From VR to Tik-Tok, marketers are always on the lookout for the next big thing. But marketing manager and blogger Alex Myers says his fellow ‘magpies’ should scrutinise new approaches – and not always swoop in on the shiny at the expense of tried and tested techniques.

Marketers are a lot like magpies.

I bet you weren’t expecting that opener.

Folklore dictates that magpies are attracted to shiny objects – they pick them up, fly them all the way back to their nest, and keep them there. Whether they have a use for a bottle cap and a keyring is irrelevant.

It’s shiny. They want it.

Much like magpies, marketers are attracted to shiny things. New channels, new executions, new approaches. Whether they’re right for our brand or not, we collect the next big thing and take it back to our strategy. We don’t have a use for it – like a magpie with a bottle cap, what will a floor cleaner brand do with VR?

But it doesn’t matter. It’s new and we want it.

Strange analogies aside, this is something that has afflicted the marketing industry for a while now. Most clearly since the digital revolution but always there in some form, there’s been a fixation on new, shiny techniques and approaches.

In a way, it’s indicative of an industry that’s always looking forward – an industry that’s always trying to do better, achieve more results, and push boundaries. The intentions are good, no one’s doubting that, but the product is less so.

VR being just one, the marketing landscape is littered with relics of next big things, cast to the side and left to fade away when everyone realised they weren’t in fact the next big thing. Though we can’t always get it spot on, this landscape creates doubt in the mind of the person with the purse-strings… how do I know this strategy won’t have the same fate? It’s a hard perspective to argue with if you’ve previously sold a Tik-Tok-first strategy to a groundworks company (with the predictable outcome).

We’re so blinded by the shimmer of something new that we forget one of the most fundamental rules in marketing – all that glitters ain’t gold, and not every channel or execution is right for every brand.

It may be exciting. It may be delivering never-seen-before results for some people. It may be easy to sell. But the fact remains that it might not be right for you – and that’s okay.

Don’t assume because it is new and everyone’s talking about it that you should use it. Treat everything with the same scrutiny before including it in your strategy.

It can be very difficult, especially in an under-resourced marketing team, to know what’s worth your time and what’s not. Sifting through dirt to find gold is a laborious process, so how do you know that the gold is in fact gold?

The answer has never changed – it’s whatever is right for your brand. If that’s Tik-Tok, then great. If it’s print ads, that’s also great. It’s time to fight against our magpie-sensibilities, properly scrutinise new approaches, and not be afraid to say ‘that’s just not right for us’.

More than knowing what to do, being a great marketer is about knowing what not to do.