead ads and sweepstakes is a very effective way to grow a social following and/or an email database quickly.
Developing a robust customer, prospect and influencer database is crucial — and at times, this is a neglected component of many brands’ owned-media strategy. Making sure you have a clean and verified email list is paramount to the success of any campaign.
Once you’ve begun to develop a strong owned-media presence, employ strategic tactics to have your various established channels build off of one another. Did you just post a great article on your blog? Share the link on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts. Conducting a sweepstakes on your Facebook page? Encourage followers on your other social media channels to go there and enter — and to like/follow you on Facebook while they’re there. (And of course, during the sweepstakes entry itself, be sure to capture their email addresses for your database.)
Some of our top outdoor clients have seen their owned-media efforts spark some of their biggest marketing successes — and with ad-placement costs nonexistent or greatly reduced thanks to a robust owned-media following. Consider these two examples, one a social media post from Alabama-based rainwear/wader/footwear producer frogg toggs, and the other a partnered sweepstakes featuring (among others) Florida-based skiff maker Hell’s Bay Boatworks, North Carolina-based outdoor apparel brand Fish Hippie, and South Carolina-based watchmaker Hook+Gaff:
With a Facebook post that checked all the boxes for outdoor-brand social media success (authentic, relevant, interesting, high-quality), frogg toggs went viral. This video of a double bass catch (on one hook) posted on the company’s Facebook account earned more than 2.6 million views, more than 26,000 likes, more than 3,000 comments and more than 48,000 shares — and still counting.
Promoted via social media and email marketing, the month-long Fish With Flip Sweepstakes (see details at FishWithFlipSweeps.com) garnered attention and opt-in email addresses for all of its participating sponsors. Among the results: 15,000-plus people visited the sweepstakes website, and more than 11,000 people signed up for the contest.
For outdoor brands looking to get ahead and stay ahead, owned media can be a powerful tool. Looking for help developing your owned-media channels and generating an audience of loyal followers? At TBA Outdoors, our team of outdoors-obsessed marketing professionals doesn’t just work outside, we live outside — giving us unique insight into the mind of the outdoors-oriented consumer. Contact us today, and let our niche category experience and industry insights help take your outdoor brand to the next level.