POE Really Is a Manageable Marketing Strategy

Small businesses: line up your ducks across the paid, owned and earned media channels (better known as POE). It’s not complicated!


As anybody in the marketing communications business knows, new angles, approaches, strategies etc. appear every two or three years. They’ll dominate the conversation for awhile, then fade into the archives when the next marketing communications (marcom) epiphany grabs the spotlight.

The “paid, owned and earned” (POE) approach to content marketing and media planning was on the tip of every marketer’s tongue five years ago, but has been scooped in the news by “growth hacking”, a burgeoning popularity in email marketing, audience segmentation by persona, and the buyer’s journey among other things.

Even though POE isn’’t much in the news anymore, it’s importance hasn’t diminished …specially for small medium businesses (SMBs).

It’’s understandable why many small business owners might glaze over when attempting to get a handle on POE: the marketing MBAs in the blogosphere have made it overly complicated for the small business owner of many hats, thus creating the impression that POE is a large enterprise play. It’s not.

Understanding POE is very simple.

There are media channels that you have to pay for:

  • Print advertising
  • Online advertising
  • Broadcast (TV, Radio, Streaming)
  • Events
  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing

Media channels that you own:

  • Your website
  • Facebook page
  • Linked In page
  • Google+ page
  • Twitter handle
  • Your car’s bumper
  • T-shirts

And media channels that provide visibility for your business that are earned. By “earned” we mean your business, product or service, is being promoted by a third party at no cost to you. It is also the channel that plays a central role in an influencer marketing campaign, which we’ll tackle in another post.

For now, let’s assume your message will be repeated, reanimated, reconstituted and replayed in the following earned spaces:

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Free directories (print and online)
  • Review sites
  • Magazine articles
  • Etc.

The most important thing for SMBs to remember when looking across paid, owned and earned channels is consistency. Your goal is to have your brand and value prop – in the form of your logo, a tagline, and a compelling message – instantly recognizable across all paid, owned and earned media.

Let’’s assume that your company and campaign value proposition, points of differentiation (positioning) message architecture, proof points, look and feel – your brand – is where it needs to be. (If it isn’t, then put your POE plan away and get your brand together.)

You probably have some assets that are already built that support your brand: company website, logo, elevator pitch, sales presentation, brochure, case studies and success stories etc. Since you already have an established look and feel, your job now is to extend it across all of the marketing communications assets that you’ll be using to execute your POE plan.

Let’’s also assume that you know your audience: how they’’re influenced and by whom, where and how they buy, their decision-making process, their shoe size and criminal record.

Here’s a summary of how we defined each type of online media and their roles:

POEclick to enlarge



Jeb Harrison
Jeb Harrison, after recently retiring from the IBM Marketing team, Jeb Harrison offers marketing communications consulting and writing services to businesses of all shapes and sizes. His long interdisciplinary career as an agency copywriter, creative director, company principal, marketing director, and integrated marketing communications manager has given him a unique and varied perspective on marketing communications in all it’s forms. Jeb is also a published novelist currently participating in the renowned Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Tacoma, WA, and is a sought-after bassist in his Marin County home. Be sure to visit Jeb’s blog on The Huffington Post and his own Adventures in Limboland blog, where limbo lessons are taught daily. He is married with two grown children and a ball-crazy dog and lives in Stinson Beach, California, about an hour north of the Golden Gate.

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