Avoiding shiny object syndrome

Have you ever come across shiny object syndrome? It happens when smart marketers look at shiny new tools/tactics and completely forget focus best practices, i.e. “we need a Snapchat strategy immediately!” I don’t want to besmirch any new platforms, however the basics in digital marketing still work remarkably well.

The  goal of this post is explore how leaders can avoid this & focus on results. This is written more for myself than anything else. I tend to read too many articles on artificial intelligence, driverless cars, robotics etc. instead on dedicating time on what really moves the needle.

Some key questions I always ask myself:

  • Am I making use of all the best practices that are at my avail?
  • What did I do last year that worked well and I should continue doing?
  • Conversely, what should I stop doing?
  • How can I include new tactics quickly and apply this information to other channels?

How does this relate to your marketing?

If executed properly, high converting channels are remarkably resilient. In the classic customer acquisition sense, the channels that work well and produce the highest ROI do not vary significantly. TV advertising is still the blunt force hammer that it used to be. Email marketing has the highest cost vs. return ratio. This, of course, is a generalization; tactics vary based on the industry & company.

Before exploring untested acquisition channels, ensure that the basics have been mastered.

 Where do I start?

I love this picture from Smart Insights (it’s a great tool in case you don’t know it).

Look at your existing sources of revenue and see what’s currently working right now. Typically, email, search and video are top driving sources. Mastering those is a great way to achieve quick ROI. This is pretty basic for advanced digital marketers, but most large organizations don’t take advantage of these basics. In my experience, these channels will always drive the highest return on investment. During my time working at Google Canada, I worked with some of the biggest Canadian brands. Many of them did not full adopt this principle unfortunately.

Infusing adaptivity in your planning

How do you incorporate new channels into your planning? Using a copy/paste approach from last year will not drive incremental growth. Adaptation to changing conditions needs to be instilled within your organization.

A quick way to achieve this is to take a percentage of your budget and focus on new areas of growth. Want to try Periscope? Why not? Don’t simply focus on the new channels are a priority; experiment on a small scale before making a more significant investment.

A key nuance with the previous section is that you can’t get caught up with only doing what you did last year. The search for new growth must be constant and ongoing.

If you love buzzwords, hire a strong digital marketing expert(s) and name them the ‘growth hacker’ of your team. This really boils down to having people on your team constantly on the lookout for new pockets of growth while maximizing existing channels. This is the true secret of continued growth.


Nectarios Economakis
Nectarios Economakis
Partner at PNR, a management consulting firm led by digital executives. For the past 12 years, he has living & breathing how technology is fundamentally changing how people & businesses operate. In 2011, Nectarios was the first employee in business development at Google Montreal. He participated in the growth of sales and profitability of many large corporations. Previously, he held positions at Bell Web Solutions and Media Experts where he led their performance marketing teams. Nectarios holds a Masters of Science degree in Business Administration from the John Molson School of Business, where his thesis compared the effects of online advertising on consumer search behaviour. Currently, he sits on the board of several start ups.

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