Avoid the Marketing Monkey House

May 5, 2010

A few weeks ago, Mike Wolfsohn of Ad Age wrote about what lessons agency directors could learn from Project Runway. Yes, the fashion design, reality TV show, Project Runway.

He argued that Tim Gunn, the wisdom-imparting godfather of the show, can be a role model for agency creative directors, as he encourages each designer to find solutions that reflect personal style, but are still appropriate for their target audience.

In our office, we frequently invoke another treasure of Tim Gunn advice from Project Runway: beware the monkey house.

Why the Monkey House?

As Tim Gunn once described to a straying fashion designer, when you first enter the monkey house at the zoo, it’s an assault to the olfactory senses.

If you stay there a bit, you only notice the smell occasionally. A whiff here, a whiff there.

Hang out in the monkey house for a while? You stop noticing the stench at all. In fact, the monkey house might start to smell just fine.

Does your marketing stink? Simply ask.

Could your marketing be buried in monkey house funk and you don’t even realize it?

Make sure to take account of your marketing’s effectiveness frequently. Step back and objectively analyze ways you can improve or change.

  • Does my website design reflect what my company has become? Does it serve my audience’s needs?

  • Have web design trends evolved so much that my site now looks dated? Or worse, is my site dated compared to my competitors’?

  • Am I taking advantage of all the marketing channels available? Is social media right for me? Could I improve my performance in search results?

Use the resources available to continue your evaluation. How do others perceive your brand and efforts? Beyond discussions with friends and family at the dinner table, consider surveying customers for their feedback.

Last year, Digett client Mint received more than 400 survey responses from their enthusiastic customer base, which provided valuable feedback about what their customers wanted going forward, the value their customers felt they already receive, and suggestions for potential usability improvements to their website.

Customer assessments can provide precious peeks into consumer behavior, plus, customers will have few qualms about telling you when something stinks.

Remember that quality marketing insight can come from many places. Even Project Runway.