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How to Compete in a Data-Driven World

Last week, we covered how the FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) have created massively profitable and scalable businesses by creating “Walled Gardens” to understand, predict and deliver what consumers want. We also touched on how communications companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are pursuing their own Walled Garden Strategy by acquiring the missing content and data assets to compete with the FAANG companies.

You don’t have to be a multi-billion-dollar corporation to learn from and use this strategy in your own business. Organizations can break this Walled Garden concept down into three strategic areas – Access, Content, and Data, to maximize customer engagement, knowledge and satisfaction in order to grow lasting relationships and value. Today, we’ll focus on four categories of Access strategies.


Access Strategies

Your Walled Garden starts with an access strategy through which you can deliver content and utility to your customers and prospects, and also gain insight into their needs, interaction behaviors, wants and satisfaction. An access strategy cannot rely just on your website or customer portal or any specific channel. Rather, you need to enable your customers to interact with you on the multiple platforms in which they are most comfortable using. The good news is that you don’t have to build all of these platforms yourself. It’s helpful to understand these platforms in four basic categories: paid, earned, leveraged, and owned channels. Each will play a different but complementary role in building out your content and data strategies. Knowing the difference between each type and understanding how they intertwine are critical to the success of your garden.

  1. Paid media refers to paid or sponsored advertising on traditional and digital media channels that aid in promoting your branded products and services. The goal is to gain exposure and deliver meaningful content to customers and prospects on the right platforms. The beauty of today’s programmatic advertising marketplace is the ability to tightly define and target very specific audiences based on demographics, personas, behaviors and contexts, including moments of truth when and where a transaction is about to take place.
  2. Earned media refers to getting your brand stories visible on independent news and information platforms. Your goal is to ensure that your brand’s point of view and relevant stories and information are captured and relayed by other parties to audiences you care about. Success in this arena is based on the quality and relevance of your content to information-seeking audiences. Sponsoring studies, sharing real human interest stories related to your brand, or taking a position on an issue are some of the ways to gain visibility.  One recent example is Nike’s new campaign which features Colin Kaepernick. The news value of the campaign far exceeded the investment in the paid media campaign. While it may have alienated certain customer segments who protested the campaign, excellent sales results demonstrate that the campaign was commercially successful.
  3. Leveraged media refers to open social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, which enable you to create a branded presence and engage with audiences in one-way and two-way communications. While you can advertise on the platforms today, you should first seek to have a relevant presence with content that edifies your network. These channels are useful in generating conversations, collaborations, and content-sharing to amplify quality content that advances knowledge, insight and action. Don’t just think about the global social platforms, though. Your managed social content and engagement strategy should consider industry and professional associations, non-profit coalitions, and even local chambers of commerce. Seek a consistent and meaningful role as a part of the fabric of society.
  4. Owned media is any content that your business is in complete control of beyond your website(s). This may include original content on blogs, videos, and podcasts, or customer databases used for pushing out information to various networks. The overall goal of owned media is to continue providing constructive content as customers move down your platforms, but not in a completely promotional manner. Your owned media should offer greater insight into your company and provide valuable messages for your audience.


I recommend that all marketers regularly assess their Access strategy based on these four categories of media. Next week, we’ll address content strategies in our data-driven world.



Marketing Agency Blog Post Author of How to Compete in a Data-Driven World

September 19, 2018
Written by Tom Sullivan

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