Wait, Mad Men and Digital Marketing?? Tell me more….

Mad Men

Courtesy of AMC TV

When people ask me what I do for a living, and I respond to them with that I work at an Internet marketing agency. This statement is usually followed by a stare that denotes a mildly puzzled and disengaged moment of ignorance. They truly do not know what that means so my way to make it easy to identify is that what I do is kind of like Mad Men, but using computers. This usually satisfies the immediate question.

Coming to an agency from a traditional marketing, brand management and product development background, I have always had this wonderful fascination with traditional Ad Men and the art of the brand and message promotion. While Superman, Batman, Han Solo, and Captain Kirk were many children’s heroes, mine were the likes of Ogilvy, Bernbach, Burnett, and the Saatchi brothers. So when I was made aware of Mad Men, a television series chronicling the life of the advertising heroes I have idolized most of my life, this was something I HAD to watch.

What was ironic about my fascination with Mad Men and the ad men of the 1960s was the fact that I was born in the 1980s, long after most of their best work was completed. Mad Men allowed me to live vicariously through the characters to infiltrate myself into that time period and watch how the pioneers conveyed a strong message to an audience thirsty for connection.

While there are many great moments in this show that translate into ‘real life’ marketing, such as the Kodak Ad reveal in Season 1, the Samsonite Ad, the Mohawk Airlines Ad, and others, the quotable moments are the parts that I feel have the most symmetry to the world of Quality Score, Penguin Updates, and Programmatic Buying.

1. “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing him.” – Don Draper

Mad Men

Courtesy of AMC TV

This quote couldn’t be truer. As soon as you are fortunate enough to earn a client, begin the stage in which you build their strategy and initiate communication of their message to their targeted market, you need to be on your game to continue to earn their business. Clients are choosing my team and I to come up with million dollar strategies, all day long. If we are stagnant in our approach, rest on our loins, and be comfortable with their business, this is the moment in which we begin to lose them. Our clients can be anything from a CPG conglomerate to a local business with 3 employees, they all expect the same thing, a commitment to success and winning strategies. But at the end of the day, they CHOSE us, so we need to make sure we earn it.

2. “Peggy, just think about it. Deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will jump up in your face.” – Don Draper

This ad is easily relatable to anyone within the marketing sphere. As mentioned in the last section, we are tasked to come up with million dollar ideas on command, and at a high rate. This can be taxing to the most creative marketer, but one thing need to remain sure, overthinking ideas and strategy only sets you up for failure. It has to feel natural, it has to remain on brand, and most of all, it has to produce a return. Ideas are only 1/6 of the problem, so focusing too closely on them will leave us and our clients unsatisfied.

3. “The truth is people may see things differently, but they don’t really want to.” – Don Draper

If the legendary Mr. Draper said one quote that described digital marketing perfectly, it was this masterpiece. This particular quote applies to many areas of digital marketing. First of all, it applies to the heart of SEO. Modern SEO is less about keyword optimization and more about understanding consumer intent. If consumers see things differently than you or your client hypothesize, you can be focusing your efforts in a desert. Keyword research is essential and without it, you have little to no chance for real success.

This quote also applies to general client interaction and expectation. Most of the time, our clients have a vision in their head of what they want their website to look like, their ad copy to read, their social media page’s content, however, what their customers are looking for can be two VERY different items.

4. “You don’t know me. And I don’t know you. We just have the same problem.” – Beth

Consumers and brands alike feel the pain associated with this quotable moment. Brands spend millions of dollars trying to get their message in front of the ‘right’ consumer. Conversely, millions of consumers exhaustingly scour the depths of the Internet in search of relevant content, products, or services. Both parties are looking for each other, but neither of

them are able to find each other. It is like soul mates who never meet, both are left dissatisfied

The job of the digital marketer is to connect these consumers, satisfying the brand’s need for growth, and the consumer’s need for that content, product, or service.

5. “We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.” – Don Draper

The grass always looks greener on the other side of the street doesn’t it?? Many times, brands and marketers alike are in such a growth and acquisition mode, seeking the allure of volatile growth that they do not stop and look around along the way. Many times, the ‘sweet spot’ they are seeking was somewhere along the journey. However, they were too interested in looking straight ahead, that they forgot to see the road signs on the side of the road.

Mad Men

Courtesy of AMC TV

6. “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” – Don Draper

This particular quote doesn’t have as much to do with digital marketing as it does with general marketing and innovation. Many times marketers complain they are able to reach their audience or silence a sea of negativity surrounding their brand. However, they do not make a conscious effort to change the conversation and alter the perception of those consumers. Spending time to listen to consumers and understand their pain points can allow a brand to improve their product, introduce a new offering, and ultimately satisfy customers. This is a win that even Roger Sterling would enjoy.

7. Don Draper: It’s your job. I give you money, you give me ideas.
Peggy Olson: And you never say thank you.
Don Draper: That’s what the money is for!

Every marketer, whether in house or at an agency can relate to this particular quote. As I mentioned a few times earlier, we are idea machines. We are paid to come up with the lightning in a bottle, the big idea that can change the course of their business. And once we come up with that wonderful idea and change their lives forever, it is right back at it to change the world again. It’s a thankless job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Extra Credit: Because sometimes the real thing is better…

“Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage. It can only convey it.” – Bill Bernbach

Now, all of you Mad Men buffs are probably thinking to yourself, there was no character named Bill Bernbach?? It takes a true ad junkie to know that Bill Bernbach was the godfather of advertising and one of the greatest ad men of all time. This particular quote from Mr. Bernbach doesn’t be more accurate as it applies to digital marketing. When Mr. Bernbach uttered these words, computers were the size of a room and ads were created with pen and paper, not Photoshop and Illustrator.

Little did he know, but Mr. Bernbach was accurately describing the digital marketing landscape that would emerge along side of his beloved traditional ad world, and this quote would outline many of the challenges that all digital marketers face. We can do our best effort to optimize a client’s website to ensure the crawlers are indexing everything as needed, carve out a masterful organic and paid search strategy, and obtain highly targeted digital media placements. But, unless we are promoting a truly great product, with a clear unique selling proposition (USP), then our chances of success are slim, at best. What a strong digital marketing plan will accomplish is get your message and brand in front of the audience for which you are targeting. Unfortunately, if you are not satisfying this consumer’s need with a truly superior solution, chances are that no marketing will help you succeed. Marketing can bring in the visitors, but a great product convinces them to get out their wallet.