We all have things in our life that, according to best practices, should absolutely not work but somehow still do. In fact, they not only work – in some cases they help us to be the best versions of ourselves. Let’s maybe call them “idiosyncratic practices”.
For me, it’s the fact that I don’t have a car. I live in Los Angeles – the car capital of the world. And even though my wife has a car, it should absolutely be a huge challenge for us to have one car.
But it’s not.
There are universally shared versions of Idiosyncratic Practices as well. There’s a concept called percussive maintenance. This is the idea that when one of your electronic devices is acting up, a quick smack to the back of it can generally bring it back to life. There’s absolutely no reason why this should work.
But somehow it does.
In my work with clients, I see versions of idiosyncratic marketing practices all the time. There’s the content marketing team of 10 where every single person on the team, including the CMO, reviews every piece of content that goes out the door. It should be a huge bottleneck for them. It’s not.
Then there is the blog team at a B2B Technology company that has eschewed all forms of SEO best practices, and still manages to exponentially grow their subscribed audience in a mostly organic fashion. And then there is the huge B2C company that has never had any real presence on Social Media, and still manages to have most of their content shared regularly.
We read about all the best practices to approach content marketing daily. But I have never met a company, successful or otherwise, that even tries to meet them all. Once I understand a company’s process for their content strategy one of the first questions I ask is “what’s NOT broken”. The last thing I want to do is come in and try to fix something that may, at the surface, look like a flaw in their operation -when in actuality it’s one of their bigger strengths.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t ever press, or stress test those idiosyncratic practices. I revisit whether or not I should actually get a car every year. The content marketing team I mentioned above is actually now growing to the point where having everyone review content isn’t necessary.
One of the best lessons we can learn about “best practices” is that they are a starting point, not an end point. Our mileage on any approach may not be the same as our peers. The same goes in reviewing our idiosyncratic practices. We should be willing to look at why “that’s the way it’s always been done.” But we should also realize that it’s not always right to change “the way it’s always been done”. It might be a great, and idiosyncratic practice. It shouldn’t work. But it just does.
It’s Your Story. Tell It Well.