One of the amazing things that has happened since I got into advertising is the growth of "free" marketing opportunities available to organizations large and small. If you go back before online marketing and media, most businesses had very few options to get the word out besides paid placements with media gatekeepers who held the keys to reaching mass audiences and targeted groups. The means for mass communication was beyond the abilities of most organizations, and business for these gatekeepers was good.
Now, the proportion of "free" placements and tactics are gaining an ever-larger share of the marketing mix. You have SEO (define), social media marketing, house e-mail, blogs, RSS feeds - all these opportunities that get your brand and marketing materials posted to the Web and out to the public without any exchange of funds. Now, I say "free" because it does not include an insertion order or media dollars - what is not free is time. Whether a company outsources the management of these tactics or does them in house, there is of course a cost. So for the purpose of this column, "free" means "free of media dollars."
However, as media planner and buyers, should we be ignoring these opportunities when creating a plan just because no media dollars are being spent? Do we shy away from free placements? Of course not, we love them! We get free placements all the time, but we call them "value added." If a Web property said they owned a PowerPoint presentation section on their site and said you could place a presentation there as a value add, would you do it? Of course you would. Well, what do you think SlideShare is? So here's an idea - integrate things like SlideShare into your campaigns. Add a special section to your media plans and creative spec lists: "Free Placements for Campaign Materials." (Of course, in many places, such as our agency, much of this would be done in collaboration with our social media team.)
Just look at the opportunities to post creative and campaign materials as more value-added placements to your campaign to be trafficked and tracked like everything else. Below is a list of some of the things you can do to add more octane to your media campaign.
One important tactic before you start: create your own short URLs using your domain and redirect to a tracking link being used by your tracking system. That way you don't have to display long URLs in the links you place or use something strange like a bit.ly link. (I know this may be advanced technical/tracking stuff, so if you don't know what I'm talking about, ask your Web or media folks what I mean.)
As with all these lists I write, I'm sure I left a ton of stuff out - please comment on what I left out below!
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As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.
Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.