Free media is almost entirely powered by the product (/value prop), not the marketing

Paid media by itself, in the absence of a good product, is colossally wasteful (Bloomberg 2020) or in the best case small percentage effective with fast decay (American Samoa 2020, and also your Media-Mix Models).

Paying online influencers – Instagram, Twitter – to shill in the political space is exactly as effective as it is for your business: Zilch. (Bloomberg 2020)


If your product is not already getting xx% of free media – thus proving the existence of a clear customer perceived value proposition – should you do any paid marketing at all?


At some level, you know this already.

Yet, every single day you are executing a Bloomberg 2020 strategy: Shout as loudly as you can, as frequently as you can, about your product (with no value proposition signal) in the hope that mere marketing frequency will ensure your product sells.


Here’s a reminder of a foundational truth:

For love, glory (and ROI)… Spend your precious paid marketing dollars ONLY after you detect that there is naturally occurring free media in the marketplace.

Your analytics team can help you understand if there is a naturally occurring free signal in the marketplace.

Because they are smart, they can also contextualize any free signals to avoid false ego-stroking. (Ex: There were 18,825 tweets about our product name, the average across our competitors in the same time period was 65 million.)

If your product is new, or you are in a new category, or if you are a tiny disruptive Unicorn no one has heard of, then you will want to ensure you have in-house skills to light the spark of free media.

Invest in Owned and Earned marketing first – both to get your product/service into the right hands (to validate a value prop) AND to earn your first non-employee 1,000 crazy fans.

IF that works… Uncork Paid Marketing.

Paid Marketing is a great amplifier. Paid Marketing is uniquely amazing at helping you get to scale. It is vital for any company to have this capability and expertise. I’m simply asking you to consider not Bloomberg 2020ing.

Here’s a bonus observation from my experience:

      Number of employees from High to Low: Owned, Earned, Paid.

      Size of budget from High to Low: Paid, Earned, Owned.

You can see the dramatic implications of that, and I suspect you realize just how wrong your current people and money investment is. 🙂

Bottom line: From a Jan 2019 tweet:

      Sucky product + Incredible marketing = Sucky results.

      Incredible product + Sucky marketing = Decent to great results.

      Incredible product + Incredible marketing
          = OMG! OMG! Of The HOOK!

      Real unidentified customer need + Incredible Product
          = “Our Marketing is spectacular, look at our great results!”

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