Advertising Techniques for 2015: Don’t Rely on Don Draper

Kimberly Burghart December 22, 2014

Don Draper of Mad Men is sometimes considered to be inspirational for marketers—and not because of his colorful life of women and drinking. His character is intended to represent the ideal advertiser, coming up with brilliant campaigns at snap judgments that win over customers instantly. In 2015, relying on your instincts isn’t going to fly.

If you want to be considered the Don Draper of 2015, that may not be the best goal. There are definitely some things you’ll need to do differently than in the fictional 1960s. Don Draper never could’ve dreamed of the many internet marketing tools we now have. Telling a story like Don did is still as important as ever, but new advertising techniques rely on consumer data and analysis.


Using Tools to Track Consumer Data

Nowadays, you’re not going off your gut like Don Draper; you need the data to back it up. Luckily, the Internet can provide you with plenty of opportunity to collect that data. Ads can now be very specifically targeted with social media. Think of the ads you see on Facebook that are influenced by your posts and meant to appeal to you. Using software like MyBuys allows you to track what people do online and then have them see different advertisement content based on what they’ve viewed, clicked, and purchased. You can also collect data about what links the receivers are clicking in your marketing emails.


Personalize Your Message: Tell a Story

Don Draper’s best ad ideas are often based around a story, and presenting that story is how he sells his ads to his clients. One of his most iconic pitches is for Kodak’s Carousel slide projector, in which he is shown renaming the product from “The Wheel.” Don plays on nostalgia by saying that the projector wheel is a carousel that allows you to travel through your memories.

In the show, Don Draper presents his idea, and that’s it—viewers can assume that it works. That’s no longer the case, but telling a compelling story that appeals to customers’ emotions is still important. In fact, it’s even more important. Consumers nowadays are savvy and conduct a lot of online research about what they’re going to purchase. They know their data is being tracked on social media, and they know when you’re trying to sell something. Until your leads are actually in the decision stage, they’re not ready to buy. Trying to sell them something too soon will turn them off to your products and services. That’s why it’s so crucial to tell a story and make it personalized.


Test the Success of Emails Before Sending

Marketing emails should be very targeted and never “sales-y.” People can identify a sales email right away.  Instead of pushing a product or service, you want to make sure you’re sending them something of value—like a blog post or whitepaper with helpful information. What makes a good email shouldn’t be based on your gut either.


Conducting A/B testing with two different subject lines can tell you which email people are more likely to click. When doing A/B testing for a subject line, you send out two potential subject lines to see which has the better open rate. Based on how your test emails perform, you can know which to send to the rest of your subscribers. Your emails can also be segmented to different subscribers based on where they are in the sales process—are they in the decision stage where they are weighing possible solutions, or are they simply interested in some helpful information? You have more success when you send the right emails to the right subscribers.


Don Draper’s success is fictional, but his character is living in a different age, an age where consumers and marketers both lacked a lot of the information gathering tools they have now. Would a lot of his mistakes have been mistakes then? Maybe not, but we’re in a new era, and it’s time to abandon the old ways and rely on data, not gut instincts. Go ahead and take inspiration from Don Draper, but make use of the new tools to improve your advertising techniques for 2015.


Are you a fan of Don Draper? What advertising techniques do you use for your business?  Give us a shout in the comments below!

Have questions about what advertising techniques will work well for your business? Contact us today and speak to an online marketing expert.


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