Maximizing Your Message: The Power of Owned, Earned and Paid Marketing

How you’re getting the word out can sometimes be just as vital as what you’re saying. That’s why it’s important to maximize your message by using an engagement model that focuses on three major areas: owned, earned and paid marketing.

Marketing, after all, is more than a brochure you hand out at a tradeshow. It’s every contact and touch point your company has with the outside world. Using the owned, earned and paid (O/E/P) engagement model can help optimize how customers experience your brand, not just how they perceive it.

Points of engagement can be divided into one of three marketing categories:


This is what you say about yourself. Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects, owned marketing includes everything from your digital presence (website, social media) to your company’s physical presence in the world (your building, location, etc.). Owned marketing can be either fully owned or partially owned. Your website is fully owned; you have complete control over the content and conversation. Your Facebook page, however, is partially owned; you control the message content, but comments and feedback create a two-way conversation.


This is what other people say about you. Earned marketing includes publicity (public relations), word of mouth, external blogs, social forwards (retweets, YouTube, etc.) and organic search results, to name a few. It’s the organic, natural or viral promotion of your message. 

While several earned media outlets can be budget savers because there may be little up-front cost, there’s a catch—the message is no longer under your direct influence.


This is what you pay for people to hear. Paid marketing is what most people traditionally associate with marketing. It includes print, radio, TV and online advertising, paid search results, product placement, in-store or tradeshow displays, etc.

Putting it all together

Perhaps the key is striking the right balance between talking and being talked about. As Sean Corcoran puts it in his blog for Forrester Research, “Ultimately, these types of media work best together, but making the hard choices of what to include and what not to include are crucial—especially when budgets are tight.”¹

One could argue that the days of broadcasting one-way messages via mass media are gone. Smart marketers look for ways to make the most of their message delivery and embrace the power of O/E/P marketing.

O/E/P worksheet

Many marketers may focus on paid, then earned and then owned marketing. At 5MetaCom, however, we believe that in order to maximize effectiveness and stretch budgets, sometimes the key is to invert that strategy: Start with owned marketing, move on to earned and then, finally, paid.

How would you rate your current marketing strategy? Use the O/E/P worksheet below to check off all the tactics you’re currently using to deliver your brand messages. Are you seeing any missed opportunities?


Conference rooms
Building location
Product samples
Product packaging
Business cards
Print collateral
Premium items (hats, pens, etc.)

Social media profiles

Internal blogs
Sales presentation materials
Smartphone apps
Employee behaviors
Billing statements
Email format/signatures
Voicemail recordings
Phone directory recordings
On-hold messages
Customer service
Phone numbers
Name tags
Frequency/loyalty programs (grocery cards, fobs, etc.)


Public relations/publicity
Organic search/SEO
Word of mouth/grassroots
External blogs
Social media shares


Print advertising
Outdoor advertising
In-store displays
Tradeshow booth/displays
Radio advertising
Online advertising
Product placement
TV advertising
Paid search results

Seeing a lot of empty check boxes? While not every tactic is right for every business, there may be some areas you could be capitalizing on—and that’s where we can help. Let’s talk and see if we can help you maximize your owned, earned and paid marketing.

¹ Corcoran, S. (2009, December 16). Defining Earned, Owned and Paid Media. [Forrester blog post].
Retrieved from