The Illinois Rain Forest

Drilling 200 feet below the earth’s surface in Vermillion County, Illinois, coal miners found the remains of a 15-square mile fossilized rain forest. Estimated by the National Geographic Society as about three hundred million years old, the fossilization occurred when an earthquake pulled the forest below sea level and buried it in mud.  Yes, that’s right – a prehistoric, dramatic and devastating earthquake in Illinois, of all places.

Reading the story in an old issue of the New York Times set me to thinking about the “ancient history” items in my home and office – the broken tools, ill-fitting clothes, and old business books stuffed and forgotten in closets and drawers…

…and how the world changes. Earthquakes bury a rain forest in mud, technology alters the way we grow our food, and lightning-fast changes in the social and economic climate change the world of marketing.

There will always be reason to keep a sturdy hammer or a little black dress close at hand, but the profitability of marketing efforts changes incrementally, like a shoreline altered by the tide, or dramatically, like a rain forest buried by an earthquake. Successful marketing requires frequent, careful review and strategic change.

What worked when things were moving fast may not work at all in a slow economy. What attracted a buyer last year may be worn out and cliché today.

A “geological survey” of your content files may unearth timeless treasures, or a pile of worn-out tools and fossilized processes. What’s working for you? What’s not working? What needs to be changed?

The hardest part is putting aside emotional attachment, having a clear vision of your goal and an awareness of your options, and heaving what no longer serves you. Perhaps what once was diamonds has turned to dust – or maybe what you thought was a depleted coalmine is actually a lush rain forest.

Will you sing “I’m proud to be a coal miner’s daughter” while you work?