Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome

Guest Post by Karen Cooper, Owner, Platinum Group Real Estate Team at Pearson Smith Realty

Marketing. Either you love it or you hate it. For the entrepreneur or small business owner it is the difference between a successful business, a mediocre business, or no business at all.

The problem is that not all of us are marketers. You may be an excellent sales person,  the very best baker when it comes to specialty cakes, or the most creative graphics designer, but you may be terrible at marketing yourself, your products and your business.

So where to turn? This is where the “shiny object” comes in.

As a business owner, I get multiple calls per week, sometimes per day, from companies trying to sell me something that will improve my business. Do these sound familiar?

  • The opportunity to place a very expensive ad in their publication that goes to 15,000 households
  • Advertising space on shopping carts and wine bottle bags and hand sanitizer dispensers at the grocery store
  • Sponsorships that will give me access to country club members and parents of students in local schools
  • Tools that will make it easier to connect with my ideal client
  • The chance to buy “impressions” that will essentially allow me to pay for leads under an impossible to understand algorithm that is always changing.

How do you navigate these choices when you are already busy and perhaps marketing isn’t your strongest attribute? Know your pillars.

The pillars in your business are the support system, the foundation, that holds it all up. It is where your business comes from and who your clients and customers are.

Know your pillars and you will know your clients. Know your clients and you will know your business. Know your business and marketing becomes a breeze.

For example, in my business (real estate sales) my pillars are referrals/past clients/sphere of influence (lumped into one pillar, as I market to them the same way), social media, business to business relationships, and geographic farming (basically, a specific area or neighborhood that I market to). These pillars are where my business comes from year after year.

How do I know that? Because I track. Tracking is key to understanding where your business comes from and where it is going. It helps you to remain calm and steady when markets are volatile. It gives you direction, confidence and stability.

Tracking doesn’t need to be complicated, in fact, the simpler the better. I use a notebook in Evernote. You could use a CRM, the notes app on your iPhone, or even just a pad of paper. Figure out what works for you, and write it down.

Haven’t been in business long enough to have enough data to identify your pillars? A pillar can also be where you WANT your business to come from. Your pillars can also shift from year to year or as you grow in your business.

In my experience, 3-5 pillars is the sweet spot. Too few and you will be easily subjected to the volatility of market conditions when one area isn’t performing as well as another. Too many and you will be far too scattered to make any real headway.

Once you’ve identified your pillars, you can then identify the strategies or priorities for marketing to those groups. For example, for me:

  • A bi-monthly postcard mailer is part of my strategy for my geographic farm pillar and my sphere of influence.
  • A local monthly business networking group supports my business to business relationships and my geographic farm.
  • Employing a digital strategy firm to help me with my social media presence, which supports all my pillars.

These strategies and priorities will be the framework for your business plan and your marketing plan for each year. You will often find overlap between your pillars, which is great! This is an ideal way to connect the dots and expand your influence.

Now, the next time someone calls to sell you one of those bright, shiny objects, guaranteed to boost your business and make your life easier, it will be easier to identify if it will really support one of your pillars or if it is just a distraction and waste of money. Identify your pillars, and you will avoid the shiny object syndrome for good!

About the Author


Karen Wenner Cooper is a wife, mom to 3 sons, and business owner living in Northern Virginia. The owner of the Platinum Group Real Estate Team at Pearson Smith Realty (www.GoPlatinumGroup.com) and Founder of Empowering Women in Real Estate, the premier private group for supporting women in the real estate industry (https://www.facebook.com/groups/empoweringwomeninrealestate/). You can connect with her at karen@GoPlatinumGroup.com.

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