Shiny Object Syndrome: Why Too Much of a Good Thing Is Bad

Marketing has undergone a major revolution in the last 15-20 years. The advent of the World Wide Web and its mind-boggling growth as a commercial medium, as well as the overwhelming popularity of smartphones and tablets, has opened up many exciting opportunities for marketers like you and me.

But along with all of these exciting developments and possibilities, a lot of hype bordering on hysteria has emerged. In recent years, a lot of unwary marketers have fallen prey to an insidious phenomenon – the “shiny object”. For the purposes of this article, the shiny object is any technological innovation that marketers flock to in hopes it will, by itself, bring them the marketing success they crave.

Many business owners and marketing professionals have pinned their hopes on various shiny objects, vainly wishing they could offer a solution to all of their customer attraction problems. In the process, they ignore proven, timeless principles that have helped many marketers succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

Social Media Isn’t the Only Shiny Object

When we think of modern marketing phenomena, the one that immediately comes to mind is social media. And social media is a very popular choice for those looking for a marketing “quick fix” or “magic bullet”. But many marketing tech innovations, or to quote legendary marketer Dan Kennedy, “digital doohickeys” have attained shiny object status in the digital marketing world.

Here’s a partial list:

  • Social media
  • SEO/SEM
  • Mobile marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Email newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Landing pages


”Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” -
Sun Tzu

I’m not saying these marketing tools don’t have solid potential in the right situation. I’m not saying to categorically ditch them. But I am saying that none of them is a complete marketing solution on their own.

Each one has the potential to be a very useful tool, but they need to be integrated with other tools. They need to be used according to a carefully crafted strategy aligned to each company’s specific situation and goals.

Warning: Marketing is Not a Function of Technology

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of marketing as only a function of technology. With all the focus in today’s business world on big data, marketing automation and the myriad of tech tools available to help marketers do their jobs more effectively, this is an easy trap to fall into.

But if you approach marketing from this mindset, your efforts are likely to fall flat because, in marketing, you are dealing with people, and people have emotions. Their emotions influence their buying decisions, whether you are marketing baby accessories to new moms or petroleum products to manufacturers.

Not only do your customers make buying decisions with a largely emotional mindset, they also engage with and respond to marketing messages that influence their emotions (one reason storytelling is such a powerful marketing tool). If you treat marketing only as a function of technology, your lead generation and nurturing efforts won’t win your prospects’ hearts and minds.

Another warning: Don’t Be A Laggard

Something else to keep in mind: as you’re diligently avoiding shiny object syndrome, don’t let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction. Don’t categorically reject any tool unless you are absolutely confident it will be of little or no use to you.

Indeed, you should harness the power of technological innovation to help make your efforts more successful. Use the tech tools that will help you enjoy the results you want.

Use social media to gain attention, build your brand and drive traffic to your website. Use email marketing to gain more website traffic, keep your brand in the forefront of your readers’ minds and drive sales. Use video to capture and keep your audience’s attention in a fresh, interesting way. And use targeted landing pages to remove distractions and increase your conversion rates.

As marketers, we have a mind-numbing number of golden opportunities in front of us, but we have to act wisely. We have to avoid the urge to invest all of our marketing hopes and dreams (and budgets) in the shiny object. Instead, collectively embrace all of the tools required to help us reach the results we want.

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