Mad Men on Advertising

I watched a Mad Men marathon July 4th weekend. I had to prepare for the new episodes that begin July 25th. This was a must do. I love this drama as much as I loved Law and Order; and the Sopranos.

Well, I took notes whenever the advertising team actually worked on ad copy. Here is what I learned:

 Advertising is based on one thing – i.e. happiness!
o Freedom from fear
o Whatever you are doing, it’s ok – and you are ok
o Mad Men Example #1 – instead of revealing that cigarettes are poisonous, state that cigarettes are toasted tobacco leaves (say whatever you want)
o Mad Men Example #2 – instead of revealing how dangerous it might be to travel to Israel, exploit a land of exotic luxury

 Ads create want!

You know I studied civil engineering and law. I also learned city planning on the job and became a certified city planner. I have three (3) degrees but I do not have a MBA. So, I am no advertising or marketing expert if being an expert requires college degrees, licenses, or certificates. As with most small business owners, we wear all of the hats until we can hire the credentials. So, I have had to learn advertisement, promotion, marketing, public relations, and sales – and more importantly, the difference between them all. What has always been fascinating to me is that there are MBAs and PhDs in businesses that were not trained in these subject areas in a practical way. They were taught theory; and some learned via case studies. But, you only really learn when you have to actually do it!

Well, although I do not have a MBA, I do own a neat little book called The Portable MBA Desk Reference. I dusted it off and read the sections on Advertising. Here, I reflect on what the Portable MBA teaches and compare that text to what I have experienced as a small business owner over the past five (5) years:

(1) Advertising is the promotion of an idea, a product, or a service by an identified sponsor or organization that pays to have the message printed or broadcast by the mass media, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, telemarketing, billboards, transit cards, and the Internet.

Well, as a small business owner, there was absolutely no money for print or broadcast by the mass media other than the Internet. Mass mailing cost a minimum of nearly $0.50 per piece of mail. So, to mail 100 letters a week costs $50 per week or $200 per month. Back in 2005, I also hung a shingle for a law office. I paid for Martindale and other paid directories. It was VERY expensive! My phone did not ring once. It was hard earned money flushed down the toilet.

Unless there is cash flow, this nominal sum could crush a small business. Start ups absolutely need to take advantage of free advertising sources on the Internet (microblog on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, etc).
Macro blogs (e.g. using WordPress) and the conversion of blogs into published articles, teleseminars, webinars, and ebooks are also helpful ways to advertise in a frugal way. These activities help small businesses position themselves as experts. These activities need to be viewed as ad campaigns and they need to be taken just as seriously.

(2) An advertising agency is a company specializing in the production of advertising campaigns and strategies to help clients target and promote their products and services. There are three types: full service (advertising, public relations, marketing research, promotion, media buying, and publicity), specialty service, and in-house.

Well, few startups can afford a full service or specialty service advertising agency. They have to handle their own ads in-house. Further, the small business owner has to either learn how to advertise or hire help. I learned “some” advertising by studying what others were doing. I select what I like and I mimic it. Just take notice and replicate what you can afford!

(3) Advertising frequency is the number of times during a specified period that a member of a targeted audience is exposed to an advertisement – in popular magazines, television, radio ads. Frequent advertising can strengthen brand loyalty and help drive them to a product or service.

Well, I had to learn how to “get out there”. I am old enough to remember entering into the big, black hole called the Internet back in the 90s. I remember a group of us at work saying: “she is going to go in there” with excitement and astonishment. Well, I felt the same way about going into Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin worlds.

Social media is a great free way to achieve advertising frequency. The hard sell is not recommended. But, the soft sales of just letting the masses know what your passion is recommended. My passion is planning. I post famous quotes about the importance of strategic planning (vision, mission, goals, taking action). I am my firm’s brand and I am building brand loyalty.

As a planner, I realize the importance of creating ad campaigns. As a business woman, I realize that people buy from others that trust and like. Social media is a great way to share information, and to become trusted and liked. It is also a great way to use word of mouth advertising where satisfied customers refer products or services to prospects.

(4) Behavioral segmentation is the subdivision of the market according to consumer behavior variables such as their status, brand loyalty, product usage, benefits sought, lifestyle, social class, and economic standing. Markets can be divided by age, gender, income, and geography. None of this gives marketers insight into consumer motivation. Consumers look for benefits and they make their choices on the basis of a single value which vary depending on the product.

This is loaded. My interpretation of all of this is that put simply, the market research cannot predict consumer gut reaction to what you are selling. In consulting, we are selling our talent and who we are as people – our individual images or the corporation’s image. The benefits would be our ability to impart what we know and who we know onto our clients. The key value is our ability to get the job done on time and within budget. With respect to promoting image, our charitable work is also very important.

Nevertheless, as a planner, I do believe in strategic marketing plans. This is actually one of the services we offer. We offer a strategic marketing plan for government contracting. It is important not to shot gun the approach – but rather, to laser target which agencies may be best to market to.

(5) Point of purchase advertising uses eye catching displays near the location where customers pay for a product in an attempt to trigger impulse buying.

Here, I would have recommend that small businesses invest money and hire professionals if necessary for professional graphic design. Even for banner ads online which are posted in locations where our prospects visit – hire a professional graphic designer to achieve a great first impression.

In conclusion, small businesses need to be frugal and maximize the use of online social media for advertising. But, they need to be sure to follow Donald Draper’s advice and be positive, create happiness, and create want! Also, point out the pain and fear of pain – but be sure to point out that your product or services can alleviate the fear of pain.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

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