Marketers love chasing the shiny new thing. It seems like every week, we learn about a new technology, social network, or media platform that promises to be the next big idea in marketing.
We sometimes get so enamored by the shiny new thing that we forget the fundamentals that the business goals come first. The shiny objects that we come across are only worthwhile in terms of whether and how they enable us to reach those business goals. The value is in what the shiny new thing enables, not the shiny new thing itself.
Last year, a marketing friend was asked, “What’s your Snapchat strategy?” Not only did the question automatically assume that Snapchat was a fit for the brand, the question implied that the brand would develop a new strategy for Snapchat rather than ask how Snapchat could enable or amplify the brand’s existing strategy. The question put the cart before the horse.
Any successful marketing program takes sustained energy and commitment. The cost of perpetually chasing the shiny new thing hits all of the other priorities that have to be put on the back burner to make room for the shiny new thing. If we try to do everything, we won’t do anything particularly well.
Of course, brands can’t stay static and our best laid marketing plans have to be adaptable. It makes sense to assess new marketing opportunities as they come along. But we have to keep that exploration in context. There are no magic bullets in marketing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how marketers should navigate the shiny new things that come along.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
11 CommentsJoin the Discussion
The inherent issue is that, as humans, we are always looking for the new, exciting, different, stimulating experience which draws our attention. The downside is that after a consumer gets over the initial buzz, they still have to decide if there is a fit. That is why year 2-3 sales are the better predictor of sustained performance. The hardest part for any brand manager is going to be getting past the idea that new = better. R&D often gets demonized for being the project killer, but I find that they are often the best sounding board for whether a product will fizzle. Even if you opt away from R&D, a non-biased opinion is a big help. It gets away from the buzz and energy of the moment.
It’s good to have a culture of experimentation. I worry that the Shiny Objects argument will just give fuel to those who are averse to change. Maybe Snapchat isn’t a fit for the brand but it is part of the landscape of how our culture is changing. A good marketer will be intrigued by it and hopefully give it a try and at least consider how it could move the needle of customer/consumer engagement.
I agree that you can’t totally discourage marketeers away from the new ‘shiny thing’, especially when we also live in a world where clients/ brands find it hard to try anything new or take risks. The worse scenario is where the new ‘shiny thing’ is a knee-jerk reaction to inactivity/ excess budget that doesn’t know how to be allocated. Navigating away from the wrong ‘shiny things’ take a lot of earned trust between brands and marketeers, and trust that is built on the fact that trying new ‘shiny things’ aren’t necessarily going to result in success, but also that you’re taking calculated decisions based on experience – or you accept that you may be failing fast and hard. Marketeers should not capitalise on this – give your best advice and earn trust before having fun with the next ‘shiny thing’.
Our company purchased a shiny new marketing automation system — one of the fancier brand names at that time and it ended up acting simply as a email marketing tool for the first three years while the company sorted out all of the content/messaging/branding issues that should have been sorted out prior. Without those in place, there was nothing to feed the automation engine. Some platforms just don’t make sense for B to B companies. Some newbies think just because they are on Facebook all day long, their B to B customers act the same. Truly NOT the case. You are so correct, there are no magic bullets in marketing and getting the mix right is a delicate balancing act between the ‘tried and true’ — and keeping up with where our prospects/ customers really go to for their buying insights.
Ori Pomerantz says
One of the reasons shiny new things look so good is that they typically have a marketing team pushing them. You need to look past the marketing to see the reality.
This can be pretty maddening in an agency environment. There have been a few times where we could tell the marketing folks from two or three different clients all went to the same conference and heard the same talk/session that inspired them into action the following week.
I laughed so hard I spilled coffee all over the latest “shiny new” project on my desk! As a marketer dealing directly with customers & sales teams my life is filled to the brim with squirrels; some are beautiful, creative, intelligent squirrels while some are 3-legged, crazy-eyed zombie squirrels looking to steal your life force. I think it helps to be welcoming of all squirrels but use humor & a kind hand to move the zombie squirrels on to another home. That’s why I love Tom’s work, how could you have a bad day when it starts with a post like today’s!
Tracy Carlson says
What a great cartoon and post! There have always been shiny, new objects in marketing, and marketers have traditionally been interested in what’s cool/leading edge, but somehow it seems that tactics have gotten firmly elevated to “strategies” in the past decade or so. Perhaps this change is fueled by society’s obsession with technology or the personal interest marketers take in social media. Who knows? For perspective, it’s worth thinking about “shiny” things of yesteryear. Would marketers have really asked/been asked “What’s your 800-number strategy?” The real issue is a bit deeper: not how can you steal some fleeting attention, but how can your brand connect meaningfully with your consumers?
Shiny new things have long been the downfall of marketing. Over the years, we’ve traditionally seen many passing fads derail – look, squirrel!
Have a background in technology – and know whether a shiny new thing is viable for the long term and will have user impact. Facebook, yes. Snapchat, no.
Hi Tom. Great topic for marketers and solid insight (as always!). Funnily, I wrote a post around the same lines and same time about what I call “The Leaf Blower Effect”. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaf-blower-effect-guillaume-rigal
It seems we, humans or at least marketers, are wired to crave shiny new things (what I call the leaf blower) and want to adopt it, even when there is no sound reasoning or benefit to do so (i.e. a broom usually suffice to discard leaves).
So, yes, we must be discerning with innovations and recognize if and when to adopts new tactics.