How to Use Paid Media in Your Communications ProgramThis week, on the Spin Sucks podcast, we’re talking about paid media.

Have you subscribed yet? If not, get on over there and get it done! We’ll wait.

Great! Now let’s get on to paid media.

When you tell people what you do, do they automatically ask if you create the Super Bowl ads?

Sure, that’s one part of advertising, but it’s not what communicators consider paid media.

The truth is, while most people have a Mad Men vision of what modern-day advertising looks like, it doesn’t always have to be that dramatic to reach your key audience or to drive results.

(Though it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring back three martini lunches.)

A strong communications plan based on the PESO model should understand the role and power of paid media.

It isn’t just for celebrities and social media giants: it can be harnessed at all levels of notoriety or fame.

Communicators Need to Test Paid Media

Paid media covers everything from sponsored tweets and Facebook posts, content syndication and distribution, to sponsored content in other media, as well as lead generation email campaigns.

If you’re paying to reach new audiences, a crucial aspect of communications, you’re executing a paid media program.

However, despite its importance (and visibility with consumers), paid media often gets overlooked in communications strategies. 

There’s a really common misunderstanding that it just isn’t an effective strategy unless you have a huge budget—and dedicated media buyers and an advertising agency at your service.

But that’s simply untrue.

For as little as $5 a day on each major social media platform, you can test Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

They each have their native advertising options, and they usually offer coupons for first-timers. 

You don’t want to put money behind every single piece of content you produce.

Instead look at the most popular piece of the month and amplify or sponsor that.

Test it once a month on each platform and see what happens.

It’s an inexpensive test, and once you show results you will quickly get additional budget to do more, we promise.

The CAB Method of Paid Media

In a recent blog post, I wrote about how much I liked Chris Smith’s approach in his book The Conversion Code, which he calls the CAB method: Create, Advertise, Blast.

Once you’ve created something, you need to advertise—and Facebook ads make it really easy.

If you use Facebook ads and they aren’t working for you, one of two things is wrong:

  1. Your ads and analytics aren’t tracking correctly (or you forgot to add it to the page; been there, done that); or
  2. The creative is wrong.

First, check the pixel. If it’s working correctly, it’s time to tweak your creative.

You don’t want to put money behind everything you produce, rather figure out what’s already popular this month and amplify that.

The very best way to test your social media advertising is to just do it. 

Speaking of The Conversion Code, I love the way it lays out how to do Facebook ads.

(If you haven’t read the book, I cannot recommend it more.)

The C3 Method of Paid Media

Smith calls it the C3 Method: content marketing, conversion marketing, closing marketing.

In the simplest of terms, the idea is that you boost your content (content marketing), then you create ads to drive to something people will download—such as a white paper, eBook, video series, or podcast (conversion marketing), and then you do ads the drive to a sale (closing marketing).

Let’s talk content marketing in-depth: as the name suggests, this one is all about content.

 Your content should provide value, give your audience something to think about, and encourage dialogue.

If your content does that, your audience will be back.

For example, we have a general PR audience made up of people who follow the industry trade publications and other industry blogs.

You tell Facebook who you want to reach and they make it possible.

A couple of weeks ago, we were at a friend’s house and we were talking about the Dyson hair dryer.

A girlfriend of mine does marketing for Dyson so I was asking her all about it.

I mean, for $400 I feel like the thing should do blow outs for me. I can just sit there and write while it does all the work for me.

When I got on my computer early Monday morning, there was an ad waiting for me…for the Dyson hair dryer.

Mind you, I wasn’t in my own home when we had this conversation.

But that’s where the magic happens.

If you visit a site on your phone or your computer, if you have Alexa at home, or even just have your phone within earshot, Big Brother is picking up what you’re putting down and you suddenly see ads for what you were interested in.

You Have to Guide People

It’s actually not as magical as it seems.

It’s because there is a pixel installed on those websites that allows them to “follow” you anywhere you go.

And you can do it, too!

Once you’ve had success with your content marketing ads, it’s time to retarget the people who visited your site with your lead magnets.

Your conversion marketing ads should lead to a landing page that requires an email address to download the content.

Anyone who has both clicked on your content marketing ads and downloaded your lead magnet are now warm leads.

They are ready to give you their money—and are waiting for you to tell them what they can buy!

This was actually a tough lesson for me to learn.

I figured if people wanted to buy something, they’d just visit the website and find something that suited them.

That’s just not the case.

Not only do they have to be told, but you also have to make it extremely easy for them.

Learn and Apply Paid Media

People are crazy busy, and the easier you can make it for them to buy from you, the more money you’ll be able to generate in revenue.

And it’s not just for consumer businesses, either.

In fact, in my experience, it almost works better for business-to-business.

But the point is that it’s OK for your closing marketing ads to sell.

By this point, you’ve built trust and authority, and people are ready to give you all of their money.

These ads can be anything that helps a person make a decision, and certainly depends on what you sell.

If you have a long sales cycle, you may have to lead with customer testimonials, then a demo, then a call with sales, and then a call-to-action ad.

If you sell software, you may have to lead with a demo, then a call with sales, and then a call-to-action ad.

The order of these steps is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but they DO work.

The Predictability of it All

Anyone can learn and apply paid media—if they’re willing to put in the time and the energy to do it right.

I’ll admit it’s one of my most favorite things to do because you have data to help you make decisions.

Data that tells a story.

And data that helps you predict sales and cash flow.

Those things are a business owner’s dream.

If you can harness paid media to report on how to predict sales and cash flow, you will always have a job. Always.

Watch our FREE masterclass and learn how to implement the PESO model to achieve unparalleled communications results. 

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Photo by Illia Cherednychenko on Unsplash

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.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich