I grew up with pet raccoons, and one thing you figure out quickly in their company is how much they love shiny things. Balls of aluminum foil, keys, dangling earrings (my mom learned that the hard way) – those would catch their attention and distract them from whatever they were doing. Turns out marketers, like raccoons, often suffer from “shiny object syndrome.”
New technologies, platforms, and software constantly compete for the attention (and dollars) of marketing professionals. Promises of better analytics, big gains in leads generated, and new-fangled ways of targeting segments are among the many promotional messages that flood my inbox and LinkedIn groups. While staying current on tools that help you to reach marketing goals is crucial; danger lies in chasing every new thing that comes your way. Deviating from your marketing plan by attempting multiple integrations or implementations can slow you down and distract you from achieving your goals.
So how do you know what to get your paws on in 2017 and what to ignore? How do you know whether a new piece of tech will be a beneficial addition to your marketing toolkit, or if choosing not to adopt something could be a costly mistake? Follow these guidelines as you evaluate all the new shiny objects that get thrown your way throughout the year ahead.
Have a plan
It’s the first of the year, but it’s not too late to develop a marketing plan to chart your course through 2017. No matter the size of your organization, a plan will keep you focused and should be used to guide your decision-making. Of course, it’s good to have some flexibility, but clearly defining your goals and breaking down how you are going to go after them keeps you from getting sidetracked by tools and tech that are cool and new, but will have little impact on the areas you have prioritized.
Do a tool, tech, and software audit
Take a little time to review all the accounts and vendors you already use. Have they made updates that you are missing out on? Are you maximizing integrations within your other platforms or using all the tool has to offer? Map all your gadgets back to your marketing plan and ask, “How is this going to help me achieve X?” This may reveal some redundancies in the tech you are using. But, it may also expose some gaps, and those can point you in the right direction when considering what you may want to add to your mix this year.
Ask: Is everyone else doing it?
Blindly following what your industry or competitors are doing is ill-advised, but being aware of trends in your field and what other players are up to is just good sense. To stay competitive and meet customer expectations, sometimes it’s necessary to jump on the bandwagon and acquire tools that have become industry standards because of the experience they deliver.
Slow your roll
Time is not something in high supply for most of us. And with multiple demands coming from clients, execs, coworkers and other stakeholders, it’s hard to fight for more of it. But I think businesses often rush into decisions without enough vetting and planning. I know that slowing down is not easy (and often not feasible), but I urge you to take enough time to research, try demos, ask questions, and think about how new programs will fit into what you are already doing or whether they might interfere. It’s easy to be blinded by the awesomeness of the next cool thing and end up disappointed when it doesn’t do what you thought it could.
2017 will be full of trends, tools, and vendors calling and emailing - eager for you to spend your time and money with them. I’m excited to see what new technologies or practices I can learn about and incorporate into our client’s marketing programs. But, unlike Roxie (my favorite raccoon), I won’t be chasing after every shiny thing that catches my eye. Instead, I’ll be looking for the rare gem that adds real value and can play a strong role in helping me achieve goals for our clients and improve performance in the areas where it matters most.