Mastering the PESO Model: A Rapid Introduction

Nov 15, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, especially digital marketing, businesses constantly strive to strike the perfect balance between various customer acquisition strategies. The PESO model—Paid, Earned, Owned, and Shared—provides a framework for managing these strategies, each playing a crucial role in building brand presence and driving results.

For almost 15 years I sold NewsMedia advertising for a living. Over that time there was an enormous shift from transactional to solutions as mass market platforms stopped fighting on reach and cost per thousand and started crafting multi-faceted campaigns using their full asset base for maximum engagement, the right frequency, and specific audience customisations rather than ‘spray and pray’.

Here at Inspike, we are in the process of developing a free course to help share the things we have learned both as buyers and sellers of advertising, builders of content solutions, recommenders of press releases, gatherers of referral advocates and user generated content contributors.

This short guide will give an introduction to the framework and how the 4 quadrants work together. If you are interested in finding out more, drop your details into the form and we will let you know as the units come available. 

Here we'll delve into the challenges businesses face in balancing their attention and investment across these strategies, identify the most sustainable approaches, and explore the best practices for maximising Return on Investment (ROI).

Balancing Act: Understanding the PESO Model

Businesses often find it challenging to allocate resources effectively across the PESO model. While paid strategies offer immediate results, earned strategies require time and relationship-building efforts. Owned and shared strategies involve nurturing and leveraging your brand assets and community and building out compelling stories. The difficulty lies in finding the right mix that aligns with business goals and resonates with the target audience.

The Sustainability Quotient: Which Strategies Stand the Test of Time?

Sustainability in marketing efforts is a key consideration for long-term success. Owned and shared  strategies tend to be the most sustainable with a medium level entry barrier, as they rely on building a strong brand foundation and fostering organic relationships. These approaches not only withstand changes in algorithms and advertising platforms but also contribute to brand loyalty and advocacy. Earned media, once thought leadership, go-to expert status or brand recognition ubiquity is achieved is a steady attention flow which is relatively unbreakable, even in crisis…but achieving that level is akin to BASE jumping from K2. Be realistic in your goals, consistent in your application, and unafraid to ask your loyal community for their support through actions.

Maximizing MER: Identifying the Best Strategies for Paid Advertising

When it comes to paid advertising, the focus shifts to maximising the Marketing Effectiveness Ratio (MER). Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is a critical metric here. Strategies such as targeted social media advertising and pay-per-click campaigns often yield high ROAS. Choosing between Google and Meta platforms depends on your audience and business objectives, with each offering unique advantages.

Leads vs. Site Traffic: Unravelling the Conundrum

Generating leads or driving site traffic is a perennial debate. The answer lies in aligning your strategy with business goals and being cognisant of your products’ ability to automate, or requirement for human touch. For B2B companies, lead generation might be the priority, while B2C companies may focus on driving website traffic. The key is understanding your audience and crafting a strategy that converts effectively.

Converting Leads to Customers: A Step-by-Step Process

Converting leads into customers requires a well-defined process. From personalised communication to targeted offers, businesses must create a seamless customer journey. Implementing marketing automation tools, coupled with data-driven insights, enhances the efficiency of lead nurturing and conversion. Never doubt the value of a good sales person, likewise with the value of investing in top of funnel leads with helpful guidance even if conversion isn’t imminent. Never underestimate the power of reciprocity.

Owned Media: Growing an Audience with Purchase Likelihood

Building and retaining an audience through owned media involves creating valuable content, establishing thought leadership, and consistently delivering quality information and education. Understanding purchase likelihood allows businesses to tailor content that resonates with their audience, fostering a deeper connection and increasing the likelihood of conversion. Once again, the law of reciprocity is in play – people don’t mind swapping their data for valuable, unique and timely content, especially in longform.

Shared Media: Advocacy and Endorsements

Turning customers into advocates is a powerful strategy for shared media. Encourage reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content (UGC). Social media contests and influencer partnerships can amplify your reach. Authenticity is key, ensuring that shared content aligns with your brand values and resonates with your audience.

Earned Media: Gaining Authority and Telling Your Story

Earning media coverage from authoritative sources involves crafting compelling narratives and building relationships with journalists and influencers. Press releases play a crucial role, but standing out requires a unique angle, impactful storytelling, and a clear value proposition. See also our blog on Awards Marketing HERE

Concentration by Business Stage: From Startup to Market Domination

Early Stage: Focus on building brand awareness through shared and owned media. Paid strategies can kickstart visibility, but organic growth is vital. Invest in storytelling and community engagement.

Growth Stage: Diversify efforts across all PESO elements, with a heavier emphasis on paid strategies for rapid expansion. Strengthen owned media and capitalise on earned media opportunities.

Maintenance and Market Share Phase: Prioritise sustainability through owned and earned strategies. Paid efforts can shift towards retargeting and refining target audiences. Leverage customer advocacy and consistently deliver high-quality content.

Navigating the PESO Landscape for Success

In the dynamic world of marketing, mastering the PESO model requires continuous adaptation and refinement. By understanding the strengths and challenges of each element, businesses can craft a holistic strategy that not only drives immediate results but also lays the foundation for sustainable, long-term success. As you navigate the PESO landscape, remember that the key lies in finding the right balance and staying attuned to the evolving needs of your audience and industry. Apply the design thinking principles of test, learn, refine, implement, repeat until your PESO model is humming and your sales funnel stuffed.


To learn more around short term and long term brand building effects, we highly recommend the almost two decade worth body of work on Marketing Effectiveness by Les Binet & Peter Field starting with the book The Long and the Short of it. For a 2018 synopsis from the Effie awards see here and also the now seminal book by University of South Australia Professor Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow.