How to Start A Fire: A Firewind Manifesto

by Jason Hackwith

Figure 1: The Organically-Driven Website

A good fire needs only a few things to get started: the right fuel, a good location, the right arrangement, and periodic tending and stoking with fresh fuel and oxygen.

FUEL: Your Big Idea

Before we can get anywhere, you have to find your big idea. Spend some time thinking about what you really need the website to do. What is your BIG WIN: the absolute best thing that could happen as a result of your website? What are you passionate about? What really gets your juices flowing? What fuels your creative drive? I'll meet with you in a free consultation so we can talk out your big idea.

1. Design and Development

And we're off! We receive your first website subscription payment or setup fee and get to work. We spend hours researching your big idea and checking out your competitors (so we can build a site that exceeds their influence) and custom design a website that meets your needs. Your domain name is registered, the back end is installed on your site, and all of the other technical details are taken care of. You'll see several proofs throughout the design process until the site is exactly how you want it, and then ultimately sign off on a working version of the site. The design & development phase ends, and your site is launched with accompanying marketing to help you hit the ground running.

Give up control and give it away.... The more you give your idea away, the more your company is going to be worth.
— Seth Godin

2. Rich Content Deployment with Social Media Cross-Pollination

Rich content is a term that you may have seen bandied around the web. It's become a buzzword, but a lot of people use the term without understanding exactly what it means. Rich content refers to valuable, usually free content that evokes an emotional response and generates interest. Rich content is the prize inside the cereal box. Its what makes you remarkable. Truly rich content causes your prospects, customers and clients to think to themselves, "Wow, I have it good. I can't believe that they're providing this for free!"

We'll spend time gathering up the best of what you have to offer during the design & development period so that from site launch, your site visitors have that 'wow moment' that causes them to want to come back. One of the best methods for setting up your initial 'wow moment' is by promoting the site launch date by attaching initial site registration to a very valuable burst of rich content (for example, giving something to the first 100 registered site visitors after site launch). Don't be afraid to go big!

After site launch, your responsibility is to continue to generate the great content that will keep people interested. If we did our job right, though, you should have a good idea by now what changes you may need to make to your workflow to keep your site updated. And from day one, your content will be automatically deployed to your social media channels so that you reach your audience where they are and draw them back to your website. All you have to worry about is posting to your website.

3. Consistent Change and Redeployment

This is where the rubber hits the road. Your commitment to updating your website regularly is absolutely key to this process. If you do not update your site, I guarantee that your site will suffer from static site syndrome just like any other old media website. It will take some work on your part, but the goal is that you're posting on what you're passionate about. Don't worry about writing an essay every time; write about what interests you, no matter how brief. Authenticity is much more important than length. Be yourself.

Many people get stuck in the 1-2-3's for what seems like an eternity. This is the most frustrating part of ignition, because it can often feel like you're spinning your wheels, or even like you're cranking the engine but it just won't turn over. Hang in there, because when the spark catches, it's a wild ride!

4. Organic Interest

Your first major turning point! You're starting to get your first registered site members and maybe a few likes for your Facebook page. They've responded to your rich content and your commitment to regular site updates by trusting you with a valid email address and a username. That's all they need to form that connection with you. They can optionally enter their full name if they want, but you have to keep this initial stage as easy as possible for them. Keep on keeping on with your site updates.

At this stage, you should start also seeing your website regularly appearing in Google searches. Your target keywords may not necessarily perform well yet, but if you're faithful in posting rich content to your site that contains the keywords that people are looking for, you should start seeing significant improvement.

Marketing by interrupting people isn’t cost-effective anymore. You can’t afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money. Instead, the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk.
— Seth Godin, "Tribes"

5. Organic Involvement

Now that you are starting to build a group of interested people, you are going to start the hard work of making these somewhat interested site members into Your People. You're building a Tribe. If you've never read "Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us" by Seth Godin, I highly recommend you do so. Seth does a great job explaining the core concepts involved, and the necessity for building your tribe.

I can also help you take it a step further than Seth by helping you identify your Core Idea Network (CIN) so that you can build your tribe in the most efficient manner from people who are already enthusiastic about what you do (they just haven't found you yet). Your website's main function is to help you get connected and stay connected with these people.

Keep it up with those site updates, use Constant Contact to send a newsletter stuffed with valuable rich content to your registered site members, and engage your people personally by responding to their comments in a timely and friendly manner, or chatting it up with them on your site forums if you have them. If they have good things to say about you and your products or services, ask them for their referral to their friends. If you have a storefront, don't let them leave your premises without knowing about your website and without giving them some rich content to motivate them to visit it. Whenever you see enthusiasm, capture it! Have them submit a testimony to the website. Be real and authentic, and stay away from glurgy sales pitches! Just be yourself.

6. Organic Action

Organic action is what happens when your Big Win meets Your People and has a love child. All of your hard work is starting to really pay off. Through your commitment to excellence both on and off your website, you've built trust, and Your People have responded. You've grown a group of People that are enthusiastic about what you do. They're not just cheerleaders, they are Your People. They are so enthusiastic to have found somebody who shares their passions, they act on their own. And this is what separates Organic Action from Organic Involvement. Organic Action is unsolicited by you. Your People are making the effort to engage with you without you first engaging with them. Their enthusiasm spills over onto your website in the form of great comments, testimonials, unsolicited recommendations to their friends, and user-generated rich content posted to your site (moderated by you, of course).

But that's only the start. Because the website makes it so easy for them to share your rich content, they post links to content on your site to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, or any of several hundred other social media sites. What was a nice little campfire among friends has now turned into a wildfire. Your People start finding more People for you, and your circle of influence continues to grow exponentially.

With all of these enthusiastic People posting about you on their websites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media centers, your position in Google searches for your target keywords will be improving all the time. As a result, you'll start seeing people who are passionate about the same things you are finding you in the most unusual of places. Don't be surprised if you get interest from places you never thought your influence would spread!

7. Organic Feedback: Fresh Oxygen

Now that you have cultivated real relationships with Your People, it's time to listen closely to them. Return their favor of trust in you by trusting them and showing them publicly that you trust them. Engage them with opportunities to have a voice in your business or organization. As you continue to build relationships with Your People, you may find natural leaders that you can trust. You can safely delegate specific responsibilities on your site to these leaders (like moderating forums, for example) while retaining complete control. You might even find potential employees or partners this way that are already enthusiastic about your business or organization!

Feedback further fuels the fire and pushes you back around into design & development again as you make adjustments to your site to meet changing climates of influence. The incredible momentum from Organic Action makes you even more enthusiastic about your Big Idea, which spurs you on to move around the circle again and again.

Organic Feedback also allows you to further center your site on the keywords that really matter and have been proven to really matter to the People who matter most. That continues to make you a dominating force in search engine listings for your target keywords. As you continue to be faithful in posting content to your site, you'll learn what works and what doesn't. And we're there with you every step of the way as your influence continues to grow.

Further Reading: