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What is Owned Marketing? The #1 Secret of Effective Promotion

What is Owned Marketing? The #1 Secret of Effective Promotion

‘What is Owned Marketing?’ I wanted to answer this question as it is obvious that small and medium businesses, in particular, need to take more ownership and control over the future of their businesses and their marketing considering the times we live in.

So what is Owned Marketing? Owned Marketing consists of marketing and sales strategies and tactics that are focused on your customers and makes use of your own brand channels, known as owned media, which are under your control. These channels include your websites, landing pages, blog, email, SMS, mobile applications and social pages.

The hallmark of Owned Marketing is that you are in control of your marketing and have little to no reliance on third parties. Investing in Owned Marketing allows you to establish long term relationships with your customers and clients and thus benefit from repeat business and recurring revenues.

The Problem with the Typical Definition of Owned Marketing

Now the above explanation of ‘what is owned marketing?’ is how most articles on the subject will describe the term. But there is one small problem – I would say it is a big problem – which you may have already noticed.

Your company’s social network pages and profiles are not actually under your control. 

I believe you need to invest in Owned Marketing as a way to reduce your reliance on not only advertising but also social media platforms. I am not saying don’t use advertising and social media. What I am saying is in order to have less reliance on them you need to use them to build your own ability to promote separately from them.

In the early days of social networking, social media was like a gold mine for businesses of all sizes but especially small businesses. Organic reach was high and you could build an audience and then communicate with them without having to pay.

Social media marketing helped to reduce both the need for and the costs associated with advertising.

That is until the social networks became advertising platforms themselves.

Once social media networks became advertising platforms, free organic reach, especially on Facebook all but dried up. Building and communicating with an audience now requires advertising spend which is becoming more costly.

Additionally, social networks are becoming both more restrictive and more complex when it comes to running ad campaigns and as such you the advertiser, have even less control. Privacy concerns are also impacting how ads are delivered and Apple’s new iOS 14.5 updates will have a definite impact on Facebook ads.

Right, with that out of the way, let us get into what Owned Marketing is all about…

A Deep Dive into Owned Marketing

Owned Marketing is a way for you to take back control over your marketing without having to rely solely on advertising from Google, Social Networks and other third party channels that you have no control over.

Owned Marketing is a way for you to take back control over your marketing without having to rely solely on advertising.

Is Owned Marketing just Old School Marketing?

The term ‘marketing’ has over the years been complicated by many new catchphrases devised by marketers to sell you on their particular marketing approach.

Today we have terms like Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Paid Marketing, Earned Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing and the list goes on.

Broadly speaking, Marketing is simply the process of conceptualising and creating a product or service, packaging it desirably, and placing it in front of your target market in such a way as to generate the maximum potential sales.

All other types of marketing are just tactics that come under the heading of Promotion, which is all about making your products well known and well thought of.

Owned Marketing then is simply getting back to fundamental marketing principles. I will cover some of these principles later in this article. The natural laws or principles of marketing are the same very same ones old school marketers have used since people began to trade and sell goods.

Owned Marketing is about re-establishing control over your marketing to safeguard your business’s revenue, ensure survival and ongoing expansion. It is about taking more responsibility – – being at cause ‘response’ ‘ability’ – for your marketing rather than passing responsibility and control into the hands of others.

This is not to say you cannot or should not make use of third party marketing assistance and advertising, far from it. It is simply about having more control and ownership of your marketing and being more self-sufficient and if you happen to reduce your marketing costs at the same time well then that’s the cherry on top.

What is the Difference between Owned Marketing and other forms of ‘Marketing’ Promotion?

Earlier I mentioned several other forms of marketing like Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Paid Marketing, etc. These are just promotional tactics and should come under the heading of Promotion rather than marketing.

Do you recall how I defined marketing earlier? It is all about creating a product, packaging it and finding the right market for it.

To be successful at marketing, you have to Promote. 

When you start to look at the other so-called forms of marketing as mentioned above you realise that they are all about promoting rather than creating the product, packaging it and finding the market.

For example, let us look at social media ‘marketing’…

Whether you engage in paid social campaigns or you are relying on influencers – paid or otherwise – to spread your message more organically, you have to have content. This content is made up of ads, images, memes, videos, download offers and a wide range of largely visual designs in different media formats.

What are you trying to achieve with this content? Product promotion? Brand awareness? eCommerce Sales? Traffic to your website? More ‘likes’ on your social pages? Grow an email database?

The obvious answer is, ‘all of the above.’ However, all these goals fit the definition of Promotion rather than Marketing. 

Redefining Owned Marketing – A More Workable Definition

Now that we know the difference between Owned Marketing and Promotion we can better define what Owned Marketing really is.

Owned Marketing is not a type of marketing, nor is it a promotional tactic. 

