Whenever I hear the acronym “NFT” (aka non-fungible token), my mind immediately plays the tune of “ABC” by the Jackson 5.

Why does it pop into my head? I don’t know. I worked at a record store for a long time. Any combination of words and letters that could reasonably match the tune of a song becomes that song in my head.

While you might be sitting there thinking, “sounds great! I love that song!” there can be too much of a good thing.

Why am I hearing it so often? Because NFTs are having a real moment. Twitter has rolled out unique profiles for NFT owners, Justin Bieber bought an NFT of a bored ape for $1.29M, Paris Hilton gave out NFTs to the audience during her appearance on The Tonight Show (after she and Fallon had an awkward, almost surreal conversation about a picture of a cartoon ape), and Tom Brady retired from the NFL to focus on the startup NFT agency he co-founded, which just secured $170 million in funding.

If you’re thinking, “that sounds crazy,” you’re not alone. If you’re thinking, “I didn’t understand any of what you just said,” you’re not alone.

The terrible chore of chasing trends

NFTs are just the latest example of huge, unsustainable trends that a surprisingly large number of people are going wild for.

It’s impossible not to see the popularity (and especially the dollar figures) when a lot of these things come around and wonder if you’re missing out as a person (or as a business, if it could have any potential application within your service/product offering).

But, without getting into the details of what exactly NFTs are and how they function, it’s important to note that (like any collectible) their value exists solely based on what someone is willing to pay. One comparison would be the collection of fine art, but a better comparison would be a repeat of the 1990s craze surrounding TY’s Beanie Babies. As soon as people stop seeing value in them, they will become worthless. It’s not about if; it’s about when. This is why people who own NFTs are so passionate and dogmatic about their importance. They need someone else to buy in as the more people buy-in, the more value they hold, and the better their position when it comes time to cash out. The losers are the ones left holding the bag when the value drops out.

This is why chasing trends, especially big ones, can be a gamble.

If you have the money to throw around and the ability to get in and cash out quickly, chasing trends can bring some positive returns. But they never, ever replace a solid strategy, aligning to your purpose, and sticking to what you know.

Stick to your strategy and innovate along the way

You know the business goals you’ve set out to achieve. You (hopefully) have a solid marketing strategy to help you get there. Stick to it. Chasing what’s hot is exciting, but it can also be a pointless resource drain, especially if it doesn’t pan out. This applies beyond the world of NFTs.

When TikTok came out, brands rushed towards it. Same with Instagram long before that. Whenever something new becomes wildly popular, there is that nagging feeling of “we need to be a part of this.” But just because something becomes popular doesn’t mean that’s where you need to be.

Your purpose, strategy, and the goals you are trying to achieve should guide your decisions, and every decision should be measured against them.

Your marketing strategy will tell you where your audience is, so meet them where they are.

If your research indicates that they’re active users of TikTok who are open to exploring brands they find on the app, that’s where you’re going to be. An influencer campaign is likely already part of your strategy. But if not, take a pass. You aren’t missing out if there’s nothing to miss out on.

When it comes to the latest and greatest, don’t chase. Innovate.

Learn from what’s popular and see how you can innovate within your market using the lessons it might provide. You might not need to chase the NFT craze, but blockchain (the innovation behind NFTs) has wide-reaching applications far beyond what’s being done right now. It’s the future. How can you make it a part of yours in a way that fits your business and brings value to your audience? Maybe it too is unsuitable for your business, and that’s ok. The importance is in thinking differently about how you can grow and innovate.

Businesses owners who create a lasting legacy don’t do so by chasing. They lead.

Be strategic. Be purposeful.

Don’t join the pack. Focus on staying ahead of it.

And maybe don’t spend $2.9M on a picture of a tweet.

 


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