Fluffy rainbow bunnies devour marketing agencies

Ian Lurie

OK, I have to admit: This post seemed better when I was slightly drunk and buzzed on sugar. But, I enjoy being mocked, so I’m putting it out there anyway:

In a typical marketing agency, the fluffy rainbow bunnies prevail. Every idea has to get a fair shake. Every person has to get their say. That way, everyone can feel ‘invested’ in whatever decision’s being made, and no one feels stifled. Everyone is ‘in the loop’. Fluffy bunny rabbits hop gaily across a rainbow-strewn conference room, and everyone smiles and goes back to their cubicles.

And, in a typical marketing agency, very little gets done. Very few things improve. People spend most of their time in meetings rather than learning, or doing, or I dunno, making a decision. Those rainbow bunnies? They just poisoned your company with a paralysis-inducing toxin. Now they can devour you at their leisure.

Let me give you a quick tip: If you’re running an agency, then you’re leading an agency. Leaders need to shoo away the bunnies!

See, some ideas are just bad. Or good. And you should understand that in your gut. Take the test below. If you have a difficult time choosing ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for more than 2 of these, step away from your multivariate testing tools and get tested for fluffy rainbow bunny toxin immediately:

A land war in AsiaGoodBad
Fast-loading product pagesGoodBad
Building your entire site in FlashGoodBad
Natural color palettesGoodBad
Being the first couple to have sex in a horror movieGoodBad
Professional copywritingGoodBad
E-mailing your entire customer list, without permissionGoodBad
Building your e-mail listGoodBad
Depending 100% on search engines for trafficGoodBad
Building audience through social mediaGoodBad
Measuring the ‘ROI’ of social mediaGoodBad
Tracking goalsGoodBad
Writing a 2-year marketing planGoodBad
Planning for iteration and changeGoodBad

My real point

Some things you need to know in your gut. Use testing when you need to learn something. Not when you need to cover your ass.

Above all: Solicit advice, input and expertise when you need it. Not when you need reassurance, or groupthink. It’ll make your agency more efficient, and keep the bunny population down.

Okaaaayyyyyyyy I’m going to stop writing now and step. away. from the keyboard.

Other stuff

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Having worked corporate office jobs before, this reminds me of all of them. We were all told that joining a work committee is not essential but looks good on our reviews. But what did those committees actually do? Well, they would meet once a week or month to discuss things. What things you ask? Mostly things we already knew but they wanted us all to be on “the same page”. But then what? Now that we’ve held a meeting we need to hold another meeting to discuss having an “Office-wide” meeting about the meeting. I’m not joking… this has happened to me.
    So we hold a meeting for the office about lack of productivity. Of course no one can be productive while in our meeting, their work is forced to sit and languish while we discuss how they can better get their work done instead of letting them get their work done. Finally management decides that these meetings were so “productive” that we need to hold more of them… perhaps weekly or bi-weekly… until one day they realize that somehow everyone has become less productive since we taught them to be productive. Did they ever think it might have been the meetings? Nope, they think we need a new committee to convene on what the newer problem is.
    What I’m saying here is that Ian is right. Having meetings and discussions are great but sometimes you just need to “DO” things, make a decision and go with it. Take things into consideration and then cut the fat off of it and drop the blatantly wrong or bad ideas. If you’re the head of a company, a lead agent, a manager… sometimes you need to do what your title entails in order to keep your company moving in the right direction instead of faltering.

  2. Wow this so true ian. I had to comment because you have to do the trial & error stuff to make things work out. There is an expression that says, if you learn someone fishing he wont catch much but if he learns fishing by himself, he will catch lots for life.

  3. I just wanted to let you know that you don’t have to be drunk to think your post looked better yesterday. That happens to me when I’m all pumped up and writing away, only to find the next day I have a lot to change. But, I think there is some truth to your post. The meeting part is so true! I once belonged to an organization in college that just kept meeting without accomplishing anything so I asked what the point of the organization was. It dissolved for awhile after that. It reminds me of a quote I like, “It takes a great meeting, to beat not having a meeting at all.” So if you’re going to have a meeting it better be good.

  4. Sometimes we over complicate things, and often we want someone just to say your doing it right…the best way to learn is by doing,,,,,
    only found your blog today and am liking the way you put things…..

  5. The “a land war in Asia” line really made me laugh. 🙂
    I’m all-too-familiar with the bunny toxin – I remember back before the “dot com bubble” burst, and you could get a couple hundred million to start a company selling premium leather shoes for iguanas – I think people were hanging IV bags of “fluffy rainbow bunny toxin” for Silicon Valley workers back then.
    Here’s the thing about meetings. Meetings happen at first because they’re necessary.
    Then people realize that decisions are being made, and everybody up to the CEO bites their nails in fear that somebody will feel left out.
    So what used to be two developers and a marketing guy is now 30 people from six departments, only five or six of which have any input that’s useful in any way. And in today’s corporate culture, you can’t just tell the 25 or so extraneous people to “shut up, get out, and let us get our work done”.
    Then some of those 25 extraneous people have a blinding flash of the obvious: “we just got paid to sit here for 3 hours and listen to other people babble!”
    And the rest, as they say, is history.
    I think the task for management is to pare the meetings back down to the two developers and the marketing guy by whatever means necessary.
    Just my $0.02.

  6. Seek advice…. You mean as in “I don’t really know it all and somebody might know more on this?” Talking about going against the grain. 🙂

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