When I was a first-grader, I was fascinated when my teacher told us that the most stable stool has three legs.  A two-legged stool will fall over, and four-legged stools sometimes wobble. But a three-legged stool will always have all three legs on the ground.

Inbound marketing reminds me of that three-legged stool.  A digital marketing program needs at least three sturdy legs – each of equal “length” or importance – in order to support a company.

Invisiible stool

Leg #1.   Website. Even for “brick and mortar” companies, the website is their virtual storefront (or virtual headquarters).  With all of the technology changes, and changes in the way people wish to interact with websites, companies that have not upgraded their sites within the past year or two may be losing customers.  For example, if a company’s site is not mobile-friendly, does not open quickly, and has not replaced older coding technology (e.g.  Flash), an ever-increasing segment of customers and potential customers will at best think the company is not up-to-date, and at worst, just go to the next site. Also, if the site has not been well-optimized for the new Google guidelines, it may not show up in Google searches.

Leg #2.  Social Media.  Like it or not, more and more consumers expect to be able to interact with companies on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  Facebook’s new Open Graph encourages FB fans to search for companies that their friends like. And although Google+ may not be as social as the others, not having a presence on G+ will impact SEO.  (With Google Places gone, a presence on Google+ is necessary for local businesses, who want to be on the “map.”)  Finally, Google admits “social signals” have a positive impact on search engine results.

Leg #3.   Supplemental Content.   While the main component of websites and Social posts is content, consumers seem to want more (and so do search engines).  Email, newsletters and press releases are all examples of supplemental content and have a place in this category. However, having an informative and entertaining blog, updated regularly, may be the most important thing a company can do – both in terms of speaking to their target markets and increasing their exposure on search engines. 

three-legged

Put your stool on marketing steroids! 

I believe that having the above three “legs” is necessary. However, in order to make the “stool” stronger, there have to be connections among them.  For example, Website links should be on each blog post and blogs should have a link back to the home page of the website. Social buttons should be displayed on the website and the blog. Social sharing buttons should be visible on all blog posts. Finally, every website update and blog post should be posted to every social site.

It is amazing how many companies are relying on one or two “legs” to support their companies.

Do you have another analogy that fits this topic better?