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Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome: Stop Wasting Time and Money with These 3 Tips

  • Peter SandeenPeter Sandeen

How many marketing product promotions have you seen this year? I see two or three every week, and I guess you’re quite similar in that sense.

I skim through lots of programs (this year, eight so far) because just one usable idea is easily worth the price tag for me.

And I try almost as many marketing tools. But if marketing isn’t your expertise and work, you can’t justify the time and money it takes to check out so many things.

If you’ve bought a bunch of programs, and you’re anything like most business owners, you’ve been underwhelmed by the results you got from most of them.

So, let’s see how you can avoid wasting your time and money with any more marketing programs, tools, and strategies that don’t help you make more sales.

#1 Do Your Research

If you don’t yet know the person behind a marketing product, do some research to get a better sense of what they know.

  • Check out their website. Is it somewhat professional? No need for fancy functionality and the latest design. But if it looks like it was built in the ‘90s, many links are broken, and you hardly understand what to do there, consider if you want marketing advice from that person. [tweet_box design=”default”]Simply put, imagine the website is a restaurant—do you feel comfortable eating there or are the hairs in your dish the least of your worries?[/tweet_box]
  • Look for testimonials and expert endorsements for the expert. If plenty of other people have found their expertise valuable, odds are they can help you, too. Especially if other experts listen to their advice, you can feel somewhat safe.
  • Do some Google searches about the expert. If you see plenty of alarming articles about them, consider if the complainers seem sensible. A few complaints and “he’s a scammer” type articles are to be expected since many successful marketing people have a few loud anti-fans. Some people like to share their convoluted recollections of what the expert did or said just to get attention—and their stories can be so far from objective that they’re practically lying. But if you find lots of alarming articles, there probably is a good reason for it.

Assuming the expert seems to actually be an expert, great. Their products are likely to be quite good. It’s not guaranteed, of course, but odds are good. Smart people rarely share bad information.

But you could still do similar research into the product they’re selling.

  • Read the sales page. You’re looking for a few things.
    • First, is the page well written? A poorly written sales page should be a warning sign.
    • Second, do you get a clear understanding of what the product should help you with and how can/will it do it? Vagueness should be a big warning sign.
    • Third, do you clearly understand what the product includes/does? Again, vagueness is a warning sign. Note that none of these alone is too bad. But if you see all three at once, it raises some serious questions since marketing experts really should know better.
  • Read the testimonials and endorsements. Generic “this is a great product” type testimonials and endorsements shouldn’t count for much because people say stuff like that so easily. But if they compare the product to other similar programs or they say something else specific, odds are the testimonial/endorsement is quite realistic. Also try to note if the people who said those things are like you. That is, were they in a similar situation as you are now? If no, their testimonial doesn’t say as much about how the product will work for you.
  • Search for reviews. Note that often affiliates create fake reviews that might populate the first two pages of Google results. You’ll know they’re affiliates if the links to the product aren’t “clean,” for example, is almost certainly an affiliate link. But if you find negative reviews, remember the anti-fans with their extremist and misleading stories.

If the person seems to check out and nothing indicates the product they’re selling shouldn’t be trusted, it’s most likely a great product.

But that alone doesn’t mean you should buy it.

#2 Remember Your Part

A huge majority of refund requests in the marketing industry come from people who didn’t go through the program or use the tool they bought. Or they didn’t implement it fully. Or they took short cuts.

Imagine you go to a Lego store and the sales clerk tells that you and your kids will have lots of fun playing with the spaceship. You go home and start building it. When you’re 50% ready, you stop.

Would you go back to the store asking for a refund because “you didn’t have fun with the spaceship” that you didn’t even finish? You’d be shocked to know how many people do that with marketing products.

Or what if you didn’t really follow the instructions and you tried to skip some steps? And your spaceship ended up looking more like space junk? Would you complain that “the instructions didn’t work?” Of course not. But a lot of people would if it was a marketing product.

So, do your part. Follow the instructions to a tee, implement everything as described, and ask for help if you need it. Then feel free to judge the results.

#3 Get the Right Instructions

This is the trickier part. Here’s the problem:

Imagine you’re building a 10-step staircase. How well does it work if you finish steps 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9? Not very well—regardless of the craftsmanship you put into those steps. Only the most determined people will get to the top when some steps are missing.

But that’s what many business owners try to do. Sure, they don’t often even realize what steps or how many steps they’re missing. But their marketing and sales system is like the unfinished staircase. Only the most determined/desperate people will get to the top and buy something.

For example, how good can your advertising results be if you don’t have a good landing page for the traffic? Even if your ads are terrific and you use every trick known to man to make the most of the ad platform (Facebook, Google, etc.), the poor landing page will keep your results minimal.

