It’s 2015, the year of Marty McFly’s fateful leap into the future. And while hoverboards and trash-powered cars may still be a ways off, there is still much to be learned from a movie that’s twenty-six years old.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 9.56.02 AM

LESSON 1: It’s not new. Just make it YOURS.

Content marketing might *seem* like an idea as newfangled as a food hydrator, but it’s been around since the late 1890s, when John Deere published The Furrow, a magazine that educated folks on how to better manage their crops. If you’re just starting the content creation process, coming up with breakthrough ideas can seem daunting, but ultimately, you just need to be honest about your brand in a way that reflects a genuine POV.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 9.56.05 AM

LESSON 2: Technology is your friend.

Whether it’s adopting a strategy for wearables or working with a partner to serially distribute your content (ahem), you’ll need to adopt new solutions that can meet the needs of your evolving consumer while helping get the results you want. Thankfully, there are tools for almost every step   in the process of content creation, management,  curation, automation, optimization, promotion, listening and analysis.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 9.56.08 AM

LESSON 3: But no amount of technology can save a bad idea.

The temptation to “do something” on Tinder (or Ello or Yo or any hot, new, talk-worthy channel) may be strong, but if it’s not relevant for your brand or audience, it’s better left behind. A theme we’ve seen develop over the past year is the need to move beyond shiny objects to a more human approach. Virtual reality, 3D printing and connectivity may be alluring, but even a drone will nosedive if the idea behind it isn’t authentic and interesting.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 9.56.16 AM   

LESSON 4: Be a Marty, not a Biff.

Okay, so Marty *is* a bit of a wiseass, but he’s the hero. He’s allowed to have swag. So can your brand, if it’s part of your heritage and personality. However, being overly pushy or boastful will come over about as successfully as one of Biff’s one liners. Content doesn’t always have to be about your product (or even directly about your brand). A successful, modern connection requires conversation and letting go of the reins a bit, but always remaining respectful of your audience.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 9.56.19 AM

LESSON 5: Embrace the unexpected.

Even with digital reams of data about your consumer and the best laid strategy in place, marketing will always have an element of unpredictability. What’s more, your audience will continue to be enthralled with your story if they’re not quite sure where its headed. It’s our job as marketers to put in place sophisticated plans, calendars and measurement systems after content hits 88 MPH on the road so we can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Now that Nike has confirmed launch of Marty’s power-lacing sneakers from the film, we’re sure that this classic will continue to be celebrated and honored by both brands and consumers as the year progresses (and can’t wait to see what’s next).

Originally published on