Overcoming Shiny Object Syndrome

by | Mar 21, 2017

What do you think your job really is as an entrepreneur? Managing a company’s finances is important, and so is finding the right people. What it really comes down to, though, is finding new opportunities.

Howard Schultz is a great example. As founder and CEO of Starbucks, Schultz took buying coffee to a whole new level. He focused on specialty drinks and creating a unique environment for coffee shops that was totally new. Customers go to Starbucks not just for their premium coffee, but for a homey, welcoming, relaxing atmosphere.

Always keep an eye out for new opportunities, but when it comes to marketing, beware of shiny object syndrome.

What Is Shiny Object Syndrome?

Shiny object syndrome is what happens when you’re walking down the street, and something shiny and distracting catches your eye.

shiny object syndrome

In a business sense, this refers to that same impulse to move on to the next big thing — often a new technology that’s just emerged. You see it, and you think you’ve found some sort of magic marketing bullet that’s going to help you hit the jackpot.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping an open mind. You should be willing to experiment with new strategies and tactics. After all, it can be just as risky to put all your eggs in one basket, especially when times are changing.

However, continuing to move on to new strategies at the expense of ones that work is a crazy habit. It’s one that only makes sense in the mind of a hungry entrepreneur.

Whether you’re a full-time marketer or you just wear the marketing hat on occasion, here are a few ways to help mitigate the damage of shiny object syndrome:

1) Devote Resources To New Opportunities

shiny object syndrome

There’s a compromise between never trying anything new and always jumping to the next thing, even while the tactics you have are getting results. That compromise is to have a dedicated individual or team that focuses on testing out those shiny marketing objects. Let them do the research and decide which ones are worth sticking with for the long term.

You’ll always have a core portion of your budget dedicated to proven marketing tactics, but you can also allocate a consistent share of the budget to testing. If the new strategy is wildly successful,  add it in or phase out a lower-performing core tactic and replace it with the new one. Otherwise, you can move on to another shiny object while your core marketing apparatus remains intact.

2) Remember The Purpose Of Marketing

shiny object syndrome

No matter how flashy that new tool is, the rules of marketing are still the same. You want to grab your audience’s attention, capture their interest, make them want what you’re offering, and spur them into action.

You also have to connect with your audience where they are. For instance, no matter how cool you think Snapchat is, you probably won’t find a lot of success with it if you’re targeting retirees.

Whatever the shiny object is, don’t treat your marketing as a technological gimmick. Remember to bring emotion into it, tell stories, and really engage your audience.

3) Stay Focused On A Vision Or Objective

shiny object syndrome

Not all marketing is created equal. Some strategies are better for lead generation. Others are better for getting people to make a purchase. Just like you need to match up your marketing tactics with where your customers are likely to be, you should also line up those tactics with a vision or objective.

If your goal is to increase top-line revenue, that’s a different focus than targeting new customers, growing market shares, or expanding your referral program. They may all be interconnected, but trying to pursue all of these goals at the same time could dilute and diffuse your efforts.

Make sure the new tactics you employ are related to a particular objective. If they’re not, you’ll be more likely to flounder around without consistent success.

Ultimately, the best way to make more money is often pretty boring, especially for entrepreneurs with shiny object syndrome. Sometimes, you come upon a strategy that works, and all you need to do is continue to execute it and make small tweaks to it here and there.

The timeless advice of failing fast continues to be true, but don’t be too quick to abandon something that’s working in favor of something that’s still untested.

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