The problem I keep coming across is that people don’t have an effective, targeted marketing message. And then they spend their time and money on learning and using advertising, webinars, email marketing, blogs, and all kinds of strategies.

The tactics, tools, and strategies you use are just delivery mechanisms for your message. [tweet_box design=”default”]No one’s ever going to buy something from you because of the tactics you use[/tweet_box]

—they buy when your marketing message makes them understand how desirable your products or services are.

Unfortunately many business owners never take the time to figure out what are the most persuasive ideas their marketing should focus on.

But since there’s an endless stream of new trainings and products on tactics, tools, and strategies, the message part is often forgotten.

I’m biased, sure. But the point stands: you can’t get much out of a marketing program that doesn’t fit your needs. 

If you have an effective, targeted marketing message, your landing pages work extremely well, and your sales funnel converts leads to sales at a high rate, then perhaps learning more about advertising will have the biggest impact to your sales.

But if you tried to get results with advertising before having the other pieces in place, you’d lose money.


Or if you tried to build the perfect sales funnel before you have a way to get people to even sign up to your list, you’d struggle to see lots of sales.

So, consider what’s the first missing piece. The one that will have the biggest impact to your sales.

And then focus on that first. Postpone going through yet another training on some new tactic, tool, or strategy until you’re going to get the benefits from those.

If you don’t yet have a marketing message that consistently makes people want to buy from you, you can test your ideas with a quick exercise. You’ll see which ones are most likely to make people understand how you can help them, so they want to buy.

Questions about any of this? The comments are open below.

6 thoughts on Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome: Stop Wasting Time and Money with These 3 Tips


Thanks for the great article, and I particularly resonate with #2 – we DO have to take personal responsibility and do our parts.
The key is to get CLEAR on what we want to achieve, and invest in trainings and tools that will get us there – with this filter we can eliminate many bright shiny objects that are not in alignment with our ultimate vision.


Excellent article, Peter.
After taking your “targeted marketing message” course; I can clearly state that you follow through exactly as you promise. I wish someone had told me that your marketing course is the first one I should have taken when I began my business venture. ~Keri

Rohi Shetty

Thanks for this great post, Peter.
Yes, Shiny Object Syndrome is pretty much a universal malady because it’s so easy to buy stuff online.
I used to be a victim but now I’ve made a resolution not to buy any new products or courses until I’ve implemented two courses that I’ve already bought.
However, I still tend to download free e-books and courses. 🙁
I’m starting to see clearly that my attention and focus is more valuable than my money. So nothing is free because I’m paying with my time and attention.

Cathy Goodwin

Great tips, especially the tips to check out the person who’s selling. I go to WarriorForum first and then google “problems with…”

I’d add a suggestion check out how it’s being sold and paid for. If it’s JVzoo or Clickbank you’re protected by a return policy. I now make it a rule to buy only things I’ll use within the guarantee period and test them immediately. Sometimes the product is fine – it’s just more complicated than I need! Most people are very gracious about refunding when something just doesn’t work for you.

Recently I added a new rule. I bought a product from “X.” Then I listened to another webinar by X for a different product, where he made a statement that was blatantly wrong about the earnings potential of a particular opportunity. Not just exaggerated – wrong! Either he didn’t understand how that system worked or chose to move to fantasyland.

I actually wrote to him but didn’t get an answer, then returned the first product and crossed him off my list. I still don’t get it: why make a false claim that was so easily to see through? He had lots of good selling points without it.

The “truth test” never lies.

Nida Sea

This is the worst problem that I have! And, I shamefully admit that I was JUST about to purchase yet another course that would “Be exactly what I need!” without researching or checking any reviews. Yes, I have a problem, and I admit to it.

The other issue? I’ll purchase a course I *think* I need, only to go through my library of courses later to see I’ve already bought it in the past or have something that can teach me or fulfill my needs.

I never thought this to be an issue, though I knew I had a problem. Out of the eight courses I’ve already bought this year alone, I’ve only used two. So I’ve spent at least $1,000 in courses/digital products.

You’re right about the refunds, and I hate asking for refunds. I know it’s my own fault for not using the product I purchase, so why should I ask the person I bought it from for my money back when I didn’t do the work?

Great points in this post. It opens my eyes to Shiny Object Syndrome.


Thanks for the sound advice, Peter! I definitely have challenges with Shiny Object Syndrome. I think a good part of it is because I love to learn and there is so much I still don’t know about developing a successful online business. The other part is the fear of not doing everything “right”, which often prevents me from doing anything at all. Like my business, I’m a work in progress. Thanks again for the advice!

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