We often think of San Francisco as the home of the newest and best technology. However, it’s also a place where old school, handcrafted tools are used and respected. Take, for instance, the SF Fire Department ladders:

Ladder Shop for SFFD via AdamKaplan

Building wooden ladders for 21st century firefighting? On the face of it, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, in San Francisco, where ladder trucks can’t access many streets, electric wires are strung in the air, and a stiff breeze comes off the bay, aluminum ladders don’t do the trick. On the contrary, wooden ladders, heavy enough to stand the wind and non-conducting for electricity, make a ton of sense. And since the ladders are handcrafted, some of them are over 100 years old.

Likewise, we hear a lot of talk in social media about how Facebook or Twitter (or both) campaigns are the answers to all marketing questions, online or offline. While we should be big proponents of those tools, we need to also realize that nothing beats a bespoke, sustainable marketing strategy. We should look at all the available online and offline options, tailored to individual situations. This usually involves light, flexible email and social media tactics, combined with offline, “old school” marketing, like handouts, advertising, and face-to-face interactions. The end goal: to have movements, not campaigns, that endure and stay relevant to your communities.

So what is the lesson? Maybe we, as innovators and users of the latest and greatest tools, shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to traditional methods. Maybe we should look to combine the best of both worlds. Sleek new fire trucks with 100 year old ladders? Makes total sense to us. What do you think?

Next week, Cameron will continue our fire-fighting theme, so stay tuned by subscribing to our RSS feed.