Why marketing managers need to focus on the customer over the latest ‘shiny new thing’

Some Marketing Managers have lost focus, and it’s not surprising. Over the years there has been a proliferation of new channels to reach and attract customers. Ironically, I think many marketers have become guilty of prioritising the latest marketing channel over the customer.

This pursuit of the new and shiny has even become a syndrome – ‘Shiny object syndrome’.  I think this a wonderful term for it. Many of us marketers have become like magpies, jumping on the newest shiny thing that will help us achieve our goals. But, all these shiny new channels are irrelevant if we’re not putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.

Channel over customer

What’s so wrong with focusing on the channel – or the next shiny object? Afterall, being successful on Instagram, ranking on Google or getting great responses through email campaigns aren’t easy things to do. The simple answer is that if you aren’t investing time and effort in understanding your customers, you will lose out to competitors who are. Being successful in your channels won’t generate brand loyalty and long-term growth if you’re not delivering what your customers want.

Back to basics

For me, it comes back to the basics of marketing. Channels belong under marketing tactics, not marketing strategy. And without a marketing strategy, you won’t have a clear view of who you are targeting and why. It’s likely that your tactics will fail.

If you can’t answer the questions below, you might be at risk of wasting effort and budget for little return.

  • Which market segments do we serve
  • Who are our customers and what are their needs (now, next week, next year?)
  • How do we differentiate ourselves
  • How can we build value, so we’re not competing on price

So, without doubt, ‘shiny object syndrome’ can be great for spotting new opportunities and routes to market. But, don’t let it distract you from developing a marketing strategy based on a deep understanding of your customers and markets.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition of marketing is ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. You can only do this if you know your customers.

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