About The Author
Amanda O'Brien

In her role as VP of Strategy, Amanda is responsible for driving strategic thinking on behalf of Phase 3 clients. She works closely with members of Phase 3’s multidisciplinary team to build effective marketing strategies and develop strong and uniquely identifiable brands. Relentlessly curious with a perpetual love of learning, Amanda has immersed herself in a wide variety of industries, from road technology and real estate development to diamond jewelry and dental insurance. Both a writer and visual thinker, Amanda has a knack for distilling complex challenges into simple and powerful ideas.

What If You Lost Your #1 Marketing Channel?

By Amanda O'Brien
December 08, 2022


Here's a question for you. Would you build your only warehouse or storefront on land you did not own? In most cases, the answer would be no. So why would you build your only digital brand presence on a channel you don't own? This, unfortunately, happens all of the time.

Recently, there has been a lot of angst among brands with a significant presence on specific social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. These channels are not what you would call stable in either service delivery or business practices right now. Consequently, brands that rely on these channels for marketing and sales are scrambling to engage with customers in other ways. In the most extreme cases, the future of their business is in jeopardy. Why? Because they built their online brand presence on "rented land."   


The Concept of Building a Brand on Rented Land 

One of the first people to make this "rented land" analogy as a strategic warning was Wired founder John Battelle in 2014. Others like Robert Rose have echoed the warning periodically since then. We expect the outcry to become even louder as more digital channels evolve.  


Rented land is any digital platform you do not own. You are on rented land if your brand relies on a channel's algorithm to deliver your content to your intended audience. Rented land is a social media platform like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube. You are also renting digital land at podcast providers like Apple Podcasts or long-form content providers like Medium. You could also include e-commerce platforms like Etsy and eBay as rented land. These channels control the presentation and distribution of your content.  


The Risks of Building a Brand on Rented Land 

When you place your company's resources of budget, time, talent, and brand assets on "rented land," you risk that entire investment on a platform where you have no say on its business practices or its future. At the very least, you risk missing customers or potential leads because they are not included in the platform's distribution algorithm. It's no secret that most platforms prioritize posts from brands that pay for advertising. For example, the average organic reach of a Facebook post was only about 5.20% of your audience in 2020 and it’s been declining ever since 


But the risk doesn't stop there. As we saw during the recent Instagram outage, your company may risk losing customers or online sales if your profile is suddenly suspended or deleted without notice. In addition, there have been nightmarish predictions of entire channel audiences deleted by channel updates or of platforms dissolving overnight. What would your brand lose if that happened to one of your channels? Would you be able to recover?  


The Importance of a Diversified Marketing Strategy 

Let's get one thing straight. We are not saying to pull the plug on your digital media channels. On the contrary, social media is critical to almost every business's marketing strategy. It is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to find new customers and engage with existing customers. In addition, e-commerce platforms are critical to building sales for emerging DTC brands. However, marketing on rented digital land should never be your only strategy.  


Just as a diversified product mix can enhance your company's profitability, a diversified marketing strategy increases your brand awareness. It also reduces your risk of losing marketing reach. A diversified marketing strategy means spreading your marketing investment over a strategic mix of traditional and digital marketing channels and tactics.  


What Does a Diversified Marketing Strategy Look Like? 

There is no one way to build a diversified marketing strategy. The best strategy depends on your brand, budget, goals, and audience. In general, a diversified marketing strategy deploys all the available marketing channels your target audience uses within your budget. These channels could include:  

  • Organic social media 
  • SEO 
  • Email  
  • Paid traditional advertising (OOHO, print, television, radio) 
  • Paid digital advertising (social media, display, search, video) 
  • Public relations and other earned media 
  • Website and other owned digital channels
  • Direct mail 
  • In-store marketing 
  • Event marketing/sponsorships
  • Sales Promotions
  • Influencers/Word of mouth marketing 

When you use a diversified marketing strategy, you do not rely on one certain channel or platform. Instead, you spread your resources across the channels that make sense for your brand.  


This approach allows you to drive people from your "rented" channels to your "owned" channels (like your website or your store locations) to engage with your brand there. It also affords your company cover should one of those non-owned digital channels go away suddenly. You can maintain your online presence while shifting resources from the lost channel.  


A diversified marketing strategy doesn't mean that you need to create an entirely different marketing campaign for each channel. Instead, the best diversified marketing plans deploy an integrated marketing approach.  


An Integrated Marketing Approach 

HubSpot defines integrated marketing as “aligning the primary brand message delivered through all marketing channels and assets." In other words, every campaign on every channel is consistent and brand-right. That way, no matter where your audience sees your marketing, they recognize it as yours and feel engaged. Integrated marketing builds trust and top-of-mind awareness. Streamlining your marketing and advertising needs also saves you time and money.  


Research has shown that while 50% of marketers use both digital and non-digital channels, only 13% have integrated their marketing. The brands with integrated campaigns were more than twice as likely to report increased marketing results than those using less integration on fewer channels.  


Integrated marketing ensures that your customers see and understand your brand's messaging, which leads to greater brand awareness, increased sales, and a better return on your investment. Don’t build your best marketing strategies on rented land when you could optimize your brand reach and budget through diversified integrated marketing.  


Developing a Diversified Integrated Marketing Strategy 

If you are worried about the future of your digital channels or just want to leverage a more strategic approach to marketing, now is the time to build a diversified marketing strategy. Phase 3's marketing strategists have extensive experience developing diversified marketing plans for businesses of any size and scale. We use a methodology called Plan-On-A-Page to create a marketing plan that strategically delivers your business goals in a measurable way through a mix of marketing tactics. Our planning process results in a marketing plan that is simple, visual, and easy to understand. It's also a valuable tool to align leadership to your vision. If you'd like more information about our diversified marketing approach, contact us today for a consultation.