Impossible Goals

Don’t Be a Marketing Magpie – Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome

The magpie is an interesting bird. Practically vilified in the UK and considered a sign of good fortune in Korea, this bird has influenced many cultures throughout history. Yet one universal fact remains true about this striking bird, and that is its propensity to collect shiny things. If you stumble upon a magpie’s nest, you’ll likely find it lined with a stray bracelet, a few small coins and a foil wrapper or two.


Now, you are probably wondering what magpies have to do with marketing. Well, take a look at your marketing toolbox. Does it resemble the magpie’s nest, lined with a handful of “shiny objects,” few of which do much for your overall marketing goals?

In online marketing, it’s easy to fall prey to Shiny Object Syndrome. Someone pops into your favorite marketers forum touting this “latest” marketing tactic that has brought him thousands of conversions, and your first temptation is to jump on board, without research and without a  thought to your marketing goals. Soon, you find yourself dumping time, energy and money into a program that’s accomplishing nothing for you.

It doesn’t matter what the “latest and greatest” digital marketing tactic is. If you haven’t done your research and compared it to your goals, you’re falling victim to Shiny Object Syndrome. To avoid this, go through a mental checklist before you take on any new marketing idea.

1.     Will this work for my customers?

As a marketer, you’ve taken a careful look at your customers and you know your target market inside and out. Before you latch on to any new marketing tactic, make sure it fits your customers. For instance, Pinterest is becoming a huge platform for online marketing. Yet, its primary reach is women. If your target audience is male professionals, don’t waste your time, no matter how successful someone else may have been with marketing via Pinterest.

2.     What are my goals?

Any new marketing tactic needs to be in line with your goals. Whether you have a specific problem you’re trying to solve with your marketing efforts or a new audience you’re trying to reach, make sure that you’re focused on that goal before you harness any emerging marketing tactic. Otherwise, you may just be wasting your money.

3.     How is this channel used?

Just as you take the time to know your target audience before investing in any new marketing tactic, you also need to take the time to know the marketing venue, and how people use it. Facebook is used to share interesting tidbits and life events. Pinterest is used to research fashion trends, recipes and decorating ideas. Any new marketing media is going to have one primary use. Before you sink your money into one, know how it’s used and whether that fits your goals, your product and your customers.

4.     Is it really innovative?

It’s easy to repackage something that’s been around for a while with a shiny new ribbon and offer it as the “latest and greatest” marketing technique. Never buy a system without first researching it. Make sure it really is innovative, effective and valuable. The last thing you need is to pay for nothing more than a shiny new ribbon and find you got an old, recycled marketing platform.

New marketing channels seem to pop up almost daily. Don’t be a marketing magpie and latch on to the latest shiny thing that comes your way. Take your time to know your audience, your goals and the marketing platforms available to you, and make wise decisions about where to spend your time and money.

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2 Responses

  1. This was exactly the case with one of our clients which we were in development of his e-Commerce project.

    Every once a time he were to see some new marketing idea on any other e-Commerce, he would want that. We tried going along with that, but it wasn’t a success most of the time and we simply spent our time for nothing.

    There are quite many people comparing e-Commerce with standard commercing. But it just doesn’t work, internet is a different platform. You may let your customers try a couch they plan to buy, you may provide your customers a sample in a music store, you may provide the sample of a perfume so people can test the scent, in a big enough restaurant, you may also give your customers samples. You may one-to-one interact with the customer, and show them something else if they don’t like it.

    In conclusion, there are possiblities to serve a “product” in whole five senses, however in e-Commerce, that goes down to two, only seeing, and that is precisely why your e-Commerce marketing should aim that point.

  2. Hi Gabriella

    If only I had read something like your article when I first started trying to make money on the net…

    I fell for all the shiney objects! My “nest” was full of them for 3 years – all those “business in a box get rich quick without doing any work” scams!

    Why do we do it? If you believe the posts on the various I.M. forums ,we all do it at some stage!

    Anyway let’s hope some aspiring newbie reads your post before they get hooked.

    Prosperity to all who see the “light” (eventually).


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