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Don Draper Marketing: Mad Men, Then And Now

Monday, July 7th, 2014 by Erin Peters

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” ~ Don Draperthumb---don-draper

We all know Don had his issues, but marketing and branding a company certainly wasn’t one of them. While the advertising and marketing landscape has changed drastically since the Madison Avenue days, Don had some pearls of wisdom about branding, promoting, marketing and sometimes (NOT all the time), even humanity.  Viral posts didn’t exist during the real Man Men days, but these marketing cliché’s are still relevant in the inbound age.

But first, let’s go back to his musings on advertising and happiness.

Sure, billboards still exist. And occasionally those ‘Next Exit Gas/Bathrooms’ signs do capture my attention after two bottled waters. But we all know great marketing includes gathering data, testing and optimizing. And it’s a helluva lot easier and cost effective to edit a landing page or Facebook ad than it is to create a new billboard.

While there have been somewhat recent studies suggesting that billboard advertising is still effective, this is dependent on several factors and “studies” are just that, studies. These are usually smaller investigations or analyses of a subject or product. Digital marketing is inbound marketing, which allows those looking for what you’re selling, to find you.  With Google Analytics and numerous social media software insights, we can capture ALL the data.  After analyzing this data, we can find out what’s working and what’s falling short, tweak the campaign and come through with higher conversions/sales.

But what the anti-hero’s point was that when done well, marketing and advertising gently suggests what to buy, making you feel – on some level – happy. The advertising business is about people and shared values, now more than ever.  Smart businesses today find a way to connect with that passion and that happiness.

The brooding character also said, “Even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary.”infographic---don-draper-200px

While this is slightly antagonistic, there’s truth in the statement given the increasing competitive landscapes. The focus has to be on tomorrow. With this way of thinking, it urges those marketers to continue to research, observe, strive, measure, test and optimize – ensuring more success, longer.  Your competitors are constantly thinking of new promotions and trying to capture your audience. It’s vital to stay on your toes, constantly learn and engage your audience with interesting, educational and valuable information.

“You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and the hate us for it.”

Consumers are making purchases based on how the product makes them feel about their identity. Sell more than just a product.  And to do that, it takes a village.  Advertising, web design and digital marketing agencies are no different.  Even creative genius, Don, didn’t act alone. He often relied on his advertising protégée, Peggy.

Together, we are creative. We create ideas, promotions and reasons that your product is different. We find ways to have potential customers view your service as if they didn’t know how they lived without it. Our programmers are constantly navigating the changing technical landscape and absorbing the latest updates, ensuring your online presence will pop and entice savvy consumers.  And don’t hate us because our designers rock. It’s what they were born to do.

“Change is neither good or bad, it simply is.”

If Don only knew how irrefutable this statement was. Well, in a way he did…because the writers did.

Change is the only constant in the digital marketing and advertising world. Within marketing, lies branding and good branding must appeal to human nature. Marketers use stories and images to evoke emotion and build relationships, while aligning with the brand.

It’s human nature to want to connect. And everyone loves variety and adventure, to some scale. Consumers are using a slew of social channels today not only to connect, but to grow and to contribute. We want to feel like we’re making a difference. Today’s competitive landscape requires that digital marketers stay ahead of the curve and often, designing the curve itself. We’re all publishers to some degree and this helps incite change. It just is.

“What you call love was invented by guys like me…to sell nylons.”

Don’s just a ray of sunshine, isn’t he? But seriously, let’s think about how the ability to construct objects of desire affects business. The wide-ranging power of effective branding campaigns can propel a business by making it recognizable and trustworthy. A brand carries meaning and associations, like love or family. Remember the ‘A diamond is forever’ campaign?  Of course you do.

Today, marketing is more truth telling and educating than convincing.  And with more information in the hands of the public, the more enlightened consumers will be.  Don and the crew at Sterling Cooper told consumers what to buy. Today, consumers want to know why they should buy it.

Unlike Don, consumers aren’t jumping into bed with the first shiny product or sexy commercial they see. Content and engagement is the ‘getting to know you’ phase. And consumers are getting to know brands and products through Google and social media. They are getting in committed relationships with brands.  Be the educator and project an image of transparency and humanity.

“Nostalgia: It’s delicate but potent.”

Ever cried at a commercial or an image on Facebook? Come on, I know you have. The theme song to ‘Cheers’ used to get me every time. Emotion is an important component in moving people to become advocates of your brand.  Use powerful storytelling and case studies to foster emotions. Add nostalgic posts and remind your audience of things that care about and love. Social media is visual, so use quality and eye catching imagery whenever possible.

“If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation.”

Today’s marketers can create a dialogue by utilizing digital and social media channels. Smart digital marketers listen and respond to negative press. Blogging and bloggers are a huge part of the web conversation; they are thought leaders. Understand your audience and their issues. Facilitate the creation of genuine content that they will find valuable. Don’t just contribute to the noise.

While work-day binge drinking may be out, it’s not only okay to bring a little marketing “madness” to your business, it’s crucial in standing out above the rest.

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