Everything Old Is New Again

If there’s one thing marketers know for sure, it’s that people find new things exciting. It’s why at least every few months, one of the things you regularly buy will have a “New! Improved!” label slapped on the packaging. 

When you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, what do you ask them? Is it, “hey, tell me about everything in your life that hasn’t changed at all in the last three years?” Or is it, “hey, what’s new?”

But the paradoxical thing about it is, the best source for finding something new to include in your thought leadership content is often something old.

C.S. Lewis once talked about how “the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century lies where we have never suspected it. None of us can fully escape this blindness.” 

He went on to say, “The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”

C.S. Lewis was right. Old books help us correct the mistakes of our own era. It’s not so much that people back then were smarter than we are now, although I think that’s true in some areas. 

It’s that they didn’t make the mistakes we make. And, to be fair, we sometimes are not making their mistakes. So like with all of history, you have to take the good and leave the bad in the past.

Lewis prescribed reading one old book for every two or three modern books you read, and I think that’s a good idea.

In spite of all of our natural fascination with newness, one of the harder lessons I’ve had to learn is that marketing, just like thought leadership, is not the search for the new. It’s the search for the proven.

So as strange as it may sound, the best way to keep your thought leadership material interesting is to provide new information from old sources. You’ll surprised at how effective this is. And it’s easier than you think.

This tip concludes the week of making your stuff cool. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you.

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