It's the glue that binds us.
A couple of weekends ago I found myself sitting around the table with my wife and our two closest friends doing arts n' crafts. I am 35 years old, a dad with 3 kids spanning 1 and 14 years, and none of them were present for this. As a disclaimer, my wife and I haven't been all that social since our most recent arrived (as is usually the case with new babies), but these friends also had a baby within two weeks of ours (and yes, it WAS planned that way!), so our bar-hopping days have evolved to... well... arts n' crafts... with beer.
So, here we are on a Saturday night, with our youngest kids in bed, and somehow we found ourselves assembling gift bags, banners, and various eyeballs for my son's Monster's Inc themed 1st birthday party - which involved construction paper, Elmer's glue, and a lot of cutting.
About halfway through I noticed my friend had slowed down, distracted by something on his wrist. Upon further investigation, I realized he had poured glue on it, and was trying to hold his hand still while it dried, so he could peel it off and have fake skin to play with. It's something I hadn't seen in probably 25 years, when I was in elementary school, doing the exact same thing... 4 States away.
Of course, I had to ask where he learned how to do that, and he said, just like me, that it's something he remembered doing in elementary school. I was intrigued, so I turned to my wife and asked her if that's something she remembered doing as a kid as well, and her response was, "of course!" Now I was totally in awe, because she grew up in Colombia - moved to California in her teens, but remembers doing it when she was a little girl, also in elementary school. My buddy's wife also remembers doing it, and she's younger than the rest of us by 6-9 years.
So, here we are, 4 adults, with 4 completely different upbringings, values, and parents, separated by nearly a decade, hundreds and thousands of miles, with different climates and cultures, and with one of us even growing up on a separate continent... and we ALL had this exact same childhood experience where we poured Elmer's glue on our wrists, spread it out with our fingers, waited for it to dry, then peeled it off to play with it like it were skin.
Sure enough, my oldest kids remember doing this while THEY were in elementary school 20 years after the rest of us!
So, how did this happen, and what does it mean? I know my parents didn't teach me this behavior. It's something I did in school, and did my best to hide from my teachers. THEY didn't want us wasting the glue like that, so I didn't learn it from any of them. So, is there any explanation beyond, "it's just the kind of thing that kids do?"
Well, that, my friends, is what fascinated me the most, and it sent me on a deep thought excursion that led me to thinking about my agency. I have mentioned the value of evergreen marketing before on past blog posts, and I talk about it all the time with my prospective clients when assessing their marketing needs, but it was in this moment where it became so clear to me why evergreen marketing is... well... evergreen.
What an inspiration for my next blog post!
So, without further delay, here are 4 other childhood memories that we most likely share, paired with ways to make your marketing stand the test of time. To make it evergreen.
1. Least Objectionable Programming
I had a teacher in high school (RIP, my good man) who taught the concept of "least objectionable programming," which meant that we will sit in front of a TV and waste our evening watching shows that are just "okay," because there was "nothing better on." Of course, there were no DVRs or TIVOs back then... But even still - it's something we do a lot in life, actually - with our choices in entertainment & food, the people we associate with, and the jobs we take.
One of my older kids has been spending too much time on her phone and ipad and the family laptop, which we've taken swift action on recently, limiting her to two hours a day for the entire summer. Believe me, she's not happy with us, but we don't want her wasting her most formative years living through technology when there are so many great, tangible experiences to be had.
After the delivery of this news and about an hour or so of arguing, pleading, and silent treatment, our daughter went to bed, and my wife and I settled into a conversation about her childhood, as she experienced something quite similar and spent those years buried in TV. We didn't have smart phones or tablets or even internet, but she still managed to live the same experiences as her daughter would be 20 years into the future.
And they were both just as sneaky about it. My wife used to pour water on the back of the TV to cool it down before her mom came home from work. My daughter slipped into our room and grabbed her ipad minutes after storming off, because she thought nobody was looking. But I was - and she wasn't happy about that either.
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I remember doing the same thing too, especially during the summer. It was Rocky and Bullwinkle, BeetleJuice, Heathcliff, and a few other gems in the morning, and as it got later, they were replaced by Ricki Lake, then reruns of Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, and (cringe) 9 to 5. As the day went on, the programming worsened (for me), but I stuck with it - as did my wife - as does my daughter, only with social media, YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat.
