Eeek! Shiny Object Syndrome!

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It seems to be a trend that’s growing: small business owners are getting distracted by too many ideas or the latest fad, going off in a million directions and never completing anything. (Employees suffer from this, too!)

This loss of focus is costing people hundreds of hours a year in lost productivity, lost hours, lost dollars.

It even has a name: SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome. It’s not quite ADHD. It’s more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.

We think of a new idea, we hear of a great new gadget or marketing technique, and ZOOM, we’re off! There’s great energy and excitement in starting something new.

Of course what happens is that that everything always gets started, but nothing ever gets finished. In addition, countless hours and dollars are wasted in pursuit of the new, shiny object without having thought through whether this new item, technique, service or product is “right” for your business. Countless people have started blogs and abandoned them within a year (or less!) because they got tired of writing posts — or worse, no one was reading the posts.

It’s Not Just You

Lest you think that it’s only us small business owners who suffer from it, you’ll be happy to know that it’s rampant in many industries.

Software and tech companies are notorious for following every cool new fad that comes along, without thinking strategically about whether it’s a good fit for their business model.

TV creates shows around SOS, then dumps the show after 6 or 8 episodes.

Big business follows every business development fad that comes out in books or from gurus, only to drop it when the next cool fad arrives.

Tips for Choosing a Focus

I know it’s hard not to get excited about every new idea that comes past you. Some of them are very, very cool. But you are running a business and you must stop and ask yourself:

  • Is this right for my business/career?
  • Do my customers want this, and are they willing to pay for it?
  • Do I have the time, resources, energy, and money to put into this to make it successful?
  • Do I have too many open projects sitting on my desk that need to be finished before I begin something new?
  • Do I have the ability to finish this new project, and implement it, and maintain it?
  • What has to drop off my radar in order for me to start something new?

There’s nothing wrong with loving innovation and reinvention. Just make sure you don’t lose focus on what’s most important for you, your business and your customers.

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Rethinking Your Business
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Men Won’t Eat What They Don’t Understand

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Aly and I had lunch the other day with my Mom and Dad at a trendy fusion restaurant with a really creative menu. While we were trying turkey wraps with butternut squash inside, what did my Dad have? A steak sandwich and a Coke.

“Dad,” I said, “Why not try something new?”

My Mom (as many Moms do) answered for my father:

“Because men won’t eat what they don’t understand.”

I cracked up laughing because it seemed such a preposterous and over-the-top statement, especially since Aly was sitting next to me trying quinoa for the first time.

But on the way home I got to thinking: maybe she’s right!

Aly had asked the waitress: What Is Quinoa? She gave him a full description of what it was, how it was cooked and how it would taste. She took the mystery out of this new item and made Aly feel safe in trying it.

It’s not just men who won’t try something new unless they feel safe about it, it’s all of us.

When you’re doing marketing and explaining to your customers the service or product you’re offering, you must help them to understand everything that’s involved with it:

  • what it does
  • what it doesn’t do
  • who it’s for and who it’s NOT for
  • who are you and why should they listen to you
  • what it costs
  • how much time they’ll have to invest
  • what to do if they don’t like it
  • what outcomes to expect
  • how to buy it
  • what will happen after they buy it

Some buyers are risk-takers and love to have the newest, latest thingie regardless of whether there might be some glitches or not. They want to be the first to have something or to be in on the newest experiences. Often these are the customers who already know you and trust you, so the risk isn’t actually too high. But they still won’t buy if they don’t see a benefit or if the price seems too high for the benefits they’ll get. You need to help them see that the price is equal (or less than) the benefits.

Next you have those customers who don’t want to be “bleeding edge,” but they do want to get in on a great service or product that will help them. They have to think about it, weigh it in their minds. They can take days and weeks to decide, so you have to keep your offer in front of them, and answer any questions they have. Sometimes they’ll call you with questions, sometimes they’ll email you, sometimes they’ll post a blog comment. Your job is to be present on whatever channel they use to communicate, and answer their questions thoroughly so that they understand the offer completely.

Because customers won’t buy what they don’t understand.

Do you have a story about a time you walked away from an offer you didn’t understand? What comes up for you when you try to put together your words around your service or product? Please share your stories, questions and comments on my blog…I’d love to hear from you!

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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