Beware of “Shiny Object Syndrome” in Marketing

While every marketer is aware of – and presumably wary of – falling prey to “Shiny Object Syndrome,” inevitably you’ll encounter a C-level executive whose teen-aged child has evangelized the next must-have campaign approach, and you’ll need a ready answer to delay any rash decisions.

“Shouldn’t we be on Snapchat or TikTok? My daughter and her friends say Facebook is over. Why haven’t you guys suggested it yet?”

There are important reasons why Snapchat and TikTok may not be a viable channel for a particular brand’s communications – especially those who care about quantifiable ROI.

You know what you should do? You should wait, and watch. To create “viral-worthy” content is hard to do under normal circumstances: adding these high-end tools to current production plans is going to cost a fortune, and the ROI will be uncertain (likely non-existent). Even as a raft of lower-cost production tools readying for market makes it seem like a low-cost gamble, we still counsel caution.

You don’t want to wait? You want to BE a case study, not READ a case study? We admire your gumption. You’re eager to see what kind of drool-worthy next-generation content you could make that would get consumers gabbing with excitement about your chain of sandwich shops, or your large insurance corporation, your B2B networking gear, your (fill in the blank), etc.?

Okay. Just remember that no one is visiting the island you created in Second Life. Just make note of the fact that BMW did not continue to make A-list mini-movies (even though they mused about doing so). You want to be cool, innovative, groundbreaking? We want that for you, too. Just remember that cool people don’t consider ROI. The fiery bravado of trailblazers is often dampened when they wind up with retiring efforts that didn’t contribute to their goals.

This warning won’t ping the radar of those marketers with glorious aspirations – or for brands for whom ‘testing’ new communications tools and channels makes sense: they likely have enough money (and enough leash) to make some big bets and live with the consequences. There are brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Samsung, et al. who are known for throwing a lot of money at cool ideas. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they flounder.

For us, in some instances we’ll test. In others, we’ll brainstorm and let those ideas sit for a bit (a quarter, two, four?) and reevaluate. That’s the point at which to strike, if it makes sense for your business. When it comes to “flashy” marketing ideas, better to be the 2nd one down the trail than the guy sporting a quiversful of arrows in his back.

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