When businesses come to me asking for help with their organic marketing it's usually because they're really behind the 8-ball on it. Their websites, even in the days where they were more in line with the design and techological trends of the times, are typically challenging to navigate or understand. They passed the test when they were originally built because the internet wasn't nearly as crowded, the standards were... different... and by just posting a site of any kind, they were 10 steps ahead of the competition.
Now, to be clear, there is no 1 fix resolution for your website. Evergreen here means you're updating it and keeping it fresh - not just once every 15 years, but every single month. You want to rank for your precious keywords don't you? Then you cannot let it lie static and expect your 20 pages to elevate you. I'm seeing a lot more companies realize this, and after they go through their major overhauls, they incorporate things like blog writing services and an active SEO strategy.
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Okay, maybe parents are a little to blame for this one - spreading around the idea that kids of the opposite sex have cooties. Although I wasn't responsible for planting the idea into their heads, I know I had no problem letting my daughters think they existed when they were in elementary school.
Now, "cooties" has gone through several iterations since the term was coined literally 100 years ago, but the concept was always similar in nature, and I think the same rings true with certain types of marketing practices. Sure, spamming works to some degree, but it's icky, and it's something we try to rid ourselves of, not bury ourselves in. Like many variations of cooties, which referred to lice, we are becoming more vigilant as consumers in eradicating them when they invade our personal space.
Your evergreen marketing should be free of cooties.
3. The Itsy Bitsy Spider
This one is DEFINITELY on the parents. It's a fun song for kids, because they like the spider gestures and easy to remember lyrics, although my family constantly struggles with whether it's "climbed the water spout," or "went up the water spout."
I love it when my 1 year old tries to do the spider hand-action, so I sing it to him all the time. But there are others... The wheels on the bus, row, row, row your boat, and a whole library of songs I remember hearing as a small child, singing to my little sister, and now to my own kids.
What I've realized is that even though I've heard them a million times, there are still people who NEVER have - like my son before the age of 2 months - and for them, they're still quite captivating (I'll get him on Radiohead and Muse when he's ready).
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Your customers may find you when their level of sophistication about the problems you solve is still quite rough, and although you've explained your stance on a particular subject a million times, it may be their first time receiving it, so don't discount the value of educational content that speaks to buyers very early in their quest for solving their problems.
Evergreen marketing doesn't mean the same piece of content is going to push the same buyer through all of the different stages of their journey, but rather, that it will connect with those at a particular moment in time. It's our job as marketers to move them to the next piece of content that takes them a step further.
This is why blogs are so great. You don't have to capture EVERYBODY with each post.
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4. Hiding Candy Wrappers
Hiding candy wrappers is all about short-term gains. The kids know they aren't allowed to eat candy whenever they want, otherwise all they would ever eat is candy. But that isn't going to stop them from trying. My wife remembers telling me about how she would stuff her empties in her pillow case. I would hide them in my sock drawer.
We didn't want to use the trash, because mom was in our rooms every day, and the trash was right out there in the open - a dead giveaway. So, we found the nooks and crannies that bought us the most time, and hid them there... often times forgetting to sneak them to the kitchen trash when nobody was looking, which meant we were always outed at one point or another. I didn't do my own laundry, after all.
My daughters like to hide candy in all of the usual places - between the mattress and box spring, in their pockets or backpacks - even the drawers in their bathroom.
With marketing, people often seek that immediate gratification and try to hide the evidence. This is why we ended up with so many link farms and websites with stuffed keywords before Panda and Penguin did their things... and it's why those guys are always grounded now. They didn't follow the rules, and now their SEO games that once put them on top are the root cause of penalties being imposed by the major search engines, which are enforcing reductions in traffic of more than 90%.
Evergreen marketing chooses the healthier option - meaning, the spinach salad mom is always pushing on us. Now, as an adult, I really enjoy spinach salads, both in taste, and the way they make me feel. They keep me full longer than junk food, and the energy is 10 times as strong and sustainable.
This is why you should make your website eat more spinach.
I've referred to Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends and Influence People several times in the past. It was originally published in 1936, and teaches us how to get more by asking for less - by being genuine and true, and being amicable, without being a pushover.
80 years ago we had no internet, and computers were science fiction, yet what Dale wrote about human connection remains just as true in today's digital world as it did immediately after the Great Depression. These are evergreen concepts that resonate with both sales AND marketing, and will continue to do so for 80 years into the future and then some, because we can't just clap our hands and expect human nature to stand on its head because we put up a sign that says we're in business.
We need more than that. We need connection - real human connection - even if it's automated, online, or behind a corporate logo.
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