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Which Marketing Communications Model Should You Choose? The PESO Model and Nice Model make developing a marketing communications strategy less overwhelming and more successful for small businesses.

By Susan Gunelius

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Alistair Berg | Getty Images

A small business marketing communications strategy doesn't have to be complex and overwhelming. In fact, many of the most successful strategies are very simple. At the heart of every marketing communications strategy is a single goal -- to increase brand awareness and recognition in order to drive sales and revenue. However, there are many ways to reach that goal.

Related: 9 Low-Budget Marketing Strategies Every Startup Can Afford

To make things easier for you, start by understanding two simple approaches to marketing communications: the PESO Model and the NICE Model.

The PESO Model

The PESO Model was pioneered by marketing and public relations expert Gini Dietrich as a call to action for PR professionals to move away from their dependence on traditional media buys in print, broadcast, radio and digital. With the rise in content marketing, inbound marketing and social media marketing, the PESO Model gained traction quickly and has become a cornerstone of many companies' marketing communications strategies.

In simplest terms, the PESO Model allows you to separate the content and communications you create into media buckets that align with all of the available marketing channels. The PESO Model enables you to better integrate your marketing efforts by identifying opportunities and gaps.

Related: 3 Hot Marketing Trends You Need to Try Now

The four media buckets of the PESO Model are as follows:

Paid media
Paid media includes social media ads, sponsored content, pay-per-click ads and any other online content and ads that are paid for.

Earned media
Earned media is any content about your brand, product or service that was created by someone else such as media coverage, quotes in articles, interviews, social media mentions, reviews and other online content that references your brand, product, or service that you didn't create or pay for.

Shared media
Shared media refers to anything related to social media that hasn't been paid for.

Owned media
Owned media is content created, owned and controlled by you such as your website, blog, email marketing, online presentations, online videos, ebooks, white papers, your social media content and so on.

Related: 5 Ways to Get to the Heart of Emotional Marketing

Each of the four media buckets has its own strengths and weaknesses, which is why they work better together than they do separately. By organizing your marketing communications and content into these four media buckets, you can build a marketing program that is scalable, affordable and meets your long-term and short-term objectives. In short, the PESO Model is very effective in surrounding consumers with your brand, which is a critical component of brand growth.

The NICE Model

The NICE Model is my own term for aligning your marketing and communications strategy with the buyer journey. It's not a groundbreaking concept. I just gave it a name that makes sense for entrepreneurs.

The goal of this model is to ensure you're producing the right content for the right audience at the right time. Rather than relying on where and how content is published as is the basis for the PESO Model, the NICE Model focuses on who, when and why.

Related: 4 Marketing Strategies You Can Use Before Hiring an Agency

By prioritizing who you're communicating with, when you're communicating with them and why you're communicating with them, you can create more effective messages that motivate your audience to take your desired actions.

The four steps of the NICE Model are as follows:

The first step of the NICE Model is to acquire new audience members. You want to get new people into the top of your marketing funnel, so they become aware of your brand and recognize it. You can do this with search engine optimization, search engine marketing, advertising, lead magnets, social media, content publishing and blogger outreach.

Next, you need to continue pushing people through the funnel so they convert by taking your desired action. That means you need to interest them in your product or service. This isn't a once and done thing. It's a process. In fact, it's a process that could take minutes, days, weeks, months or longer depending on your business's sales cycle. It's essential that you pique your audience's interest and keep them interested after your initial interaction. You can do this with email marketing, personalized content, blogging, guest blogging, video content, ebooks, infographics and more. The goal is to produce content that matches the right buyer personas.

At any moment, you could have different groups of people or individuals at any stage of the buyer's journey. Some might be nearly ready to buy while others might just be starting their research. Ideally, you should create content for all of them in order to continue pushing them through their individual campaign funnels as well as your overall marketing funnel. Remarketing and retargeting are extremely effective in this step. Create automated marketing campaigns, personalized campaigns and highly targeted content. Also, do A/B split tests to maximize your return on investment.

Once an audience member takes action and converts, your job isn't over. In order to develop brand loyalty, repeat purchases and word-of-mouth marketing that leads to even more new audience members and customers, you need to engage with your audience on an ongoing basis. Email marketing, social media, educational content and special, targeted promotions work well to maintain engagement.

Related: 4 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Startups

Which marketing communications model is right for you?

The most successful marketing communications strategy combines a model that focuses on where and how with a model that focuses on who, when and why. Just like a journalist has to answer the five key who, when, where, why and how questions when writing an article in order to tell the full story succinctly, you need to answer those questions to implement a comprehensive marketing communications strategy.

In other words, combining the PESO Model and the NICE Model ensures you develop a complete marketing communications strategy. However, don't let yourself get overwhelmed. Use the models as a roadmap, so you don't miss important pieces of the puzzle and go completely off track. You'll end up wasting time and money if you get sidetracked. Instead, follow the models to optimize your results.

Susan Gunelius

Marketing, Branding, Copywriting, Email and Social Media Expert

Susan Gunelius is CEO of KeySplash Creative Inc., a marketing communications and strategic branding company. She has authored a dozen books about marketing, branding, social media, copywriting and technology and is the founder and editor in chief of, a blog for business women.

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