Five things content marketers can learn from Mad Men’s Don Draper

With the seventh and final series of the hit TV show Mad Men just around the corner, we take a look at what content marketers can learn from the show's leading man, Don Draper.

28 Mar 2014
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Luke Cope

Your brand, no matter how small, will have inevitably built up some sort of online brand reputation over time. This could be good, could be bad or worse of all people could be saying absolutely nothing about your brand online.

 Content Marketing is an ideal method of subtly changing perceptions of your brand by altering points of views over a period of time. Try to understand your audience and their issues then use content and social media platforms to change the conversation.

Think about McDonalds, an extremely well known brand but they receive a lot of negative press over health issues. The McDonalds affiliation with the Olympics and other various ‘health’ content lead campaigns has had one aim: changing people’s perceptions or at very least eliminating the element of guilt that comes with consuming McDonalds.


Your content campaigns don’t always have to re-invent the wheel. They can be based on simple ideas as long as those ideas are significant to the personas you are targeting. Often the most straightforward subjects are the ones that really tap into the interests and motivations of your personas. These simple, appealing campaigns can then be built on with more sophisticated content going forward.

Unilever’s Dove campaign ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ attracted over 60 million Youtube views and it was based on the straightforward idea of how we perceive ourselves compared to how others see us. This campaign didn’t involve fancy graphics or interactive features, but it addressed highly emotive issues and was very successful as a result. (


Without a doubt the worst fear we have as content marketers is the anticipation leading up to a content launch. The simple fact is that not every piece of content is going to pull up trees. If you have a strong strategy which you are confident in then more pieces will succeed than fail, but both marketers and clients need to be aware that not everything will perform. Although you can take steps to increase your chances of success, content marketing is not (yet) an exact science.

If you bear this fact in mind and gain experience in producing content on a regular basis then you will eventually eliminate these pre-launch fears and maximise your chances of content marketing success.


This is a biggie when it comes to content marketing. It’s counterproductive to create content that is on a par with competitors and everyone else involved in your brand’s industry. Taking someone else’s good content ideas and improving them or tailoring them to your specific niche is a good strategy, but to really get traction from your content you need to stand above the rest.

It’s not a case of just thinking big but thinking different. The piece of content that makes you stand out from the crowd is the piece that generates a year’s worth of inbound links or catapults your brand directly into the view of its buyer personas. That’s the type of content that really alters perceptions, raises brand awareness and ultimately counts as ‘success’.


With so much content and opinion bandied around the current social media scene it seems as though everybody does indeed feel the need to talk about everything. As brands however, you need to clearly identify your persona’s interests and your own brand tone in order to be specific with your chosen subjects.

For example If you’re in the legal sector it would probably serve you well to keep away from social posts about what happened on last night’s X Factor (A show Don would despise I’m sure). It’s not about what you (the person in charge of social and content) are into but more about what your target personas are going to actively engage with. Develop a list of suitable interests for each persona and don’t stray too far away from your brand values. Keep on track and don’t fall into social media wilderness by trying to overstretch your niche.

Listed in:  Digital Marketing