Owned Marketing –  a classification of the promotional tactics you can employ that are owned by you or to a large degree under your control.

Examples of Owned Marketing include:

  • Email Campaigns
  • Informational Products
  • Internal Advertising
  • Websites, Landing Pages, Blogs
  • eCommerce & Sales Funnels
  • Podcasting
  • Webinars & Events
  • SMS Campaigns
  • Phone Sales
  • Direct Mail Campaigns

Why Owned Marketing is the Best Way for you to Grow your Business

Why Owned Marketing is the Best Way for you to Grow your Business

What is the Goal of Owned Marketing?

Ultimately, the goal of Owned Marketing is to get your products into the hands of your customers, get paid and thus have a viable and expanding business while reducing your reliance on promotional tactics that you have only a small amount of control over.

What are the Benefits of Owned Marketing?

The benefits of Owned Marketing are not complicated. 

More Control – Gain the ability to create higher quality customer experiences that are more relevant to your customers.

Cut through the Noise – When you can successfully utilise your ‘owned’ channels you can put your brand and message front and center and reduce or eliminate, the visibility of other brands, and the distractions commonly found on social networks and third-party platforms.

Reduce Costs – Email, SMS and internal advertising are far more cost-effective than reliance on paid advertising whether on Google Search, publisher websites or social networks. 

Reduced Risks –  Too heavy a reliance on paid advertising is dangerous to the survival of your business. If advertising costs increase too much you may have to cut back, when you cut back your revenue is cut back making it harder to pay for the ads you need. If the ad platform changes its policies or decides certain types of products can no longer be advertised then you are in trouble.

Build Customer Relationships – Have you ever tried to build a relationship with someone whose attention is all over the place? Social networks and publishing platforms are very noisy places and there is also ways another post, another video, another advert. Leveraging your website, blog, email, publications, etc. allows your customers to focus on your brand and your message and if you are in turn focused on your customers’ needs and desires then you can build loyalty and longevity. 

Where do all the Promotional Marketing Tactics fit in?

This is a good question, considering I am advocating for less reliance on third party advertising and complex social media marketing campaigns.

Nonetheless, there is a definite place for third-party platforms and advertising and promotional tactics that give you limited control.

It all comes down to how you use these other channels to strengthen your Owned Marketing rather than weakening it.

If you are going to use third-party advertising and promotions make sure it results in growing your prospecting and customer databases.

What do you need to Implement Owned Marketing?

Owned Marketing starts with your customers and what you know about them, their needs and wants. If your customer and prospecting databases are small then your focus needs to be on growing them hard and fast.

It is interesting to note, that the biggest and most successful companies on the planet all have massive customer and user databases. Think Google, Facebook, Amazon, Cellular Networks, banks, etc.

If you are still paying to rent their databases rather than building your own then you are throwing away revenue and your reliance on them puts your business at risk.

So what are some of the basics of strengthening your Owned Marketing efforts?

Owned Marketing Best Practices & Principles

Owned Marketing best practices are really about applying a number of the key basics of Promotion.

Without going into the full details of Promotion here, some key actions that form part of Owned Marketing best practices include:

Collection – You must collect identities. This means collecting the names and contact details of customers and prospects. You must collect data in the form of customer needs, wants, pain points, etc. You must measure and collect performance insights from your websites, campaigns and the market in which you operate. The data you collect must be analysed to inform your communications strategies.

Communication – Understanding your customers’ needs, desires and expectations require a high degree of communication. Your communication must be clear, frequent and targeted to create exceptional experiences that are relevant to your customers.

Differentiation – You need to stand out from your competitors. Your brand needs to rise out of obscurity and be top of mind. While the quality of your products and services are important it is the amount of attention you receive that determines your revenue. The best in an industry can be outsold by the best known in an industry!

Legislation – Privacy legislation is part and parcel of today’s Digital Age. Numerous laws have been enacted by countries around the world to safeguard people’s privacy. Regardless of whether these laws actually improve privacy or whether they simply add additional administrative burdens, especially for small businesses, it is a must to comply with them as far as possible to safeguard your business. POPIA, GDPR, CCPA, etc. all regulate how you collect, manage and dispose of personally identifiable information and thus have to be taken into account.


Owned Marketing and the building of greater self-reliance for entrepreneurs and SMEs is a keen interest of mine. With events in 2020 and 2021 showing just how fragile businesses can be it is important to take steps to build greater resilience and survivability in our businesses.

But let us face it, most of us business owners would like to do more than just survive. Wouldn’t you rather thrive? Putting the right tools and systems in place to ensure you can own your marketing is what SME Rocket is all about.

Our vision is to help your vision become a reality. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for new articles as we explore Owned Marketing and related topics in more detail. 

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