The Internet Marketing Challenge: How To Avoid Your “Ooooh, Shiny!” Moment And Stay Focused On Results

The Internet Marketing Challenge: How To Avoid Your "Ooooh, Shiny!" Moment And Stay Focused On Results

You need an email list. And a Facebook page. You’d better be on Twitter. And how’s your blog? If you’re a local business, you have to run Foursquare deals. If you’re any business, you’ve probably run AdWords. Are you behind the QR curve? Don’t worry, MVS is on the way.

Stressed yet? Don’t be. I haven’t even mentioned Tumblr or Pinterest, StumbleUpon or LinkedIn, Google+ or link building. Now  you should be getting a little stressed. You could start drinking early but you’d probably miss the next craze, rage and must-do.

Beware The Marketing Riptide

If this all sounds a little crazy and mind-boggling, it is. Let’s not kid ourselves and think that there’s an easy solution or that things are going to slow down, calm down and let us catch up. Long gone are the days when a business owner or marketer could package a SWOT analysis into a 90 day plan and call it a day. Lately, unless your marketing plan is measured in 90 minute increments, you’ve probably missed something.

But until technology invents the 400 hour day or the magically replenishing budget, you’re never going to be able to do it all.

And while it’s wonderful to have so many ways to reach our customers, so many options and avenues at our disposal, so many exciting opportunities and new things to try, unless you’re focused on what works and what doesn’t, you’re going to get caught in the endless riptide of a rapidly evolving marketplace, fighting to stay on top of every little change, and eventually you’re just going to drown.

Stop. And Breathe.

I want you to step off the ledge, put down the martini and listen to what I’m about to say.

You don’t need a Facebook page.

Stop wasting your time on Twitter.

QR codes are stupid.

Step away from the Pinterest board.

Whatever shiny object has your attention at the moment, whatever you’ve read/heard/been convinced that you need if you want to run a successful business, I want you to forget about it and think about this instead: what’s making you money?

If this doesn’t apply to you – if you’ve got all the time and all the budget in the world to throw at new ideas, fads and opportunities just to see what sticks and what doesn’t, you can stop reading right now and go pin that picture of a cute cat to your “My Favorite Things” board in an attempt at personal branding.

But if you’re like most of us, bombarded daily by a stack of gurus and know-it-alls who want you to get rich now, fast, simply by applying their three secret tips… if the word “engage” can still make you cringe…  if you just never understood the benefit of speaking in 140 character snippets… if the thought of setting up a Google+ profile gives you a little twitch in your left eye… stick around and let me tell you why you shouldn’t be doing all those things.

Before I get too comfortable telling you what not to do, here’s a quick mea culpa: as a marketer, I can get just as swept up in the fascination of a new idea or new opportunity. Start throwing statistics around like “Pinterest increased traffic to my site by 25% in one week!” and I’m quickly adjusting marketing programs to include 30 minutes of pinning every morning.

But what if that doesn’t work for you? What if, instead of increasing traffic by 25%, you’re just decreasing the time you have to invest in other marketing by 25%? That’s why it’s crucial that you recognize what works – and what’s just another shiny object that’s being passed around by self-proclaimed experts as the next crown jewel in your marketing arsenal.

Why “Ooooh, Shiny” Moments Are Bad News For Your Jewelry, Your Person, And Your Marketing

The animal kingdom is full of examples about attraction to shiny objects. Ostriches will peck curiously at shiny objects on the ground. Crows will abscond with your jewelry or coins if you leave them in an accessible place (sunbathers beware!) If you’re not careful, you might be mistaken for lunch if you dive while wearing a watch in barracuda infested waters.

The very idea has given birth to a plethora of “shiny object marketing” strategies that will tell you how to capitalize on this phenomenon by turning your product or service into the shiny object that other people want.

But when it comes to marketing your business, getting distracted by the hottest, newest, shiniest trend can end up costing you time and money without measurable return. That’s why, before you get overwhelmed by options and feel pressured to jump on the next bandwagon, I want you to stop, take a breath, and proceed with care, caution and purpose.

The Importance Of Staying Focused In An Increasingly Shiny World

True story. I have a client who was ready to jump on the social media bandwagon and pay me a lot of money to help them do it. They wanted a Facebook page and a Twitter account, email campaigns and blog posts, plus whatever other bells and whistles I could throw on.

