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Can Mad Men Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Published: July 23, 2013       Updated: May 13, 2024

3 min read

Mad Men and Content Marketing

If you haven’t heard about AMC’s Mad Men, you clearly have too much going on in your life. The 15-time Emmy winner takes viewers into the crazy world of a 1960s New York advertising agency that has more secrets and scandals than the entire JFK administration. (Come on, a tiny part of you believes he actually did build those tunnels for Marilyn.)

So why is Mad Men a good business model for your content marketing strategy? Simple. In a time before social media and viral videos, business owners relied on advertisers to get their product noticed. Today, business owners are no longer dependent on advertising firms, but that doesn’t mean you should forget their tricks of the trade.

Focus on Storytelling
Don Draper is not a nice guy. He lies, he cheats, he disappears for days (or weeks) at a time. If he acted like this today he would be dumped faster than Chris Brown. So why does he have so much power? Because he knows how to tell a story. People put up with his flaws because he has the ability to transport clients, and their customers, to another world.

When it comes to content, you have to make it special. Don and Peggy are constantly seen working nights, weekends and holidays to find the perfect storyline for a pitch. It’s important to take your time to really think about what you want to say about your business and the best way to go about it. Consumers constantly have content hurled at them. You have to find a way to make yours stand out.

Think Multidimensional
Today, people aren’t reading print. They’re on their laptops, tablets and smart phones. Consumers are on the go and they want something they can digest quickly. If your content can’t transition across those platforms, it’s not going to get read.

This is also true of media outlets. Too many content marketing firms think putting out a press release is enough when they should really be working towards a press release, blog post, byline article, social media updates and an email campaign. The key to winning content is to stretch it as far as possible.

Give Readers an Experience
The real reason anybody falls in love with a product is not necessarily because of the product itself. It’s more about how they think their life will be better with the product.

Don does this all the time. The Kodak Carousel pitch from Season 1 convinced clients that the product would make it possible for them to relive their happiest memories at the touch of a button. The Hershey’s pitch from Season 6 (the first one, not the one where Don gets the sudden urge to tell everyone he grew up in a brothel) paints a picture of a fantastic father-son relationship made possible by a chocolate bar.

Consumers don’t want you to tell them why they need your product, they want you to show them, and they want to be entertained.

Know Your Audience
In order to sell your product, you’ve got to target the correct audience. This means the people coming up with the outreach plan have to think like your target market.

Take the Belle Jolie episode from Season 1. Rather than using a bunch of middle-aged men to come up with pitches for a lipstick company, they enlist their secretaries. If you really want to make your business appealing to customers, you have to think like them.

Creating an effective content marketing plan isn’t that hard, it just takes a little more time and creativity. If you need some inspiration, grab a bowl of popcorn and turn on some Mad Men reruns – even if it’s just for Megan’s fashion or Joan’s sarcasm.

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