Knowing how to build a fire is just as essential for survival in the online marketing world as it is in the wilderness. A blazing campfire provides warmth, light and a way to cook food. The fire you want to build online increases awareness and generates online leads.
To start a fire in the great outdoors, you typically need a match and strike board, a piece of flint and steel or a magnifying glass and the sun. In marketing, we consider having a well-defined brand and a strategic plan as the bare necessities to ignite the flame for your business.
Your audience needs to understand who you are as a company, what you stand for and why you’re in business. Without a well-thought-out brand, you run the risk of looking like and sounding like your competitors, and you will be stuck in a continuous lowest-price-wins battle. Without a strategic plan, you’re wandering through the wilderness battling the unexpected and rather than focusing on what you need to do to reach your goals.
No matter where you are, creating a flame can be a lot of hard work — and it’s all for naught if there is no tinder to catch the flame.
In digital marketing, your “tinder” would be your website. Your website is the hub, or the core of all your online marketing efforts. For your website to attract and retain traffic — or “catch fire” — it must be optimized for search engines, easy-to-use and appealing. Without a well-optimized and user-friendly website, you will end up rubbing two sticks together all night long with no results.
However, while tinder catches fire easily, the fire quickly dies out without added support.
When building a fire, you need materials that provide more substance than tinder provides to keep the flame burning long enough for your fuel wood to catch. This is where kindling comes in.
In marketing, you can use search engine optimization (SEO) and online advertising. When following best practices, SEO and online advertising can quickly and easily increase awareness and direct traffic to your website. Just as kindling must be dry to work, your website and online ads must be optimized with keywords to work.
The fuel wood might take a little longer to catch fire, but it is what ultimately keeps your fire hot and burning. And if you notice your fire is starting to die down, you can throw more fuel wood on top to keep it going. In marketing, fuel wood is a mix of owned and earned channels. Content marketing is one owned channel that can help “fuel the flame,” and it includes pieces such as white papers, case studies, e-books or webinars. Advertising such as print, TV or radio also add to the discussion, increase awareness and even drive website traffic. Additionally, email marketing can help nurture the fire and keep it going.
Public relations is one example of an earned “fuel” or channel. When your company receives media coverage from third-party sources, it helps boost your credibility and increase “buzz.” Word of mouth — whether it’s in person or online via social media — is also earned, and it can be a very powerful tool to build a blazing fire.
Building a fire is not as easy as it first appears. It involves a lot of knowledge, preparation, tools and hard work — similar to effective online marketing campaigns.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 26-year-old brand development, strategic and online marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.