They had heard that social media was super important, that all their competitors had a social media presence and they knew it was time for them to do it, too.

I thought of all the shiny objects that their budget would help me buy… and then I asked them who their customers are. Where their customers are. What their customers want.

The answers were “a very specific market segment”, “I don’t know”, and “I don’t know”, respectively.

So we sat down and did an analysis of their existing customer base and through a series of interviews and surveys we discovered that exactly zero percent used Twitter, a marginal amount used Facebook and only for catching up with their grandmothers, but over 90% of them used LinkedIn regularly.

Along with other useful information, I was able to talk my client off the social media ledge and save them a lot of wasted time and money on marketing that was not likely to hit any  target, let alone theirs. Instead, we refocused both time and budget on channels and options that had a lot more potential.

I want you to take this to heart. It’s a lot smarter to sit down and evaluate the merits of a particular strategy than it is to spend time and money doing it and then repenting later.

As you plan to expand your marketing into the next best and greatest thing, take some time to think about whether it can be beneficial to your business. I don’t care how many articles you read about engaging with your customers, providing great service or being the “face” of the company.

If it doesn’t make sense for your industry, your business and your goals – stop and walk away.

PS: I looked up all my client’s competitors and they did indeed have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. The most popular of which maxed out at 14 fans and was used approximately 3 months ago. Guess who had followed the shiny object down the rabbit hole?

How To Tell if You’re Trying A New Idea Or Just Getting Distracted

“That’s all well and good!” you may be thinking. “But how the heck do I know what to try and what not to try?”

If marketing were that easy there would be no shiny objects… but here are some questions you can ask yourself before you add another fad into your repertoire.

Has my marketing flatlined and left me wondering, “Now what?” If you’re stuck and are looking for a little jolt, the latest hot thing might be just what the doctor ordered. So go ahead and give Twitter a try. Pin a couple of photos. You never know what might hit. In a nutshell, something new could inject your marketing with the little extra boost it needs.

Do I have enough time to invest in implementing, testing and measuring the results of a new idea? Even if you think a new idea would be great for your business, you have to be realistic about whether you can implement it. You can’t toss a Facebook page into the world and expect it to generate a return. You need to nurture it, test it out, analyze the results – all while keeping in mind that results aren’t immediate. No Facebook page at all is better than one that’s been abandoned or underutilized.

Do I have the money to invest in doing it right? You may really want a gorgeous Facebook landing page but can you afford it? Before you throw together a bit of clipart because you heard landing pages increase conversions by 45%, consider what this says about your business and your brand and whether a partial effort will get the full results you expect.

What’s my goal? Getting on Twitter, much like my client wanted to do, “because all my competitors are doing it” isn’t a goal. It’s simply a reaction. Be honest about what you expect to get out of your efforts. Increase sales? Improve customer service? Promote your brand? Even if you’re just trying something new out of desperation (see question number one), you still need a goal. Otherwise you’ll just be chasing down desperate options without ever knowing what’s working.

Will this new idea add to or detract from my current efforts? Time and budget are finite. If adding a new marketing channel is going to take time and budget away from your other efforts, you should have a reasonable expectation that your efforts will be worth it. In the absence of a crystal ball, how are you supposed to know that? Try asking…

What do my customers want and need? Take a lesson from my client and go ask your customers where they are and what they want. Are they on Facebook? Do they know what Foursquare is? When you say QR do they correct you and insist it’s QVC? If your competitors are doing it, are their customers responding or are they wasting effort pulling teeth for fourteen “fans”? Start by putting your efforts into things that promise the most bang for your buck. Experiment when you have the time and budget.

Now That You’re Calm… Figure Out What Your  Business Needs

Maybe you would be well served by a slew of social media accounts and all sorts of diverse marketing tactics. Or maybe you’re better off focusing on a specific channel or handful of channels.

The important thing is that you’ve given some thought to what your approach should be and how it can benefit you instead of just jumping headfirst into the latest and greatest fad.

Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with a fad if it works. And who knows, one day we may all be chuckling over that martini and reminiscing about the good old days when Facebook was a fad, telling each other how so very 2012 that was.

In the meantime, take advantage of the opportunities that work and tell the gurus and experts and get-rich-quick-in-three-easy-steps people to take their musts, shoulds and have-tos and stick them… well, in a less shiny place.