Lost and Found in the New Millennium
Imagine losing a city the size of Los Angeles. Or, just as remarkably in this day and age, finding one—complete with roads, reservoirs, seven-story-high structures, and entire neighborhoods.
Yet, here we are.
Just last year, using groundbreaking new laser-based technology known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), scientists discovered more than 60,000 ancient Mayan ruins comprising a sophisticated metropolis more expansive than L.A., hidden deep inside a Guatemalan rainforest.
To give you an idea of just how dense the rainforest is here, consider a team of archaeologists had been as close as twenty feet from the base of a seven-story-high pyramid, but walked right by it because of the impenetrable foliage. Ironically, Spanish conquistadors had made an identical oversight nearly 493 years earlier, having marched within just a few kilometers of the heart of the sprawling city in 1525, roughly 800 years from the Mayan capital’s most prosperous heyday (for unknown reasons, the empire rapidly collapsed just 100 years later).
Obviously, if a thriving civilization can disappear in a span of a hundred years, it goes without saying a couple of thousand years could easily erase every trace and accomplishment of an entire population.
But not so fast. It turns out it often takes less than even a generation to forget about some very substantial things. Take the Fink II.
Located on the banks of the Elbe river in the tiny fishing village of Finkenwerder, Germany, the Fink II was the largest submarine pen in Germany during World War II. As such, it was a frequent target of Allied bombing missions late in the war, yet survived relatively unscathed until well after the fall of the Nazis.
Ultimately, it took the victorious Allies more than 30 tons of hand-placed high explosives and leftover ordinance to blow the fortress into smithereens. The destruction of Fink II was captured in a British post-war propaganda video intended to show the Germans that things would be different under occupation.
Fast forward to 2002, when Airbus chose its plant in Finkenwerder for the installation of the major components of its new super jumbo A-380. Before the company could begin production of its state-of-the-art 853-seat behemoth, it first needed to extend the length of its runways to accommodate the much longer take off and landings of the super jumbo jet.
Everything was progressing just as planned, when excavation was brought to a halt by—you guessed it—the re-discovery of the oh-so-quickly-forgotten submarine pens of Fink II. Turns out, just like much of Finkenwerder’s war-time history, residents were eager to put that ugly chapter behind them. So much so, after the Allies bulldozed dirt and debris over the demolished pens, much to Airbus’ chagrin, the townspeople never gave the ruins another thought, and their existence quickly faded from memory. Today, a quick scan of the satellite imagery of the Airbus runway on Google Maps reveals what remains of the remains of Fink II, now a permanent memorial and a persistent reminder to Airbus of the headache they caused.
In 1985, not twenty miles away, a similar discovery was made in the heart of Hamburg, Germany. Three men entered a small opening in some rubble on the Hamburg waterfront, only to discover three of Nazi Germany’s most modern subs, each believed to have been lost at sea, sitting largely intact where they had been entombed following the war.
The find was so consequential, initially an effort was made to recover the only-of-their-kind historical relics; however, the demolished pens proved to be so unstable and dangerous, the attempt was abandoned. Instead, the city of Hamburg elected to convert the area, subs included, into a parking lot. Where, if history is any guide, in not too many years from now, the subs and the history they represent, will once again fade from our memories until some intrepid explorer discovers them anew.
Ironically, as the pace of technology quickens, discoveries like the long-lost city in Guatemala, the sub pens in Finkenwerder, and the U-boats in Hamburg are going to be increasingly common. But so, too, will the pace very important but less substantial things like your message—be forgotten. Which should serve as a pertinent reminder of the importance of making a conscious and continuous effort to remain relevant to your members. With the sheer volume of data inundating your intended audience, it has never been easier for your messaging to be obscured by all the overgrowth and your relevance lost forever.
But, just as LiDar allowed scientists to peer through a previously impenetrable rainforest in Guatemala to locate one of the most significant archaeological finds of this century, technology and razor-sharp messaging can help you cut through the clutter, too. The right messaging and delivery lets you hone in on, not just your membership, but promising prospects who may have wandered into the vicinity of your brand, but never realized the treasure lying just beyond the overgrowth.
Email Marketing Software (EMS) can help you not only capture the details of each visitor, unique and frequent, but also automate responses to ensure not a single prospect leaves empty handed. Try it, and I’m confident you’ll quickly find there was an advanced civilization out there all along—just waiting to be discovered.