B2B Marketing, Shiny Objects and the REAL Million Dollar Question

Shiny ObjectB2B marketing organizations in particular seem to be drawn to the newest shiny marketing object.

Pinterest? Native Advertising? The World Wide Web? Responsive Design? Inbound Marketing?

Before diving headfirst into an empty pool, yes, you need to take the time to determine if you should be diving in the first place. (No duh, you already knew that).

But the real million dollar question is this one:

Why is everyone throwing themselves at that shiny object in the center of the bandwagon like a bunch of teenage girls at a Justin Bieber contest in the first place?

The shine on that object comes from evolving preferences, styles, capabilities, priorities or behaviors. As you dig into it, you will find trends and insights that will apply across your marketing. Even if you ignore the shiny object.

Case in Point: Visual Content

Visual content was hot in 2012. If it was for infographics or Pinterest, images, graphics or illustrations became de rigueur for marketers. But what are some of the elements underlying this trend?

    LOL! ROFL! (serious face) What I'm Really Doing
  • Easy to consume information. Remember the memes of yesteryear? (Yes, they are still around, but I’m trying to forget about them). It took 2 seconds to get the point even before a cup of coffee. Compared to text, visual content is brief.
  • It is a real craft. Everyone can write a crappy article or create a boring talking-head video (and nearly everyone does). But graphics and images with a clear and concise point are more difficult to create and reflect the craft and skill of the creator, making good visual content stand out in a sea of crappy content.
  • Shows ideas words can’t describe. When used for interior design and decorating ideas, Pinterest allows people to pin and discover what words cannot express.
  • The pendulum is finding a new equilibrium. People have different content preferences. For some of the reasons here, more people are looking for or appreciating visual content today.

Many of these trends and insights apply beyond visual content, yet many marketers jumping on the infographic bandwagon are completely missing these underlying and more important trends:

  • Keep it brief. Your content, regardless of form, should be easy to consume quickly.
  • Practice your craft. Your content is your craft, not an item to be checked off on your to-do list.
  • Find the right format. Both the information and the audience preferences should guide the choice of formats.

By focusing on visual content, you would just add visual components to your existing marketing. However, the underlying trends you discover can improve nearly all of your marketing.

In Summary

Marketing is changing so quickly that marketers are glomming on to the latest trend or shiny object for fear of missing the boat. It is time to stop accepting these shiny objects at face value and look for the deeper underlying trends.

Or you could just jump on every shallow, trend-chasing marketer bandwagon that goes by.

Your Turn

Will you dig deeper, looking for the trends underlying the shiny objects this year? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@wittlake).

Top image credit: imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my B2B Digital Marketing blog.

  • http://twitter.com/JeanneBrown JeanneBrown

    Eric,
    Good points here about shiny object syndrome, especially at the end where you write about keeping it brief, practicing your craft, and finding the right format.

    However, I bristle at these actions being called “trends.” These are not fly-by-night; they are the foundation of good communications. Also, you’re missing one, and I challenge every marketer and communicator out there to think of this with each and every piece they create: Know Your Audience. Who are trying to reach? Where are they? What do they like? What do they hate? If you start with this question, rather than “what’s my product?” or “what can I put in my infographic?”, you’ll be on the right path.

    –Jeanne

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Hi Jeanne,

      I hear you on calling them “trends”, but I think they are increasing in importance, which does give them a trendline. For instance, practicing your craft is far more important today because we have so many more alternatives that we can turn too. Similarly, when competing for short snippets of attention, it is more important than ever to keep your content brief. So I do believe there is a trendline here that should keep us from becoming complacent with what was good enough before, but between the two of us we can just call it a confirmation of communication’s foundations if you prefer. :)

      Know your audience: yes! One of the key foundations for planning, I definitely agree!

      Thanks for taking the time to add your perspective, I appreciate it!

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  • Kathleen_Booth

    Thanks Eric for this piece. Yes, we do have a tendency to succumb to shiny object syndrome, but I do think its important for us as marketers to educate ourselves about all of these trends so that we can make informed decisions about whether and how they should be added to the marketing mix. Take inbound marketing for example. Its getting a lot of buzz, and I would say justifiably so. I spent about 9 months on the sidelines doing a ton of research on this before deciding to adopt HubSpot for my business. Now I’m about 8 months into it and my website traffic is growing by 50% month over month and my leads are up 200%+ in the last month alone. Its hard to argue with those numbers, and the beautiful thing is that the software allows me to nurture those leads without adding staff and overhead. This is a total game changer for us and a trend that we plan to stick with!

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