Don Draper On Business And Marketing

I have always said that I am weary of people who don’t eat meat and claim they don’t watch TV. As readers of this column know, I am always amazed by what we can learn from television, especially good television like the AMC Original Program “Madmen.” This series presented a virtual treasure trove of sayings, ideas, tactics, and strategies. I am not ashamed to admit that I often watched this show with pen and notebook in hand ready to steal some of the pearls of wisdom that fell out of Don Draper’s mouth. If you don’t believe me go back to season one and watch the episode titled “Carousal” It still blows me away.

Over the years I have collected a number of Don Draper’s most famous and pertinent quotes about advertising, marketing, and business as a whole. Many of them have become the basis of my thinking when I am working on a new strategy program for one of my clients.

So, for those of you who don’t watch TV, and for those of you who do but cannot get by an episode of “The Bachelor”, here from Don Draper, the greatest Madman of all time, are these pearls of wisdom:

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. Yes we buy based on how the product or service makes us feel. Whether it be the kind of beer we drink or the car we drive it’s all about what the product makes us feel like.

Success comes from standing out, not fitting in. I love this one. So much genius has been quashed by people trying to fit in. By people not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, or worse yet being ostracized because of their ideas. 

Change is neither good nor bad. It simply is. Why are we so scared of change? The greatest innovators are those who embrace change. Or better still are those who create change. Those are the crazy ones, the ones who think different as Mr. Jobs so succinctly pointed out

You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself. Don’t wait to be appointed, don’t beg to be published, don’t ask for permission to be innovative, just do it. Just jump in the middle of the ring and get it done right now. Do not let your success depend on someone else.

If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. Another favorite. Who said you have to go along with someone else’s narrative? You know what I’m talking about. When people say things like, “This is the way we have always done it,” Or “Everybody does it this way,” Or “We’re no worse than anyone else.” Or any other of the BS sayings. You don’t have to go along with these old saws. In fact, you should not go along with them. You need to find ways to change the narrative to a more productive and innovative one. Especially if you want to be outstanding. Especially if you want to make your mark in the world.

People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone. All you have to do is look around you to see how true this is. Whether it is people claiming that their political opponents eat babies in the back of pizza parlors, or people believing that the Kardashians do actually matter and have something to contribute. Or people following some stupid cult religion. People are so desperate to believe in something they will believe in anything!

The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them. Yes, in many ways this is true. You have to feel about your client exactly the way you felt when you were selling them. You have to have that kind of fresh and serious consideration. In fact, the way to be successful with a client is to never ever stop selling them. Always act like you could lose them in a flash… and you never will.

You are the product. No matter what you are selling, in the end you are selling yourself. You are the product. People buy from people when it comes down to it. They buy because of you. Because they trust you.

What you call ‘love’ was invented by guys like me to sell nylons. I love this one! It can be nylons, or perfume, or diamonds or his and her Ford F-150s for Christmas, nothing truer has ever been said.

I know that these quotes capture some of the wit, wisdom, and cynicism that defined Don Draper’s character throughout the series. How about you? Do you have your favorites? How about from other television heroes, do you have any? If not, you’re missing out big time. Do yourself a big favor and reach for that remote. It’s only common sense.