Six Mad Men Marketing Tips (or, What Would Don Draper Do?)

As seen on AMC’s spectacular series Mad Men, fictional 1960s advertising exec Don Draper was an adulterer, an occasional misogynist, a military deserter, a wretched father, and a fall-down drunk. In short, he was arguably the most morally bankrupt protagonist in the history of television.But boy, did that guy have a way with words. Mr. Draper (alias Dick Whitman — it’s a long and sordid story) was known from Manhattan to Hollywood as one of the most formidable content strategists of the golden age of advertising. Throughout his storied and often scandalous career as the creative director of several bona fide agencies, he led dozens of highly successful, quasi-fictional advertising and marketing campaigns for behemoths such as Lucky Strike, Coca-Cola, and Dow Chemical, among many others. His philosophy and approach to advertising rapidly became the stuff of screen legend, and his quick wit and inspired elocution acted as the driving force of Mad Men for seven full seasons.

Not only was Don equal parts villain and virtuoso (well, maybe tipping the scales toward the former), but his genius remains relevant in a modern setting and often applies superbly (at least in the broad strokes, and minus the heavy chemical influences) to real-life advertising and marketing.

Don’t take it from me, though: let’s learn more about Don Draper’s approach, straight from the horse’s mouth. Here are some of his most memorable marketing maxims along with explanations of how they remain as germane as ever for growing your law firm, healthcare organization, or business.

You are the product. You feeling something—That’s what sells!”

For better or worse, your actions determine how the court of public opinion judges you and your business. Accountability is paramount, and the value of humility is absolute. Your outward identity is your public persona. Therefore, the most important marketing tool you will ever possess is innate and essential: it’s you.

Your passion will shine through if you let it, and these are the qualities that inspire people and transform lukewarm leads into motivated clients and customers. Most people inherently trust that a law firm, healthcare organization, or business with a strong online presence and physical location are capable of serving their needs. So the deciding factors in their search fall to more personal qualities such as compassion, confidence, and charisma.

Remain aware that your disposition, your words, and your actions are the clearest reflection of yourself. When you broadcast the very best of yourself, you become the product that sells itself — which is an unquantifiable and invaluable commodity.

If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Regardless of your triumphs, prestigious awards, or sterling ethics, it might seem as though your brand and reputation are under constant attack ― either in the form of guerrilla warfare from a rival or from an onslaught of nasty reviews by a client who feels somehow slighted.

However, contrary to the famous dictum that it’s best to fight fire with fire, the sage approach to online conflict is usually to take the high road. Engaging in an online battle with a disgruntled client will only serve to make you appear petty, and going blow-for-blow with your competition could exhaust your marketing budget and create contentious relationships with your peers. We aren’t suggesting that you concede the fight. Instead, change the focal point of the battle to gain an advantageous position.

If you receive a negative review, don’t respond in kind. Politely and concisely state your position and extend an offer to make the situation right. Your online audience most likely assigns great weight to online reviews, and your character will shine through whenever you take an altruistic stance in these forums.

As for rivals, there’s no sense in compromising your long-term marketing vision to defend your territory or take a combative stance. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so continue to worry about the goals you’ve set and strive to achieve your objectives without giving concern or credence to outside influences. Set trends, blaze trails, and keep moving forward.

People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone.”

Okay, maybe not anyone, but most people are wrought with anxiety about the issues they face and spending money to address them, especially on legal and healthcare services. They are hungry for knowledge and guidance pertaining to their needs. As an expert, you are in a unique position to provide it. This is a significant responsibility, but it is also a major advantage when consulting with potential clients and customers. You can put even the most worried minds at ease by dispensing candid expert advice in an understanding and empathetic tone that doesn’t condescend.

You can leverage this intrinsic wisdom into digital marketing success by creating compelling content. Coupled with inventive SEO strategies, great copywriting can place your firm at the forefront of a potential client’s online search habits. Write with authority on topics you are exceedingly comfortable with, and position yourself as a publisher of high-quality, helpful content within your industry. This foundational strategy will inspire confidence in your audience by providing thoughtful answers to the complex questions they want answers to.

Additionally, try not to use too much jargon in your prose and avoid posts that are unnecessarily lengthy. Word economy and everyday language are two of your most effective tools when it comes to attracting a wide readership and inviting readers to spend time with your content. Don’t attempt to exploit or manipulate your audience through alarmist language that instills fear. Instead, take this opportunity to advise them and exhibit your skills as a trusted advisor and ally.

Why does everybody need to talk about everything?

Well, Don, they don’t! We at LaFleur maintain that a holistic approach to marketing is almost always the right approach, but that doesn’t mean that we ask our clients to spread themselves too thin. We have had several clients who initially came on board resolute in their desire to tackle every topic in the book through content creation, social media management, paid search, and virtually every other marketing medium you can think of. There’s certainly nothing wrong with adopting ambitious and flexible strategies, but it’s also important to recognize where your strengths lie and capitalize on those strengths before diversifying your operations and messaging.

Further, when it comes to branding, you never want to send mixed messages. Brand awareness is much more about consistency than it is about lofty aesthetics. This is why we tend to see the same logos, read the same slogans, and hear the same jingles from leading brands across every industry. Branding is about creating entrenched associations within a consumer’s mind, and the best way to do that is through repetition.

Of course, you need to begin with a strong base of branded materials, which is why you should always partner with a trusted agency that possesses successful branding experience before embarking on any new initiatives. Not only will a skilled and experienced marketing firm create beautiful and harmonious brand elements for you, but they will also provide a comprehensive set of branding instructions that will guide you, your colleagues, and staff about when, where, and how to utilize and leverage your new branding.

Even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary.”

Success definitely is a reality, especially when your marketing efforts are structured so that your goals and strategies are clearly defined from the very beginning. Unfortunately, as our mutual friend Mr. Draper suggests, marketing is not a “set it and forget it” enterprise. Show me a business resting on its laurels (for example, by relying exclusively on referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations), and I’ll show you a business that is ripe prey for the competition.

Regardless of any past successes you’ve had, there is always room for improvement. This means keeping up to date with emerging technology, seeking more (and better) online reviews, and publishing content that places you at the forefront of expertise and innovation within your industry. These efforts shouldn’t simply be about preserving the gains you’ve made — they should be about forging ahead and continuing to make progress along an endless trail of successes and further goals.

LaFleur Marketing: Like a Rye Old-Fashioned, We’re Modern Yet Timeless

If you’re looking for sustained success and cutting-edge innovation in your marketing efforts, you’ve come to the right agency. We like to think that our blend of practicality and personality would make even the cantankerous Don Draper proud, as would the high degree of marketing success we consistently achieve on behalf of our clients.

Our expert marketing professionals possess exhaustive knowledge and decades of experience in numerous strategies and tactics ― from AdWords to SEO and everything in between ― and we want to partner with you to form a creative and lucrative partnership. We do more than get our clients the leads they need; we get them the clients they want, and we would love to talk more about how we can do the same for you.

Please contact us today at (888) 222-1512 or complete the form on this page to schedule a time for us to talk about your needs further. In the meantime, remember to do as Don Draper says (but not so much as he does).

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Kyle McCarthy

About Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy is an experienced and skillful content strategist who earned his MA in English literature in 2012. Since then, he has worked with several national brands implementing marketing strategies and delivering compelling content.

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