So I’m a little slow on the uptake of the hit AMC series, Mad Men, but I just got an Apple tv (slow on the uptake of that too) and although I spent the holidays physically with my family, I was actually in the 1960s NYC advertising world (and might still be). It goes without saying that the show is entirely consuming, but when I decided to come up for air, I had a few things stick with me.
1. Be Genuine
At one point in the show, one of the ad men runs into an obstacle with an account and turns to a colleague for help. His solution was a tangled series of lies and his colleague replies, “Just tell the truth and don’t worry about the outcome. People respect that.” I talk a lot about the importance of being authentic and real when employing marketing and sales tactics. It’s no surprise that as technology advances, the human aspect we all crave diminishes. But what we are seeing is that those who succeed today do so because they combine the power of technology with a human interpretation of data to create an engaging and relevant experience for their audience. I’m personally a huge advocate for honesty because life is just easier that way, but unfortunately I may be the minority in that department. Just be real, even if it means you have to expose a weakness…the outcome may turn out better than you expect.]
2. The NOW
While in a waiting room at a hospital as his wife was in labor, the main ad man Don Draper, tells another gentleman in the room, “Our worst fears lie in anticipation.” We all want to be successful and we all want everything to pan out perfectly but none of it will ever happen if we are constantly thinking and living in the future, anticipating the next big thing. As we look ahead, it is a natural response to become fearful of what might happen or what could happen to our campaigns. Let it go. We are here now. We are not here tomorrow and we cannot change where we were yesterday. Of course you have to put together a 2016 marketing plan and that requires thinking of the future, but the moment you become consumed in thinking about rare possibilities is the moment you stop working toward avoiding it or achieving it.
3. Take Control
In marketing and advertising a tumultuous flurry of words and meanings are thrown at us all in an effort to make us think a certain way or to create a perception. At one point in the show the ad men are dealing with a tobacco client and all of the negative media around it, and the main ad man Don says, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” I’m not a smoker and I don’t condone wild consumer manipulation, but I do believe that marketing is all about angles. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to create a perception, especially despite overwhelming odds against you/your brand – because creating a perception is also creating reality…which is a nice segue into my next takeaway.
4. Realize the Power of Marketing
As I just mentioned, marketers have the ability to create a perception…to create a reality. One of the characters in the show discloses to Don Draper (main character) that she has never been in love. His response? “You haven’t felt it because it doesn’t exist. What you call ‘love’ was invented by guys like me. To sell nylons.” Marketing and advertising are vastly powerful and can have lasting impacts that oftentimes affect society as a whole. Be strategic with how you say things and when you say them – always consider your audience. What an amazing advantage modern marketers have today with the power of data to guide us in our decisions and our direction. Without data, understanding the power of marketing (for good or for evil) would be a tough learning experience.
5. Be YOU.
My final takeaway may be the most important – in or outside of the marketing world. A female secretary in the show is striving to become a copywriter at the firm and while taking care of a successful business woman after a car accident, she says to the young girl, “No one will tell you this, but you can’t be a man. Don’t even try. Be a woman. Powerful business when done correctly.” It’s a natural inclination to want to be successful and when we see success we usually try to emulate it. It’s not that this is wrong, emulating success has its pluses, but in order to experience unmatched success and true personal fulfillment, we have to be who we are, even if that means being vulnerable or sometime failing. Male or female, marketing or sales, young or old – we are who we are and if that is tapped into then the possibilities for success are endless. No one can be YOU, only you can, so take advantage of your differences and leverage them.
I’ve been putting this blog together in between Mad Men episodes and it seems that the episodes are getting more attention than the blog. So with that, I will continue giving my attention to the show (and work) and let this simmer. Thoughts and comments are always welcome!
***Tip of the hat to Netflix for enabling my binge.