Why Shiny Marketing Tactics Cause Chaos (and How to Ignore Them)

Stop gambling on what’s trendy and do less — but better


Simon Lamey

3 years ago | 4 min read

“All Aboard the Shiny New Thing Bus!”

“Have you tried Tik Tok? Man, that’s where brands are killing it. Join us on the TikTok marketing bus to God knows where.”

Tactics without strategy are pointless — especially the new, shiny ones. Without a strategy, we get distracted from what it is we’re trying to do, and running a business gets chaotic.

It’s tempting to jump on the next chatbot/TikTok/Instagram Stories/VR bus because it’s there, not because it’s right for our business.

I call this behavior “jumping on The Next Shiny Thing Bus” syndrome.

One big lesson that I learned from 15 years working for London ad agencies is that having no strategy leads to utter chaos. And if you’re running a business, chaos is rarely a friend. And the problem with “The Next Shiny Thing Bus” is that it often leads to chaos in our business.

When you have chaos in business, no one agrees on which direction to go, what to say, where to say it, or how to say it. Teams argue, marketing looks bad, and resignations happen.

Get on the Bus, and the Conversations Go Like This

“Create an Alexa Morning Briefing every day–it’s where the attention is.”
“Do LinkedIn organically — the organic algorithms are good there.”
“Set up a podcast — everyone’s doing that!”
“Create blogs with SEO friendly long-tail keywords.”
“Set up a Click Funnel — that’s where the real hustlers are.”
“Do Facebook Live — you need to engage with your fans.”
“Do Facebook ads — where’s your traffic coming from?”
“Have you used Tik Tok? What about Pinterest? Or Instagram TV? Please tell me that you’ve used an Instagram Carousel?!”
“Post 20 times a day on every channel — if you’re not documenting everything, you’re messing up, bozo!”

The whole dialogue is exhausting.

I even made a few brain cells go pop writing the list above.

(Pop, pop. Oops, there go two more.)

Instead, what’s needed is a simple focus in one direction.

Or as it’s also called: strategy. A simple overarching strategy.

Why? Without one, the chaos of marketing a business creeps in. The constant inner nagging voice returns. saying: “do more content, content, content, you buffoon!”

A strategy is about cutting off 90% of options to focus on one clear direction. It’s about making the chaos of simpler and clearer.

A strategy done well recognizes the resources you have in your business — and the resources within you to deliver what is realistic without driving yourself insane.

If you don’t have the time or energy to do all that 24/7 hustle stuff and post random content everywhere (which I don’t recommend), then you need to be strategic.

Focus on less and commit to it.

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”— Michael Porter

Big Brands Depend on Strategy (and So Should Every Business)

When I worked in the big brand world, I’d be pushed out of the boardroom with a big dirty broom if my team turned up without a simple strategy and a series of advertising ideas.

Propose an ad campaign to the likes of Honda or Oracle, and they’ll ask what the strategy is before seeing the idea. If you have no thinking behind your ads — or it if it’s too complicated — then it’s time to order a taxi back to your office.

Yet, meet many business owners and ask them how they market their business, and they’ll tell you how many times a week they post on YouTube.

As a business grows quickly, the necessity for strategy rears its ugly head. And here’s an analogy I use to explain why strategy is important.

Imagine you are a king.

And today, you’re at war. If you have a handful of skilled archers, you’ll want to point them in the right direction.

Point them towards the enemy and strike at their weakest point, then you’re strategic. Point your few archers anywhere you feel like, the odds are that some arrows will hit the enemy, but many will get jammed in a swamp or hit a squirrel in a tree.

Not strategic.

In marketing, your tactics are your archers.

And the strategy about where you point them is set by you, the king.

The tactics and the mechanics of how you implement it are small and itty bitty. Yet, they must be focused in the right direction and tied to your simple, broad strategy.

It doesn’t matter how good your Facebook retargeting ads are, or if you’re publishing every day on Alexa — excessive content publishing can’t mask a dodgy strategy that’s pointing in the wrong place.

If you’re saying the wrong things to the wrong audience in the wrong channels — you’re pointing your archers in the wrong direction. It’s that simple.

What Actions Can You Take Today?

Firstly: don’t mistake tactics for strategy. They are very different beasts that feed one another. Yes, Facebook Live is not a strategy.

Secondly, take a 1,000-yard view of your business.

Take one to two hours out of work, step back from the everyday grind, and answer the following:

  1. What are my 1-3 specific objectives of where I’d like to be in 12 months? (they can be as ambitious or low as you want, but stick to two to three objectives).
  2. What is your one profitable target audience segment who’ll get you to your objectives? (don’t waste time on people without influence or money).
  3. Can you find one unique message that speaks to your target segment’s biggest pains? One message to use in your headlines and content.
  4. What marketing channels do your customers use often? Be honest about money, time, and resources your business can realistically commit to.
  5. Outline what content your profitable target audience will need at each part of the buying journey, from the first contact to final sale.

That’s a solid start to a strategy, and it need only take a couple of hours.

We are in the teenage years of shiny, digital tactics.

Few have outstanding potential for business, but many will pass and fade.

A simple strategy, however, will stop you from jumping on “The Shiny New Thing” bus too often, and reduce the feelings of chaos in your business.

This article was originally published by Simon Lamey on medium.


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Simon Lamey







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