Gini Dietrich

The Executive’s Guide to the PESO Model: How It Works

By: Gini Dietrich | March 11, 2021 | 
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The Executive's Guide to the PESO Model: How It WorksThe PESO Model is more than just a pretty graphic and a list of tactics under each media type. When integrated and implemented correctly, it can be one of the most profitable investments for your business because it builds brand awareness and it generates qualified leads.

But it also is often mishandled, not implemented correctly, and not set up for business success, nor measured for organizational results. This is because many professionals still look at the PESO Model graphic and think, “Oh, this is easy! If I just add some social media advertising and influencer relations to my existing plan, I’ll have made it work.”

That’s not the case at all.

Because of this haphazard approach, we often hear executives say, “I spent a ton of money on communications and it didn’t work.” Or, “My marketing team can’t tell me how many qualified leads they’re generating and I don’t know how much of the budget we’re just lighting on fire.” Or (my favorite), “Hiring an agency is like donating money. You write them a check and they walk away.”

In this second of a seven-part series, learn the basics of the PESO Model, how it works and why, what benefits it offers to your business, how to make sure you or your team is implementing it correctly, and which tools you’ll need to use for lasting success.

Let’s get started!

How the PESO Model Works

The PESO Model has the potential to drive more qualified leads than any other marketing function. By some estimations, organic search is responsible for 53% of a website’s traffic. Certainly, search engine optimization contributes to that, but you can’t have SEO without owned media.

And, while the PESO Model acronym begins with paid media, in almost every case, you’d begin with owned media. You don’t, after all, have anything to share without owned media. Or anything to amplify or anything that will receive a third-party stamp of approval. And you don’t have anything to optimize.

There are some challenges with owned media, of course, in a world of information overload and misinformation, but when more of your website’s traffic will generate from it, it has more potential than any other tactic. And, when combined with the other media types in the PESO Model, it becomes a massive lead generator, as well as building brand awareness and keeping your business top-of-mind.

There are two sides of the PESO Model coin: organic and paid.

In the paid portion of the model (and it’s not just in paid media—you have to pay for things where the media types overlap, such as with email or influencer marketing), you pay for placement. You pay for reviews or top billing on Google or for the use of software.

In the organic portion of the model, you earn your search placement, your media mentions or stories, and some earned reviews and testimonials. To do this, you create relevant, high-quality, authoritative web pages. Or, in the words of Andy Crestodina, you create the very page on the internet for your topic.

And, while not exactly “free,” (you do have to pay to have the work done), and you have to spend time earning the exposure, it’s not as costly as paid media.

The Media Types Don’t Live In Silos

So why would you do both if it’s more cost-efficient to earn your exposure? Why is paid media even included in the PESO Model?

You can certainly do one of the media types on its own and have success. But when they’re integrated together, you earn the golden ticket while paying for access to the VIP section of the Willy Wonka Factory.

(That was a great analogy!)

According to the State of Search Behavior study from Moz, 62% of organic search results in a click.

And that increases when you use shared media to distribute the content and earned media to rubber-stamp it, and certainly paid media to amplify it. But the paid portion comes into play after you’ve earned your exposure and need to give your campaign an extra oomph.

It’s not enough to do owned media alone. It has to be integrated with the other media types to have the most success. It is, after all, a multi-channel world. When the media types are combined, you’ll reach your prospects and customers no matter where they are.

Remember the old adage that it took seven exposures for a person to make a decision to buy from a business? Today, that has increased exponentially. You literally need to be everywhere all at once. You want your competitors to think, “Man, I see them everywhere.”

The media types don’t live in silos. Neither do people. Brand recall is much stronger when a prospect or customer is exposed to you in various places.

A website visitor may convert on their first visit, but that’s because they read about you in a trade publication and then they saw you mentioned in a friend’s social media feed and then they saw an ad and then, when they Google’d you to read reviews, they saw all of the content you’ve created. Now they’re ready to buy.

That’s how the PESO Model works when implemented correctly.

Next in this series, we’ll look at how to harness the power of the PESO Model so you can begin to plan for effectiveness and results.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.