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Part One: 3 Ways to Conquer Shiny Object Syndrome in your Marketing

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Clean up your messaging

Consider this a PSA. Startups, don’t let this happen to your marketing.

I’m a mom of twins. Chaos lives in my house like a third child, so I am very familiar with being distracted and repeatedly changing gears. In fact, this meme really sums it up nicely. While this certainly applies to my life at home, I’ve also seen this happen regularly at startups. And by this, I mean “shiny object syndrome”: where your attention is caught by one item, only to be caught by something even shinier and so on and so forth. Although this syndrome can apply to your overall business, I’d like to address how it applies to your marketing. Specifically, how it can lead to frustration, wasted time, and poor results.

Startups need to pivot

I like to think of startups like springs, stretching, and contracting with their demands. This means nimble and flexible environments serve most startups well. After all, entrepreneurs are known for seeing the big picture and knowing when to pivot or stretch. But when nimbleness becomes excessive to the point of ‘always looking for the next best thing’, shiny object syndrome sets in for the business which trickles down to your marketing. This is when you end up with “Random Acts of Marketing” and to be clear, your goal is not to end up with a pile of emails, a blog or two, and some slick sell sheets to distribute at conferences (that hopefully takes place this fall).

In order to counteract shiny object syndrome, you need a plan, a guide, and a strategy. Let’s dive into part 1 of this three part blog series.

Part One) Clean up your messaging

Messaging is the FOUNDATION of your marketing. If you don’t know how to articulate why you make your product, how it solves a problem, and what makes you different from your competitors, you aren’t saying anything of value to your potential customers. Let’s pause there.

And that’s also assuming you know who your target market is and how to find them. The reality is that it’s not always easy to identify your target market. Or maybe you know who you want to target but not how to reach them. (Stay tuned for the blog post on identifying and reaching your target audience.) The key thing to remember from this post is that leaving these who, what, why, how questions unanswered puts you in a minefield of shiny objects because your messaging will be scattered and ineffective. It leaves you vulnerable to going off on tangents and you need to be laser focused.

Consistency is key

Now, let’s go one step further. If you feel confident you can answer the above questions, you need to make sure your messaging is consistent. Do your social media, sales team, website, etc. reflect your core messaging? The answer I hear most often to this question is maybe. Messaging alignment can become a large shiny object that forces you into months of back and forth between sales, marketing, and product teams. Don’t fall into this trap.

Keep your messaging clean by keeping it simple. Know your why, clearly articulate who and how you help, what makes you different and keep it consistent. Put these question/answer pairs in a document that everyone in your organization can access and stick to it. I’m including a checklist in this blog post to get you started.

Get comfortable but not too comfortable with distraction

Let’s face it wearing multiple hats and warding off distraction is part of startup culture. However, this does not mean shiny object syndrome has to be alive and kicking in your organization. Recognizing that too much distraction is not a good thing will help your marketing stay on task with the goal of producing quality, not quantity. Clean up your messaging, get tools to keep you running smoothly, and find help when you need it. It’s really that simple.

Next up…Part Two: Finding the Right Tools

Anne Laffin is the founder of Fin Marketing Management. She created this consultancy out of her experience watching startups try to navigate marketing during their foundational years. She understands the hazards of suffering from shiny object syndrome and created a solution that keeps you focused and effective.

Want to learn more about how Fin can help with your startup marketing needs? Schedule a free consultation today.

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