The following is a guest post from Matt Bailey, author and expert in transforming data into insights to benefit your business. Matt recently partnered with DMA and Marist College on their newest Certificate Program “Customer Insights”, sharing the must-have tools, approaches and systems for an impactful data and insights program. This post is adapted from his book Wired to be Wowed.

A desire to be Wowed can work for us or against us. The Wow factor not only exists for your customers, but also for you, the business owner.

The problem in business is that we get distracted by new social media, the latest sales guru, or the next big marketing breakthrough system that we hope will redeem our last ten attempts that failed miserably.

This is a problem. A sickness, really. And now we are going to define it.

Does Your Business Have Shiny Object Syndrome?

Yes, that’s the diagnosis. What are the symptoms?

  • A strange attraction to headlines about the latest social media
  • Thinking that the latest tactic will increase your business
  • Self-diagnosing marketing choices based on articles, hearsay or assumptions
  • Lack of internal marketing measurement and data
  • A string of past marketing agencies that couldn’t do the job
  • Stagnation – a lot of activity, but not a lot of results

Ultimately, I’ve found that Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) is a mindset that believes the answer is out there, and not in here. Those suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome are always looking to external factors such as new technology, social media tactics, or a new agency.

However, those that are immune to Shiny Object Syndrome are laser-focused on internal factors: marketing and website analytics, cross-channel tracking, sales tracking, and customer insights. They know what’s working, why it’s working, and how to leverage that data into informed decisions.

At the most basic level, a business that suffers from Shiny Object Syndrome is one that is negatively distracted by advances in technology and media. In contrast, a business that is Wired to Wow is one that proactively implements those advances as an extension of existing strategy. We all want to be a part of businesses that Wow, but what does that look like? What are the functional differences within this dichotomy?

I want to demystify the major distinctions between these two kinds of operations and present to you what a business that “Wows” looks like.

Three Shiny Objects

As a consultant, I’ve discovered three major Shiny Objects that distract and paralyze business leaders and employees alike: new technology, the assumptive promise of technology, and emotions. Understanding each of these will help us avoid distraction and stay on course with the true vision of our companies.

Technology offers to simplify our work and lives. But it does more than just that. To businesses, it offers the prospect of greater profit (more money) and the idea that it will make our work better. Frequently, we hear of businesses making lots of money through technology channels like Twitter. From the outside, it appears so easy. Well, we could do that too, we think to ourselves. Unfortunately, when we are Wowed by the technological success of others, we only see the attractive return, but we rarely consider the investment it cost them.

New technology provides an easy answer to why you may not be successful—I call this its assumptive promise. Underneath the external lure of technology is the promise that it will fix all your problems. It is something like: x amount of new customers, x amount of sales in x amount of time. As tempting as it looks we both know it is unrealistic. The Wow of technology lies in its promise to immediately revamp productivity and bolster the success of our businesses. But, it’s a false promise. Yes, new technology is a fundamental tool in marketing today (and one with great potential), but we cannot count on it to fix our business’ foundational problems. Usually, the problem is too deep for technology alone to solve.

The last major element of Shiny Object Syndrome is our own emotions. When we sense that our businesses are failing in an area— or altogether—we worry as we seek answers. I have consulted with businesses that are deeply convinced they need to incorporate a new website into their strategy. They believe the primary reason they are falling behind is that their current website is not up to date or on par with the trends. However, when I ask why they believe a new website will fix their problems, they generally lack facts and data to back up the belief. In essence, they are responding out of emotion. I think you and I can agree that a business driven by pure emotion will not thrive for long.

When a business is enamored by the headlines, technology, or trendy conference talks of the day, they are losing grip of the dynamics in their own business. When shiny objects are distracting your team, it means you are looking for answers outside of the data native to your organization. Ironically, that is the very information you need most. Among other havocs, this habit breeds a culture of instability within your business which results in constant turnover, shifting direction, and perpetual confusion. On the other hand, a successful business must grow teams that are Wowed by their own internal information. They are Wired into their data, website analytics, business measurements, and customer feedback. Those are the teams that come up with ideas about how to better serve their customers and how to improve themselves.

The most significant mark of a thriving business is that they value and depend upon their own data. Don’t look outside. Look inside.