Don Draper Can’t Sell To Millennials

Mad Men is over. Not only is the beloved story about sad men in suits finding more and more beautiful ways to push ads in your face now finished… the beautiful way they shoved ads in your face is finished too.

And in hindsight, it wasn’t all that beautiful.

Today’s most effective marketing strategies bear little in common with the best marketing from the 20th century. People today do far more research before they buy, they’re less likely to look at a billboard because they’ve got their heads in their phones, and if we’re not even bothering to take a call from our friends because they could just text us… we’re certainly are less likely to take a call from a salesperson.

But that was Outbound Marketing: advertisements that tried to force themselves in front of your face, and then hoped they were cool enough to keep your attention.

Basically they were men at bars. They see you going about your day, they come up with some line to get your attention, and then hope they can convince you to listen to their sales pitch.

I’m kind of glad Man Men is over.

Outbound Marketing is still a significant part of today’s world. Pop-ups are Outbound Marketing in digital flesh. But it isn’t the only game in town anymore. More and more businesses are catching on to it’s inefficiencies, and thankfully there’s a brand new way to market yourself that fits in perfectly with the way people are living online.

Enter the Content Economy.

If Outbound Marketing was a megaphone, allowing advertisers to blast themselves into your ears, Content Marketing is a magnet that attracts people to your business simply because you’re giving them more of what they want.

Here’s how it breaks down.

What’s more valuable? A billboard, or two square inches on your Facebook feed? The answer is obvious.The billboard is bigger, but the Facebook feed lives in your pocket. You’re constantly reaching for it, engaging with it, and on a good day, you see something you like. Maybe it’s a blog, or a video, or anything that answers a question you’ve been having.

You want to be the one to answer that question.

Your blog, your video, your post should be the thing that scratches whatever itch this online stranger is feeling. And it doesn’t necessarily sell them anything. It’s just valuable content, and they see it’s from you. The question it answers has to do with your industry, and so you know you’re attracting potential customers. And when they realize they’re getting their best content from your company, who do they go to when they want to make a purchase?

Content primarily does three things: Builds Brand, Builds Trust, and Builds Authority

Leaving out the sales pitch from your content is not some kind of reverse psychology. Millennials look for content that they feel is sincere. What’s less sincere than every word that led up to the phrase “so I’ve got this amazing product”…?

But the fact is, we DO have these great products! So how do we remain sincere while actually making a sale?

1) Build Authority - The more you can convince someone you know what you’re talking about, the more you’ve convinced them that your product is actually going to effectively address their needs. Become an authority in your field, and you’ll be who the customer goes to when they want to make a purchase.

2) Build Trust - One of the reasons video content is becoming so popular is that it puts a face to the pop-up. A pop-up is a random annoyance that seemed to crash onto my screen from some virtual Hell. It may be tailor-made to my interest because it incorporates my past google searches, and it may also put the idea of a product in my head. But it almost certainly annoys me, and it doesn’t make me appreciate the brand. But a video lets me judge the contents of someone’s character. I see them as a person and the more they can do to convince me of their goodwill, they become a trusted advisor, and not just a greedy salesman.

All of this, taken together, becomes the bedrock on which you build your brand. You’re a respected expert in your field. You’re a good neighbor who creates free content that entertains your potential customers while proving to be actually useful to them. And with every quality contribution you make to my FB feed, the more I love your brand. So don’t push your product in front of my face. Say the things and do the things that make me like you before we’ve ever met. So then I seek you out. And now you’re no longer that guy in the bar shoving himself in my face because he learned all the wrong lessons from Mad Men.

The more I think about it, I'm really glad Mad Men is over.