Understanding Marketing to Avoid Shiny-New-Object-Syndrome

Understanding Marketing to Avoid Shiny-New-Object-Syndrome

It seems like new technology is introduced daily. In the world of online marketing, there is a constant stream of new apps, sites and platforms meant to make our jobs easier. It can be a daunting task trying to keep up with all the innovations.

Remember the dog in the Disney movie Up that gets distracted in mid-sentence and would say, “Squirrel!” when he thought he saw one? That describes many of us when it comes to new marketing technology.

In fact, it’s difficult to lose site of what you are trying to do, which is to market a business successfully, and not get sidetracked with “Shiny-New-Object-Syndrome.”

But high-tech tools are just that, tools meant to be used to promote brands, products or services. The essence of marketing and its true aim can sometimes get lost with the distraction of “cool” a new technology.

Marketing does not involve using high-tech tools simply because they exist. It needs to be an intentional activity and goal-driven.

So I would like to take a moment to look back and see from where marketing has come. By understanding the origins of marketing, we can use the practice more effectively in today’s high-tech world and avoid “Shiny-New-Object-Syndrome.”

At the turn of the last century, manufacturers produced the products that they thought people needed. Marketing texts today refer to this as the Production-Oriented Era. It was a time when business believed a good product would sell itself. Henry Ford and his Model-T exemplify this attitude well. The Model-T was a great product, built with no frills so it would be affordable for all. Of course, there was no customization to the product at all, either. It only came in black.

In the 1920s and ‘30s, production and distribution improved greatly. But the Depression, coupled with World War II, influenced people to live with less. A whole generation grew up saving everything, in case they could use it later. They grew gardens and purchased less food at the market. For businesses, the solution to getting the public to buy more when they were conditioned not to do so was through sales and advertising. It is during this era that modern advertising was born.

After World War II, businesses returned to manufacturing consumer products. Soldiers returned home after the war and began building suburban lives. Part of that existence included a home, a car in the garage, appliance in the house, and food from the local market, or consumerism. It was a time when products were plentiful, and consumers had purchasing options.

During this period, manufacturers began to focus on the wants and needs of consumers. They then created products that fit those desires. It was the birth of modern marketing.

Today, those businesses that still follow the Production-Orientation or remain focused on the selling and advertising model, don’t find much success. Businesses today need to discover the needs of their customers, and then satisfy those needs.

For online marketers, achieving this goal is much easier today than it’s ever been. Web-based tools provide two-way communication with customers. Surveys are easy to create and distribute across web-based channels. Simply listening to the comments and questions consumers leave on websites and social media allow businesses to have the opportunity to understand their customers better.   Then they can easily formulate plans to fulfill those needs.

So as new marketing technology continues to emerge at a rapid pace, don’t allow it to sidetrack you. Stay focused on the primary task: Marketing your business. Evaluate new technology on the basis of how it can help you reach your marketing goals. A lot of new technology does some really amazing stuff! But if it doesn’t help your business reach your goals, then it’s not a good fit.

With careful evaluation and consideration, you can avoid the “Shiny-New-Object-Syndrome.”

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Bob Turner is a Small Business Online Marketing Consultant with Social Flair in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dhuv Grewal, PhD, and Michael Levy, PhD, Marketing (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill-Irwin, 2010), 13-14.

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