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7 essential lessons to learn from "Mad Men"

7 essential lessons to learn from "Mad Men" David Zaleski

Advertising is about occupying the space between the customer's ears

If there's one thing "Mad Men" has taught us, it's that the goal of intelligent advertising is not to sell, sell, sell. It's to get inside the customer's mind and stay there. Once you plant the seed, the customer lets it grow. When that happens, your brand turns into something much more than a product; it will become a personality.

Doug Weaver, CEO of the Upstream Group, speaks about why today's marketing world needs to relearn the fundamental lesson of creating a spark inside the mind of the consumer.

If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the subject

Another snarky but smooth way to change an unfavorable reality is to have the tact to steer the conversation to a better place. If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the subject. Be bold enough to take command of the narrative and alter it. The ad industry has suffered a lot of bad press; you have the power to change the tone with your work.

Drink more, dress for success, and always be the smartest person in the room

Of course, what lessons could we relate to more than the Don Draper character classics: Drink more, dress right, and be the smartest one in the room. That's "Mad Men" style, baby.

The client does not always know best

What do you do if your client insists on a bad idea? Many agencies (for fear of getting fired) are apprehensive to push back.

Not Don Draper.

The marketers at television's hottest ad agency are not afraid to tell a client that an idea is terrible. Draper isn't afraid to push the envelope or go against the research. It's a quality in today's agencies that's been lost. Kolin Kleveno of 360i tells iMedia why the 21st century marketing industry needs to resurrect this practice.

Overall, advertising is about telling a story

The digital world has every marketer bogged down with data, statistics, and a sense of immediate need to prove instant ROI. The world moves so much more quickly than it did in the '60s. Is it any wonder why advertising has lost its sense of purpose? "Mad Men" and Don Draper remind marketers that advertising is fundamentally storytelling. You can still have the big data and CTRs, but you need to get the good, old-fashioned basics down.

Be confident in the power of a good idea

Even if your idea is good, you're not going to sell it to everyone right away. In fact, most good ideas sound like bad ones when they are first pitched. If you have a marketing or advertising concept that is out-of-the-box, chances are that you are going to need to defend it. Don't back down if you believe it will work. Use proof and statistics to back up your pitch, and be confident in your creation.

Be honest and raw, especially with clients

Marketing is in the habit of blowing smoke when it's not needed. "Mad Men" exemplifies the power of raw honesty. Does it always work out well? No. But sometimes the situation calls for a no-BS attitude. In today's politically correct world, this is something that has been terribly missed.

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"Mad-men-logo" image via Social Solutions Collective.

David Zaleski is the Media Production Supervisor for iMedia Communications, Inc. and Comexposium USA. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Film & Television Production, specializing in editing, animation, and...

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