SOS! Watch Out for Shiny Object Syndrome

Entrepreneurs tend to be people with a lot of energy. People who get excited by ideas. By new directions that get their synapses firing about all of the possibilities. This very thing is how they get people to follow them. How they land investors. How they find the ability to work long hours and serve as the driving force behind their business.

Unfortunately there is a flip side to this energy: Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). 

If you haven’t heard of it, the gist is that people who suffer from it have a habit of noticing what’s working for other people and wanting to change everything midstream to try out whatever seems to be the hot new idea. It’s a little bit of FOMO, a little bit of impatience, and a little bit of fear of failure, all mixed in with genuine interest and excitement in this new thing. 

Oh, and it can hurt your business.

The 411 on Shiny Object Syndrome


Being able to read the market and incorporate truly good ideas from others into your business is a valuable skill. However, the problem with SOS is that it tends to convince people to jump from plan to plan and idea to idea without actually giving anything time to succeed.

We see this a lot in marketing, and we get it – if a particular tactic doesn’t yield immediate results, it can be both frustrating and scary. You are spending your hard-earned money on this. That’s hard to do when you’re not seeing the fruits of your labors.

But – as we’ve said before and we’ll say again – marketing isn’t magic. Most tactics take three months minimum before you start to see results. With SEO, that minumum is closer to six months – but 12 months is more likely.

If you jump from tactic to tactic without giving anything the chance to find a foothold, it’s akin to throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks (hint: usually, nothing does).

So, do you have Shiny Object Syndrome? And if you find that you have tendencies in that direction, how do you fight them?

Signs and Examples of Shiny Object Syndrome in Marketing

You’re always looking for a new guru. Business advisors. Career advisors. Marketing experts. When a new course piques your interest, you’re quick to sign up – even if that means you’re listening to multiple philosophies at once… and sometimes they conflict.

You’re 90% of the way there on a bunch of initiatives. Do you start out excited by a particular marketing tactic or campaign, work on it until it’s just about finished… then find yourself switching to something new because now it’s the thing that excites you? Then you look back a few months later and wonder how you put in so much time, effort, and money without actually putting anything out there?

You constantly add new priorities to your team’s to-do list and wonder why nothing gets done. Ideas just come to you and you want to jump on them. So you add them to your team’s priority list and tell them to get to it as soon as they can. Over and over. But everything feels like it’s crawling along.

Living with (and Overcoming) SOS

Shiny Object Syndrome is something we constantly battle – both from our clients and from ourselves. So, how do we combat it?

Simple (but not easy):

  1. Make a plan
  2. When new ideas inevitably come, write them down in an “ideas” list and then forget about them
  3. Stick to the plan
  4. Reevaluate the plan after a predetermined amount of time
  5. If the plan is working, keep at it/try to improve it
  6. If the plan isn’t working, take a look at that “later” list

One of the first things we do with clients is work with them to take a long, hard look at their business and come up with a 6-month marketing plan. This plan lays out the strategy over that time period, including the specifics of what will be completed.

When new ideas and initiatives inevitably come up, we evaluate them with the client. If they truly seem worth pursuing immediately, we have a conversation about whether they want to add to their budget or look into what work will have to be pushed further down the line to fit within their current budget. Otherwise, we put those ideas on that “later” list, so we don’t get distracted from the original goal.

Ultimately, whatever you do will take time. Shifting halfway through can be worth it in some instances, but that means you need to plan for even more time before noticing results.

Struggling with your own SOS? Recognizing and acknowledging it is half the battle – the other half is remaining vigilant.

We can help. Reach out today for a free consultation.