1. Sometimes you just have to trust your gut
Sitting down with a 90 page report of analytics is fine, and it’s completely necessary here and there. Keeping a watchful eye on your numbers is important in monitoring which strategy works and which conversion rate could be higher. Additionally, your clients will almost always want to see these stats, and rightly so.
And yeah, spending 45 minutes each day scanning your Google Reader social media best practices list will surely help you employ new strategies from time to time.
But if marketing doesn’t make sense to you, if you don’t have gut feelings about new tag lines, the return on relationships, and genuine ways to present your client, you’re going to have a much harder time in social media marketing. We can’t all be Don Draper and just magically produce killer, highly successful ad schemes, but learn to trust your gut here. Piecing together ten blogs for your next marketing program tag line will only get you so far.
2. Dress the part
Mad Men sparked a vintage revolution that resulted in countless, slightly contrived Mad Men parties–the only requirement being put-together vintage-inspired dress. Draper and Sterling are always caught in perfectly styled, pressed suits, and I mean, Don keeps something like seven new white button-down shirts in his office, just in case.
The way we dress is a signal to the people with whom we interact. If we show up to a client meeting in jeans and a white v-neck–I don’t care if it’s from Nordstrom’s–we’re sending a far different signal than if we show up dressed-to-kill.
If the client calls for it, jeans and that v-neck might actually be better suited than, well, a suit, but use your discretion when opting for that casual Friday look. Save it for informal individuals or small groups of creatives.
3. Court your clients
When you work as an employee, work falls into your lap, or, possibly more appropriately, into stacks on your desk. Unless you were an account manager, you don’t likely see the courting of the clients that happens each time a new account comes on.
Roger and Pete excel at this, and I don’t blame them for leaving out Don, with his proclivity for speeches, sarcasm, and general condescension. Roger and Pete understand that bringing on a new client is actually like courting a significant other before you both jump into a serious relationship. This is normal and encouraged.
I’m not recommending you spend hundreds taking the top dogs to dinner and lavishing them with well, lap dances, because that’s.. illegal. But remember to always prepare above and beyond the expectation, ask a lot of questions, and don’t just show an interest in your client–develop one, if it’s not already there. Faking is will make your job so, so much harder.
4. Napping in the office isn’t always a bad thing
If by office, you mean that corner of our open loft apartment that has a desk against the wall.
In all seriousness, I don’t typically recommend napping during business hours, but I’m not a huge fan of naps in the first place. What I do recommend is taking a break when you’re feeling uninspired. Forcing it will usually frustrate you and make inspiration even more elusive.
Marketer’s block? Spend a half hour watching mindless TV, do some yoga, eat a piece of cake, whatever. When you come back to your work, you’ll be approaching it from a new perspective, no matter how slight. Worse than that? Put that client off until tomorrow, unless it absolutely must be done today. Forcing something that’s not working right now will only result in taking “the long way” to the conclusion, when inspiration, or simply a fresh perspective, likely means flow and more effective speed of work.
Oh yeah, don’t keep your client clock running when you’re watching TV. That’s frowned upon.
5. Keep a running list and barometer of your clients
Each of the ad agencies in Mad Men boast several account guys, and at partner meetings, they address their list of clients and how happy they are, how a bad meeting might need to be made up for, likelihood of resigning, etc.
The point is to not settle in to a client and let them rest on the back burner. Each client is crucial to your livelihood, so treat them that way. Make sure you know how your clients are feeling about you and your work at any given time, so you can continue a well-working relationship or attempt to make up for a mistake that soured them a bit.
6. Delivery is everything
We as humans might have rabid imaginations, but when it comes to pitching a new marketing scheme, don’t depend on it. Remember how crucial Megan was to the Coolwhip pitch? The believability between Megan and Don played a huge role in the success of the scheme, until Peggy had to step in.
You’re not necessarily out there designing commercials, but remember that it helps your client to envision something when they don’t have to take too many steps in their own imagination. Pitch with passion and confidence, otherwise your clients will be able to read your apathy and insecurity into the plan. And who wants to pay for an apathetic, insecure marketing plan?
7. You can reinvent yourself as you see fit
Don didn’t go to college for advertising. In fact, his name isn’t even Don Draper, but I’d change my name, too, if I were christened with “Dick Whitman”. While I don’t encourage stealing dog tags off a fellow soldier at war, we can still learn something from Don’s approach.
He didn’t wait for someone to say, “OK, you’re an expert now. Go apply for ad agency jobs!” He wanted that life, so he made it happen. He started small by developing a book during his job as a car salesman and confidently approached Roger a couple times for the gig.
Take initiative and learn about what you love. Take the plunge and be what you want.
8. Don’t fear the follow-up
So many consultants refuse to ask for the job and then sit around wondering why they never heard from such a promising lead. If these guys were ever in sales, they probably silently fumed as they watched their coworkers close these sales that were “theirs”.
If you don’t follow up, you’re telling the client that you don’t really care about the job. We can relate this to dating–if, after a great date, a guy never calls you for another outing, what are you going to think? If he’s sitting at home thinking, “Well, if she really liked me and wanted to “hire” me, she’d call me.”
Don’t be obnoxious, but don’t fear asking for the gig. That’s what we’re all here for.
9. Confidence is key
While adopting this principle in every aspect of your life might lead others to believe you’re part robot, or at least mostly cold and calculating, exuding confidence in your work and with clients is 100% foundational.
Find the line between confidence in your knowledge and skill… and arrogance. Arrogance separates your clients for you, whereas confidence rubs off on them. They’ll be just as confident in your services as you are.
Not confident? Find what’s holding you back. Don’t think you know the academic terms as well as you should? Buy a book. Not sure your rates are right? Do some research and put some time into breaking down what you should get paid and why. Figure out whatever your weakest link is and strengthen it.
10. The client will almost always want to change something
If you’ve never had a client want to change anything about anything you do, then it’s probably because they think you have a violent side. The nature of consultancy is that clients will use you to find exactly what they want to implement at their business.
You’re coming in from the outside and trying to meld. Quickly. You aren’t going to have the immediate brand understanding that they do, and that’s OK. Do as much as research as possible to find what you think they’ll love, coupled with what will work.
That being said, you don’t have to be seen and not heard. Remember who’s working for whom–the client comes first–but advising them based on your experience will [most likely] be welcomed.
The bottom line is: Don’t get upset when the client wants to tweak something. How many clients turned down incredible branding ideas at Sterling Cooper? If you want to force your vision, you might as well start your own company in their industry.
Happy client, happy life. Not necessarily as catchy, but, well.. yeah.
11. You can always hide your pregnancy with the right dresses or thyroid problem