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?