Overwhelmed? Stop Chasing Bright Shiny Objects!

  • by , Featured Contributor, February 16, 2012

Many of us in the ad and media world have difficulty solving our fundamental problems because we get way too hung up chasing the latest bright shiny objects.

As our industry becomes increasingly disrupted by digital technology and fundamental changes in consumer behavior, our lives get harder and much more complex. Whose job today is simpler than it was five years ago? Not mine; not yours either, I suspect.

Unfortunately, all too often the strategies we choose to simplify our jobs and lives only make them more complicated. How many times have we seen folks trying to solve fundamental market problems by chasing what everyone else says is hot at the moment? How many marketers today are racing furiously to implement “a social media strategy” with little or no sense of what exactly they’re doing? And how many folks are only doing it because they are being inundated by colleagues’ and bosses’ requests to justify existing marketing and advertising tactics? Getting overwhelmed? Time to talk social media. (For the record, I am a big believer in the power of social media. I just think many folks are jumping into it without a strategy, many for the wrong reasons.)



Want an extreme example of when this approach can go wrong? The print industry in the late 1990s wanted a unique way to compete with the Internet and its interactivity. Remember the CueCat? (If you don’t, just Google it.) It was a bright shiny object (from the inventor of the Triple-Blade Wiper, no less) and, once it had industry buzz, lots of otherwise smart and reasonable media executives started drinking the Kool-Aid and jumped on board.

In my (cynical at the moment) opinion, here are some of the reasons why this happens:

-        It’s easier to chase the latest headlines than to develop and stick to a true long-term strategy.

-        You’re not likely to get covered in the trades if you’re doing the same old things.

-        You’re not likely to win industry awards if you’re doing the same old things.

-        We don’t want to be seen as out of step to our clients, partners and colleagues by rejecting an approach they think is cool.

-        We know that all too often it’s the sizzle that sells the steak.

-        It’s easy to let the pursuit perfect get in the way of just making things better.

-        What’s new makes better conversation at cocktail parties.

-        We still think that the ad business is all about a light bulb going off above our head.

What do you think? Do we spend too much time chasing bright shiny objects?

6 comments about "Overwhelmed? Stop Chasing Bright Shiny Objects!".
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  1. Betsy Kent from Be Visible Associates, February 17, 2012 at 6:43 a.m.

    Believe it or not, I remember the CueCat. I was in charge of setting it up for a Yellow Pages company where I was the Associate Publisher. And, yes, I thought it was cool.

    But cool doesn't trump success. Bright, shiny objects are appearing every day, especially with Social Media. Being able to identify which one is a good choice for each of my clients is challenging.

    Every day this week I've been contacted by a client about Pinterest. Especially if they look at their website analytics regularly. Yep, it's driving incredible traffic to their websites. But we have to step back and analyze. We need to make decisions carefully. Every platform and tactic requires planning, implementation, monitoring, etc. And...BUDGET!

    Thanks for the article.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 17, 2012 at 9:16 a.m.

    "Keep you eye on the ball, ear to the ground and shoulder to the wheel - now try to work in that position." The cacophony out there is blinding.

  3. Wendy Kane from Slumberland, February 17, 2012 at 9:39 a.m.

    Very well said. Bright Shiny Objects are great, but there is a time and place for them. What good is developing plans that a client, or ourselves for that matter, aren't following.

  4. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, February 17, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.

    Agree totally Dave. IMHO we all need to stop worrying about “where it’s going” in Social and start concentrating on “where it is.”

    I understand that with something moving as quickly as this social media wave, it is tempting to spend all our time focused on speculating about the future. Everyone wants to be out in front of the next big thing in Social and get their brand there first to be recognized as an innovator on the cutting edge… but at what cost? We still have current customers to serve and current strategies to implement, and quite honestly many of us still have a lot to learn about how to best use the current social media tools.

    We need to pay attention to NOW. Social media has finally been somewhat mainstream for long enough that companies are just starting to reap the benefits of the longer-term relationships they are building with consumers. Brand loyalty is growing as brands learn what their consumers REALLY want and how they want it – including their use of social media and the unique passion points in those mediums.

    Now that the initial novelty of social media use for business has settled down a bit, give yourselves and your consumers a chance to breathe and enjoy the Return on Relationship that you have spent the last few years building. There will always be a “next best thing” but your current customers are here NOW and need your attention NOW.

    If you really want to stand out and put your brand in a strong position for the future, keep your peripheral vision on the future, but keep your most direct, powerful focus on what is here now, today: your customers/shoppers???. Watch them, listen to them, and let them tell you when to move to that “next best thing.” In the meantime, remember, your customers are ALWAYS your next best thing – treat them that way.

  5. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., February 17, 2012 at 5:59 p.m.

    Two quotes from Adcontrarian (, Bob Hoffman:

    "There's no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he's missing a trend." And: "Nobody ever got famous predicting that things would stay pretty much the same." It's a lot easier to chase bright, shiny objects where nobody can prove whether you're right or wrong than it is to master an existing craft, where your work is subject to evaluation.

  6. Jason Krebs from Tenor/Google, February 17, 2012 at 11:19 p.m.

    I use my cue cat every it.

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