By Joe Pulizzi published December 16, 2009

Marketing Shoelaces

No one seems exactly sure when, but shoelaces became popular sometime in the 20th century to better tighten shoes, replacing buckles and buttons (which were slow and cumbersome).

Shoelaces are odd to me.  The technology exists today that we can manufacture any type of shoe, dress, casual or sport, without the need for shoelaces.  There is no need to tighten shoes, because the shoe itself can loosen or tighten, depending upon the need.  Take a shoe like this I just purchased from Sketchers.  I could wear this shoe for literally any situation. And no shoelaces.

But, millions of us still purchase and wear shoes with shoelaces. This is partly because of what our personal preferences are and partly because of what is available (and at the right price).

But mostly, we purchase shoes based on what we had before.  We like shoes we are used to.  We can handle a little change, but not too much.

The same goes for our marketing plans.

Do you know what the single biggest indicator of what will be in our marketing plans for 2010 or the next year or the year after?  What you did the previous year.

And, you have a lot working to make sure things stay the same:

  • Your agency and marketing partners don’t like change very much.  They will convince you to tweak, but not radically change.
  • A new plan means new convincing to higher ups.  Very challenging.
  • Finding new experts and partners takes time and resources.
  • The eternal thinking that buying IBM (insert tactic) never gets you fired (but in today’s world, I wouldn’t be so sure).

I Was in this Meeting

I’ve been in four companies in the last month where we were doing a mini-content audit (going through what was working and what isn’t working in their content strategies). At every company, we came to a marketing tactic – an enewsletter, a white paper program, a pr schedule, etc., where I asked what it was and why they were doing it.

The answer: because we did it last year, but not sure exactly what it’s doing.

Make the Promise

What are your marketing shoelaces?  What are those things that you are doing because you did them last year, or because that’s what your company is used to doing?

Make the promise to start fresh this year.  Focus on what’s working and what you can measure.  Focus on listening to your customers and stop listening to those people in your company that want to keep things exactly as they are.

Try some new shoes…you’ll be surprised at the outcome.


Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

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