- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Ooh! Shiny! Don’t be a Marketing Magpie

15th March, 2017

Ooh! Shiny! Don’t be a Marketing Magpie

Sometimes I hate co-working spaces.


I really do.


Sure they’ve got that fashionable carpet that looks like grass (ooh, so soft, so back-to-nature…)


And free cucumber and rosemary water (aah, so surprising, so refreshing…).


But they are FULL of distractions. Fun and interesting people to meet. Pop-ups with that massage you’re craving. The entrepreneur pitching his idea into his mobile loudly enough that everyone on the floor can hear THAT HE’S THE NEXT ELON MUSK.


And it’s hell if I’m trying to write, when I need uninterrupted peace to think.


So I always write from my home office. Door closed. In complete silence. Because the fewer the distractions, the more likely I am to stick to my plan and reach my goals.


But not everyone seems to share my ruthless approach to distractions. I see lots of business owners behaving like magpies in a Swarovski shop, flitting from one shiny new thing to the next (or like my husband with the remote control):


– ‘Hey look – a competitor’s done this white paper. We should do one like this too!’

– ‘Over a drink last night, a client suggested we do a fancy video. Let’s get on it!

– ‘One of our prospects will be at this big event. We should definitely go!’

– ‘Megacorp have been featured in Tractors Weekly. We should be too!’


But of course, none of this is in their strategic marketing plan for the year.


They’re veering off course in a super charged 4×4.


And they don’t know if ANY of this will actually bring in the business they need.


I call it Magpie Thinking. Why? Because magpies are always on the look-out for something shiny and they will drop it like a hot potato when they see the NEXT shiny thing.


3 top tips to STOP you from being a marketing magpie and keep you focused on what really matters:


1) Have an ‘Anti-plan’ to make more rational decisions

Of course, you already have a 2017 SMART marketing plan to stick to, right? (If not, send me an email.) But what about an Anti-plan? Got one of those?


It’s a list of stuff you aren’t going to do this year, with justifications behind each one.


For example, your list might read:

  • print advertising (too expensive, not clear enough ROI)
  • sponsored events (not able to differentiate our brand clearly enough)
  • corporate gifts (replaced with incentive scheme)


So whenever a shiny new thing comes up, check your Anti-Plan list. You may have already decided to bin it when you were thinking clearly and weren’t so distracted.


2) Don’t be a copy-cat

A little part of me dies when a client wants to do something just because a competitor is doing it. Isn’t that a reason NOT to do something?



  1. It might not really be working for them and
  2. THEY ARE ALREADY DOING IT. You’re going to be a sloppy second.


So, find your own unique voice, your own style, your own way. Keep a close eye on competitors, take inspiration from them even, but don’t blindly copy.


3) One client doesn’t speak for all clients

Unless you’re going to land the client of a lifetime (and even then, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket), don’t let one client’s opinions take you dramatically off course.


If you think there’s value in their suggestions, then do more market research to find out if their opinion is shared by more of your client base. Only then should you think about making radical changes to your marketing plan.


So…to avoid being a magpie….

  • keep your plan front and centre.
  • see those shiny new things as distractions not gifts
  • stay focused


I promise you’ll win a whole lot more business in 2017 if you do.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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