How to Stop Shiny Object Syndrome in B2B Marketing

The B2B Panic Marketing Blog Series: Part 2

Missed Part 1? Read The B2B Panic Marketing Blog Series: Part 1 here

In this series Brand Llama will share some common causes of the all too pervasive problem of B2B panic marketing. We’ll also provide some tips and tricks to help marketers get refocused on what matters most for their organization.

Shiny Object Syndrome in Marketing - Copyright Your Ecards

Anyone can fall victim to shiny object syndrome. In fact, at some point in our lives, we’re almost all guilty of it. However, in the context of B2B organizations, it is most damaging when senior team members are the culprits. Marketing teams aren’t the only department subject to this kind of pressure. But, since marketing can and should be generating revenue for an organization, shiny object syndrome can seriously derail company goals. This can lead to team frustration, budget cuts and even layoffs.

Since the dawn of marketing, teams have been regularly sidetracked from solid strategic work to investigate “if we should be using (insert new shiny thing)”. In the late 2000’s social media was often the “it” shiny object. Before that it was the web. If you go back far enough, TV was the shiny object. Recently, inbound marketing and content marketing are the buzzwords of the day. While all of these tactics have their place, doing something because its new and interesting is not necessarily the best course for an organization.

A Common Shiny Object Syndrome Scenario

Your CEO goes to a conference. There’s a marketing track. He or she hears a case study about how “new shiny marketing” increased company revenue by x%. The executive isn’t happy with the results he or she is seeing from the current marketing team or is just interested in bigger growth for the company. After the conference, the head of marketing receives an email from the CEO. “Marketing Lead, just got back from a conference ‘new shiny marketing’ seems interesting, what are we doing with that?” A common scenario here is for panic to set in. Then the marketing lead goes into fire drill mode, and puts the team on a project to determine how they can do “new shiny marketing” without asking why.

The most critical thing to do at this stage is find out why the shiny object is being requested. Understanding the underlying reason for the request is critical. It may be that the executive does have valid concerns about results but that another solution is a better fit.


“We need a strategy for new shiny marketing thing”

– every CEO ever


Is the Shiny Object Really for You?

Ask yourself:

  • Does shiny object help our strategy?
  • Does our industry engage with this shiny object?
  • Will this shiny object help or hurt our team goals?
  • How hard is this shiny object to implement and maintain? What is the cost / benefit for using the shiny object?
  • Do we have the right team to support shiny object?
  • Can we afford to do it properly?

Shiny Object Syndrome in Marketing - By Tom Fishburne, Copyright Marketoonist.com

How to Stop Panic Marketing Due to Shiny Object Syndrome

If you ask yourself the above question and can make a case for the shiny object, then absolutely integrate this new tactic into your overall strategic plan. Marketing can and should be agile. However, even if you think it’s an interesting idea – make sure you determine how to implement it and how to measure it.

Shiny Object Marketing Decision Tree

However, if you ask yourself the all of the right questions and don’t like the answers, you need a way to explain to leadership why this shiny object isn’t for you. In this instance, building a case for either continuing down the current path or adjusting the path without the shiny object is key.

Your response back to anyone asking for a shiny object that doesn’t make sense should be:

  • A reminder of the current goals and a validation that they are still correct
  • An assessment of current strategy and its effectiveness
    • Even if your current strategy isn’t yielding the results that are expected, it doesn’t mean that shiny object will fix the issue. Find the true issue and work to fix that!
  • An assessment of what shiny object is and why it isn’t a fit (cost barriers, expertise, not for your audience, etc)

As long as your marketing organization asks why, has a solid strategy aligned to company goals and can measure the effectiveness of what they’re producing, shiny object syndrome is an easily overcome hurdle.

Next up: How to Get Your Team Out of Reactive Mode.

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