Walk A Mile In Their Shoes: Do You Know What Your Customer's Shiny Object is?
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Walk A Mile In Their Shoes: Do You Know What Your Customer's Shiny Object is?

Shiny objects marketing is a simple principle, ancient in origin and easy to apply. From open-air markets in Nepal to the local mall, everyone tries to make their product or service stand out. Yet many savvy entrepreneurs fail to grasp the full meaning of this elementary skill and run into difficulties when trying to put it into practice.

It's common to see businesses touting their product, brand, or service. But putting a spotlight on your professional offering does not necessarily make it a shiny object. To truly make your product sparkle, it must sparkle for the ideal client in ways that make them come back, again and again. Bottom line is that it's not about your shiny object - it's about your customer's shiny object. And this means understanding where shiny objects come from and what a "shiny object" is for your customer.

For thousands of years, people have gazed upward, fascinated by the shiny objects in the sky. Shiny objects catch our eye. We place great value on them. We wear them to attract attention. Sometimes we even worship them. Certain cultures believe they hold the very essence of life. Ultimately, we reach for the brass ring because it is shiny.

Unfortunately, many people perceive shiny objects as being anything that distracts them from important goals. By this definition, a shiny object to a college student studying for a test is an invitation to a party. For the programmer who must complete a given assignment by the end of the week, it's a hot new video game. For the politician who strays from his primary pledge, it is an attractive special interest initiative. These are all examples of the dark side of shiny objects, the negative mirror image of positive shiny objects, so useful in marketing campaigns.

Curiously enough, if you "Google" the phrase "shiny object" almost all the references found will be for this evil twin interpretation. Understanding the nature of shiny object attraction can help us choose them more wisely. It also helps businessmen understand the secret hunger of their clients to possess a shiny object that speaks to them and demands ownership.

Shiny objects, too often maligned as casual distractions from significant goals, are more important than we think, with family, prosperity, security, and happiness ranking high among them. Once we accept our natural attraction to shiny objects, we can put that attraction to work in positive ways.

In daily life, many shiny objects really are shiny...diamonds, stars, gold, silver, new cars, glistening water, crystal glasses, and many other items that gleam and shimmer. Others attract our attention because they have personal meaning or relate to our unique needs and goals...like family photos or professional awards. But this does not mean that they are always shiny objects.

Take the diamond, for example. Most would assume that a diamond would be a shiny object in any situation. But if you were stranded in the desert, dying of thirst, and both a diamond and a glass of water were placed before you, which would you choose? Even though it is physically shiny, most would pass up the diamond for the glass of water!

How does all this relate to your business? If you know what motivates your clients, what appeals to them as a shiny object, you can cut through the clutter of old-fashioned marketing and not only move them to want your shiny object, but grab it and not let go! The key notion is that you must search for your customer's shiny object - not yours.

Far too many marketing executives see the world through the narrow prism of their own companies and products. The trick to successful selling is to step into your customer's shoes. The true measure of what motivates your customers to buy is their actions. Actions don't lie. Focus groups often do. Just because you've invested millions of dollars in product development doesn't mean you've got it right. Never get so rigid that you can't admit there is room for change.

One example of poor shiny object concepting is the "Anti-Drug" commercial sponsored by John Walters, our government's drug czar, in 2006. After spending $1.2 billion on radio and TV advertising, it was determined that not only were the ads a dismal failure, but they may actually have increased drug use. It wasn't because the ads weren't memorable. It was because the ads weren't motivating. What teenager wants to be seen as an "anti-drug?" The basic concept of these ads was so off base that the message wasn't anywhere near a teenager's shiny object. They focused on what adults wanted, not what kids wanted, and so did not promote the desired response.

Remember, when you create a marketing concept, you must develop it entirely from the customer's point of view. It doesn't matter what you think about the ad. It doesn't matter what I think about the ad. The only thing that matters is what the customer does after seeing the ad


So sit down right now and make a comprehensive list of your customer's shiny objects as they relate to your product, brand, or service. As you do so, thoroughly explore all aspects of your product that might relate to their shiny objects. You may start with a list of from 50 to 100. Make sure you use the needs of the customer and how these needs connect with product benefits to build this list. (Keep in mind that what is hugely important to a customer may appear insignificant to you).

Then, pare down your list. Identify what is most important to your customer by assigning a numerical value. Factors that determine the desire or need to acquire are vital. Once this is done you can move ahead with advertising, knowing that your business is based on a firm foundation of shiny objects marketing designed to get results!

David LaBonte is a seasoned marketing professional, with over 30 years of experience. President and partner of AdMatrix, an Orange County, California-based marketing/advertising agency, LaBonte teaches futuristic marketing techniques to clients across the country. Author of the book, Shiny Objects Marketing (published by Wiley and Sons), LaBonte writes articles for marketing publications and blogs, and trains entrepreneurs in his successful marketing philosophy, called Shiny Objects Marketing. For more information, call 714.769.1521 or go to www.shinyobjectsmarketing.com.

Published: February 11th, 2011

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