Shiny Object Syndrome

 In the world of marketing, there is a malevolent disease that affects how many people behave every day. It happens across all levels of an organization and even all departments. It distracts people from their focus and priorities. It dilutes their effectiveness. It isn't the flu or an exotic illness but a recognized condition.  

Let me describe the symptoms:

That's some bright shiny object!
This syndrome is called the shiny object syndrome (SOS) and it can be found distracting millions of marketers and business people in all industries. 

We all get caught up by distractions. 
Whether it is the pull of a new target audience suggested by sales, a suggestion to try a new lead generation method or  a fancy new marketing automation software, something is always trying to dilute our focus. Like moths to a flame, we get pulled toward the light as if we don't even have a choice. 

Is there an antidote for the sickness? (Hint: It has to do with context) 

If you are a marketer with a full-plate of projects, I would suggest you try this simple approach to protect you from the distraction. 

1.  Identify the top 10 projects or activities that you hope to achieve in the coming year. This list should align with your corporate strategies and goals. Each item should be important enough that time, money and resources are already committed for the coming year. 

2.  Put the projects in order or importance to achieving your overall marketing objectives. 

3.  Recognize that each project isn't equal in importance so sort them into two subgroups- pick 2 that can be in the ‘A’ list and 8 that are in the ‘B’ list. (an 80/20 sorting) The 'A' list should take about 80% of your time and the 'B' list about 20%. 

Now, take a look at the bright shiny object in front of you.

Bright, shiny objects
Is this new bright, shiny object (project) a better idea, effort or activity than something on your list? Can you knock something off that is less important?

In adding the SOS to your list, does it alter your prioritization? (The A’s versus the B’s?) Is this spinning top so important that it knocks a major priority down the list or even off your ranking? 

If your bright, new shiny object doesn’t make the list- problem solved.  You need to stay focused and get back to the job at hand. What you have done is given that object context. 

If your bright, new shiny object does make the list, it should be in its proper place relative to all else you need to accomplish. Maybe this new effort has a greater chance of success to help you achieve your goals. 

The problem with a glittering objects is you forget to see it relative to all else that you have to do. Once they are in place along with your other efforts, you dim their attraction and can focus on the top goals. By deciding if it makes the top 10 list, you can quickly consider it and determine if it is worth your attention. 

If it doesn't make the list, then you know that like the alluring Sirens off the coast of Crete in the Odyssey, you have to shield your eyes. 

Sirens off of the coast of Crete calling to Odysseus

About Me:

I am a marketing professional with over 30 years of experience creating success. If you enjoy these blog posts, please sign up to receive them in your email or share them with other marketing friends who might be interested in these topics. Sign up with your email at the upper right hand corner of my blog

You can comment on this blog, send an email to me at or as the Car Talk guys on NPR  like to say, write your question on the back of a $20 bill and mail it to me. Thanks for traveling along with me on this journey. 

Labels: , , , , , , , ,