Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

“He’s not MAD; he’s just a genius.” – Check out the marketing lessons you can learn from this 2007 hit TV series! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

February 28, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

Hi, everyone! I hope you all had a good rest during the weekend. 

Are you ready for another awesome work week ahead? 

Let’s start this week with inspiration from one of the world’s “Marketing Marvels”―outstanding people in the field of marketing, communications, business, etc. 

Every Monday, I feature business owners and leaders, marketers, communicators, independent professionals, and even fictional characters because it’s good for us to gain motivation and fresh ideas from them by learning about their work, experiences, and insights. 

In today’s article, we’ll talk about an iconic character from the 2007 American TV series, “Mad Men.”  

Keep reading to find out how even a fictional TV character can help you boost your career and strengthen your brand. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels 

“Mad Men” is an American period drama TV series created by Matthew Weiner and produced by Lionsgate Television. 

The series lasted for seven seasons (92 episodes) and ran from July 19, 2007 to May 17, 2015. The show’s fictional time frame happened between March 1960 and November 1970. 

At its core, “Mad Men” provides viewers with a glimpse into the energetic world of advertising agencies in the 1960s in New York City. It captures fans’ attention and takes them back to the hustle and bustle of the ultra-competitive industry during those times. 

… and there’s more to the TV series aside from these things. 

Another factor that hooked viewers was even in a fictional time frame that took place in a less modernized world, “Mad Men” offered valuable business and marketing insights that never go out of style. 

Business owners, leaders, and marketers can apply these insights even in today’s modern landscape! 

Most of these lessons revolve around the main protagonist of the story. 

Don Draper (played by American actor and producer Jon Hamm) is the fictional main character in “Mad Men.” Up to the season 3 finale, he was the Creative Director of the Manhattan advertising firm, Sterling Cooper. 

Photo from Quotivee.com

Despite being known as erratic and mysterious, Draper is widely regarded in the advertising world as a genius―some of the most iconic advertisements in the story came from him! 

Following his Creative Director job that ended in season 3, he became a founding partner at a new firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. 

The plot from season 4 to 7 focused on the struggles and challenges he faced in a new company. Each episode also showcased the people in his personal and professional lives, and the changing moods and social mores in the US throughout the 1960s and 1970s. 

As a legend and a genius in the advertising world, what do Draper’s experiences in the show teach viewers, especially those in the same industry as him? 

  1. Good relationships with customers matter. 

People prefer doing business with those they know, like, and trust. This is an important notion that executives at “Mad Men” have applied in their day-to-day processes. 

If you’re in the business industry or marketing industry, you must know how to connect with your target market and build good relationships with them. This will compel them to not only stay loyal to your brand but also talk about your business with their peers. 

Remember: In effective business relationships, being responsive, having a proactive attitude, and paying attention to consumers’ needs and wants are essential… but the strongest relationships are more than that! 

They include customers’ trust, loyalty, and a personal connection with your brand. 

  1. Loyalty is a virtue. 

Client conflicts are a common challenge that Draper and his team experience in the “Mad Men” series. 

Example: In one episode in season 2, Sterling Cooper drops an important client―one who’s had many transactions with them in the past―to pursue a deal with American Airlines. 

The unfortunate thing? 

Despite letting go of that major client of the firm, Draper and his team still failed to close a deal with the airline company. In the end, they not only lost a new client but also burned bridges with a quality client. 

While client conflicts should be evaluated on a case-to-case basis, one principle that applies to every case is that loyalty is never a bad policy. Even if an incoming client has a bigger budget, you must first ask yourself, 

“Is this worth burning bridges with our existing clients and endangering our firm’s reputation?” 

If you’re having a hard time answering this question, learn from Sterling Cooper’s mistake and think twice before letting a good client go. 

  1. You can’t be everything to everybody. 

You can’t hit multiple targets using a single arrow… so wouldn’t it be better to score a bullseye on one target? 

In a “Mad Men” episode where Draper attends a meeting with an auto parts store that can’t choose a business strategy, an overeager account manager suggests the business be positioned as a place “where the pros go” AND “where everyone else is welcome.” 

Draper immediately shuts that manager’s idea down by saying, 

“That’s not a strategy. That’s two strategies connected by the word ‘and.’” 

What does this message mean? 

In today’s business landscape, niche marketing tactics are becoming increasingly successful. However, many businesses still seek to increase their market share by casting their nets as wide as they can. They don’t realize it only makes them less unique and less outstanding in the industry they’re in. 

If you want your brand to stand out from the rest of your competitors, here’s one of the things you should do: Know your target market. Besides, you can’t possibly appeal to everyone… so choose a single marketing message or identity, and stick to it. 

  1. Great marketing consists of great storytelling. 

Draper’s TV commercial for Johnson’s Glo-Coat floor wax is one of the most creative storytelling on the series. The ad opens like a typical Western movie, complete with signature sound effects of a cowboy riding a horse in the Wild West. 

Then, in a stunning twist, the commercial reveals the cowboy is just the imagination of a lonely little kid who’s trapped under the kitchen table and waiting for the floor to dry. In the last frame, his mother enters and declares, “Footprints are no longer a hanging offense” while holding the Glo-Coat floor wax. 

If there’s something you can take away from this, it’s that Draper is regarded as a marketing genius because he’s a good storyteller. He can make even the most mundane product lively by using intriguing narratives that grab viewers’ attention. 

This principle applies to content marketing today. Whether you’re publishing a blog, video, or infographic, keep in mind that a great piece of content has an ability to hook your target market and tell a visual story in their minds

In fact, a study by software company IgniteTech states that 92% of consumers favor brand ads that feel like a story. This just shows that compelling storytelling is an important element in many marketing strategies. 

  1. Teamwork is important. 

Even though Draper seems to act like a lone wolf who plows through difficult client requests by himself, he’s actually surrounded by a team who supports and guides him in every situation. 

Example: Whether it’s the budding copywriter Peggy Olson, the insufferable account executive Pete Campbell, or the fierce office manager Joan Harris, everyone on Draper’s team contributes to Sterling Cooper’s growth. 

This shows that a good marketer knows that marketing is a huge machine with individual cogs that operate together to function properly. You can’t do everything by yourself. 

A single marketing effort is done in collaboration with different teams such as copywriters, graphic designers, analysts, and salespeople to create and package content that fits the right demographics through the right channels. 

Don Drapers of today don’t run marketing campaigns single-handedly. They acknowledge these strategies are a collective effort that require a deep understanding of consumers and the brand. 

There you have it―the marketing lessons you can learn from Don Draper and the “Mad Men” series! 

If there’s one common thread in this list of insights, it’s the immutable fact that… 

Customer is king

This is evident in marketing and advertising, where success depends on how well you understand the needs and wants of customers. Without good analysis, there will be no great content or effective distribution of messages. 

Take note of these tips as you manage your business or work as a marketer! 

As Draper says, 

“Advertising is based on one thing: Happiness.” 

It’s your job to deliver that happiness to your customers, whether in the form of a product, a service, or anything else. With the help of good relationships, loyalty, focus, great content, and teamwork, you’ll be closer towards achieving your business and marketing goals. 

We hope you find these insights helpful! 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy. 

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators. 

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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