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Why is it marketers become so quickly enamored with the next shiny toy? And at what cost? What do I mean by "the next shiny toy"? For many marketers, the first new shiny toy came in the mid-'90s with the creation of websites. And even though email (initially known as electronic mail) started its humble beginnings in1969, it wasn't until the '90s that it became a pervasive marketing channel.

In addition to email, marketers chased another new shiny toy: Internet marketing. In 1994, zero dollars were spent on Internet advertising. By 1996, US companies had invested $301 million in Internet marketing, primarily in the form of banner ads and attempts to transform other offline advertising concepts to the Internet. We weren't content, and before we figured out how to strategically use our new toys, we charged off into new territory.

In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed what would become the most popular search engine, and marketers couldn't wait to get their hands on this next shiny toy: search engine optimization and pay-per-click (PPC).

In 1997, Jorn Barger coined the term "weblogs," and marketing had another new vehicle for reaching customers.

In less than a decade, marketers had led their organizations into new channels—without having mastered any of them.

Still, we couldn't help ourselves when 2001 ushered in the next shiny toy: Web 2.0, which facilitated online collaboration. MySpace entered the market is 2003 as the next shiny toy officially emerged: social media. With the ability to move beyond HTML to rich user interfaces, Flickr came on to the scene, followed by Google's Gmail and the inauguration of Digg. Marketers experimented with and pursued social media to the fullest extent of their abilities. While we dabbled, mobile marketing hit the scene in 2001. And while we talked the talk, SMS technology didn't become widely used until mid-2008.

Our appetites for the new shiny stuff seem insatiable.

This article isn't meant to be "marketing media in review." Its purpose is to demonstrate that marketers tend to race headlong, hell-bent after the next shiny toy. But at what price? I'd suggest at the price of our credibility and the opportunity to be perceived as a strategic player.

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM