I was attending a MeetUp (an amazing method to gather like-minded people face-to-face across nearly any topic – real social networking) – surrounded by a group of budding entrepreneurs looking to share ideas regarding Internet marketing and leveraging technology to expand their respective businesses.

As I sat, listening to various stumbles through the ever-changing list of buzz (e.g. SEO, adwords, search ranking, viral marketing, etc.), I had a humbling epiphany: the business community has been blinded by the infinite hype of technology.

This observation is not lowering criticism at the expense of technology neophytes (remember, we are all beginners at something) nearly as much aimed at the corporate decision makers and their investment in IT.  It is the responsibility of technologists to solve problems using technology not simply to chase the proverbial latest-and-greatest.  AND, it is the responsibility of the corporation to not fall into an identity crisis trying to keep up with the Jones’s chasing websites, mobile apps, Facebook likes and Twitter feeds.

This problem extends much deeper than consumer touch points.  Many corporations are changing direction to not be left in the competitive dust.  They are investing heavily in Big Data and Micro-services and Software-as-a-Service because, well… that is what is being sold and nearly everybody is talking about it! As much as all of these technologies are interesting, if not truly amazing, we need to remember each serves a purpose and serves it individually well; otherwise, it is fair to assume the aforementioned monikers would not have entered the growing lexicon of household vocabulary – do you remember how you “discovered” before Googling things or heard an announcement without receiving a Tweet?

Define Your Technology Objectives

But let us not lose our perspective on running a business.  For every investment – either time and/or money – it remains critical to define a target objective.  It is simply wasteful to be chasing software, tools, or vendors just because everybody else is doing it. This does not only apply to marketing, but everything that technology has supposedly changed or improved.

Just because a technology is cool, hot, exciting, or newsworthy – it will not necessarily benefit every business that jumps on the proverbial bandwagon. This can inevitably, and often predictably, become a colossal waste of resources – which startups in particular have in limited supply.

I submit this to all decision makers – and even many of the technologists… please, be leery of technology solutions looking for business problems to solve!

To my new found entrepreneurial friends struggling to split your time among the myriad of online marketing tactics… I suggest you return to the basics. Who is your target audience, how are you most likely to improve their lives, and what is your message? Once you squarely define your purpose and who you are trying to serve, we can talk about the latest-and-greatest way to solve getting the word circulated.