imageThese days, anyone with something to market has unprecedented opportunity.

And that’s the problem.

More specifically, better opportunities are one of the major reasons your marketing efforts flounder and fail.

Mobile capability, competitive intelligence, data analysis, up-to-the-minute tendencies and trends — never have we had so much at our fingertips. An array of message distribution possibilities put every corner of the globe within reach of anyone with a mousetrap to sell.

Yet, when it comes to connecting with the right audience at the right time in a meaningful way, local, regional and global brands miss the mark in dramatic fashion every day. Once proud brands in virtually every industry fight tooth and nail to hold to a viable sliver of the pie — never mind move the needle and actually increase market share.

More data. More tools. Certainly no less creativity. And minimal progress. What gives?

Opportunity or Distraction?

In a piece for Harvard Business Review, Walter Isaacson wrote a seminal article on the keys to the successes of Steve Jobs’ leadership tenure at Apple. First on the list? Focus. Despise or admire him, it is tough to argue the point. Once a course was set, Jobs was single-minded. To a fault.

If only things were as clear-cut and simple for us as in those back-from-the-edge-of-extinction days at Apple. Right?

These days we must sift through a constant stream of new apps, technologies and enterprise solutions, all hawking a better silver bullet. Just about the time we have our ducks in a row, a sexier opportunity appears.

New markets. Improved strategies. Better jumpstarts. Keener insights. Process shortcuts. And that’s just the promises made in this morning’s emails.

If you market you are surrounded by opportunities promising to turn the tide, get you to the finish line faster, and point you in the direction of the next race.

And here’s the tough part. Today might actually present you with a great opportunity.

Or are they really just grand distractions?

Certainly, as rapidly as things evolve, we must be open to game-changing ideas and tools. The well-worn ruts tracing how we’ve always done it are dangerous the deeper they become.

But let’s be real. Each time we fall prey to the newest flavor of the month or the latest shiny tech solution, we risk taking the preverbal two-steps-back. More to the point, we reveal that, for whatever reason, we weren’t terribly committed to that plan we adopted.

Constantly changing plans may be indicative of no real strategy at all.

On the other hand, beware the few who somehow tune-out the siren call of every opportunity. Their focus (some might call it commitment) is at least part of what is shared by the handful of brands, causes and campaigns that reshape markets.

Do all the homework. Chart a course aligned with long term strategy. Then stick with it long enough to win. Or at least learn from the experience.

When everything looks and sounds like a great opportunity, a solid strategy may be what’s missing from the marketing plan.