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Tuesday 2¢ – Marketing YAGNI

You ain’t gonna need it this Tuesday, well that’s the theme as we spend 2¢ exploring the not so ancient art of Marketing YAGNI.


As is our habit in marketing, we nick stuff from other business disciplines to describe what we do. The most notable thing that we nicked from product development and bent to our needs was Agile.

Something maybe we didn’t need, as in my humble opinion and as I often rant about; I think done right, marketing is by its nature agile, and while I welcome folks that understand this and have methodologies to help marketers think that way, I don’t think it’s a different kind of marketing.

Speaking of things we didn’t need, in the pursuit of the discipline of simplifying marketing, I have been rummaging around in the development best practice acronym archive and discovered something useful from those crazy cool kids who promoted Extreme Programming (XP) back in the day.

I propose we breathe new life into YAGNI – You Ain’t Gonna Need It. Which, in the world of development back in the day “states a programmer should not add functionality until deemed necessary”.

I could have gone with the tried-and-tested, born in the 1960s US Navy, KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) for this post.

But I am not so keen on the “stupid” bit, partly because keeping things simple and investing a little bit more in the short term to favour long-term simplicity can be quite hard. And well, who wants to be called stupid?

To be honest, I spent a fruitless half-hour down a thesaurus rabbit hole trying to find an S that would keep the acronym without insulting anyone, which was beyond the 2¢ either of you or I wanted to invest in this post.

So, YAGNI.

I think it’s a phrase that could really catch on and who wouldn’t want to be a YAGNI Marketing practitioner; sounds cool right?

Let me give you an example. It’s a little bit techie, but it’s a good example of what happens when we don’t apply YAGNI to our marketing technology.

I am currently flitting between four different website implementations, three of them on WordPress. The simplest site, with just 4 pages (it was just one page when first got my hands on it) is, by far, the most complicated implementation.

The original developer decided to use a popular page builder plug-in, with additional plug-ins built on top of it. They then chucked caching plug-ins, security plug-ins, and all of the things he could find on top.

I can understand that short-term simplicity may have suggested this was the right approach. It’s easier for users to build pages with a page builder than to implement templates and CSS.

And if a component you want doesn’t exist in the library of the page builder, it’s easier to add another plug-in.

And, we assume that because a caching plug-in exists we need it, regardless of how simple the site is or how good the host is at doing those things. Caching is good, right? Security is good, right?

The problem is that this approach creates a complex dependency between the WordPress versions, the page builder code and all the other plug-ins and doohickeys that have been added that need to be maintained that feed from that.

It seems that every time I log into WordPress for this client, something needs updating in a web of dependencies that feels like touching one thing sets off a domino effect that could, briefly, bring the site down while you untangle the mess.

And it’s just 4 pages. Compared to the other sites, it’s a bugger to maintain.

Someone at the beginning should have said:

“You Ain’t Gonna Need It”

This is so true of us marketers. We get curious and implement tools, create reports, and commit to measurements and metrics because we can, and we get that short-term dopamine hit of something new and shiny without considering the long-term cost to maintain.

Without applying the wisdom of YAGNI.

“You Ain’t Gonna Need It”.

Will you?

Right, that’s my 2 cents for this week – I’m off to register the domains for the YAGNI Marketing Institute, create some YAGNI Ninja (YAGNInjas?) certification courses, the YAGNI conference, (can you imagine the merch?) and finally write that book….


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