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5 Marketing Lessons from Don Draper and his Mad Men

In today’s television scene, what could be more useful to marketers than a period drama series set in the 1960’s about a thriving Manhattan advertising firm? It’s like the ultimate comic-book film for marketing nerds, if you will.

Don Draper leads the cast and fills every scene with ingenious ideas and bravery in advertising his assigned products. His drunk, chain-smoking, shadowy character makes it more interesting for viewers to discover the things that make him successful in his craft. Although the series is also devoted to depicting the fashion and corporate lifestyle of that time, its brutal and uncanny concepts in advertising has captured even the interest of real marketers.

Straight from the desk of Don Draper, here are some of the lessons you could use in marketing:

  1. Use your own creative angle. Draper once said, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” He believes in the effectiveness of being able to mix things up and being unique in presenting your product or service. In the first season, Draper was tasked to advertise Kodak, and he presented it by a carousel slideshow. Even with a rather boring product to pitch he was still able to appeal to customers’ hearts by not selling the camera, but the memories that came along with it, built around family relationships.
  2. Know your customers. Draper is good at analyzing his audience and looking for that soft spot to evoke and emotional response from them. Catering to what the public wants is like telling them how carefully you’re paying attention to their needs and not thinking of profit above everything else. By getting a better understanding of your audience, you will be able to perform marketing in a way that addresses specific aspects of their lives and making it better for everyone.
  3. Learn to trust people and believe in teamwork. Despite of the brilliance of a few gifted people, marketing is still a collective effort. One way or another, a team would have to collaborate to carry out tasks with efficiency. Sometimes, trust and personal issues get in the way, and it becomes unhealthy for the entire campaign. Even a genius like Draper relies on the help of other people, especially Peggy, whose opinions he respects greatly. A helpful, constructive environment is the best place to achieve your goals.
  4. Your experiences can help you. Draper has an obscure past behind him, from his unpleasant childhood, his experiences during the war up to his infidelity issues and changing of identities. This led him to alcoholism, cynicism and arrogance, although he observes strict business ethics. Yet his advertising ideas and top-notch, taking inspiration from the pains of his life and his newly found philosophies and morals.
  5. Please people. In one of Draper’s most famous lines, he says, “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And 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 the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay.”

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