Thursday, September 01, 2005

Shiny Object Syndrome

A client came in the other day, fretting about getting the program to the next level.

The ink has been pretty darn good, actually, and a recent analyst tour was a great success... program elements which, for all my talk of sales results, are obviously still important. So what's the problem, exactly?

"I am worried that we're not paying enough attention to blogs," he said.

I excuse myself to check in with the team. They confirm that this fella is obsessed with the blogosphere. In fact, he'll go a day or two without responding to genuine editorial opportunities, but, tell him that a dude in Iowa mentioned the company in a (barely-read) blog, and he jumps all over it.

Why?

'Cuz "blogging" is "cool."

Perfect example of Shiny Object Syndrome. Some clients lack the confidence in their company, skills, product or story to do what's right for the program, and instead rely on chasing after every buzzword, in hopes of cresting at least one of the emerging hype waves.

This goes for PR stuff but is even more dangerous when the client is willing to change their entire raison d'etre in order to appear hip. Remember when the hosted model first became a big deal; when Salesforce.com told us that "Software is dead"? Remember how alluvasudden a third of your clients started scrambling to describe their solution as "hosted"? - How some even went to the trouble of re-architecting their software to be able to make the claim? - How some decided that a subscription model like Salesforce.com's was the way to go, even when they had plenty of lucrative-but-traditional licensing deals in the pipeline?

I won't be so extreme as to suggest that a company should never re-examine its way of doing things: that's healthy and to be expected. All we ask for is a rational approach. Shiny Object Syndrome is marked by a headlong and heedless rush; but, lasting businesses are built when business and PR plans are carefully plotted and sculpted - not thrown against the wall to see what sticks.

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