MadMenWe’ve come a long way in the last few years.

Pretty much everyone knows the definition of blog.

Most ad agencies – and people, for that matter – are on Facebook.

We’ve stopped putting ‘the’ in front of Twitter and LinkedIn.

And many of the Big Insights and thought leadership we’ve heard and re-tweeted have simply become the way we connect and do day-to-day business.

The insights such as:

  • Be transparent and authentic on social networks.
  • Don’t sell; tell stories that engage your community.
  • Develop a strategy and be able to nimbly adapt.
  • ROI matters. Set up measurable goals and don’t be afraid of numbers.
  • It’s important to know where your audience is and go where there.

For the past year or so, I’ve noticed these same sage proclamations keep popping up at conferences, in webinars, and in blog posts.

Now don’t get me wrong, they’re still extremely important. But it dawned on me that as social media has crossed the line from indie to mainstream, these principles have become embedded in the way we work.

And now many of us are on the same page. So… if that’s the case, where’s the next wave of innovations going to come from?

Start Drinking at 10 A.M.

Maybe it’s because they have new episodes, but I think we can find the answers in the turbulent and tipsy world of Mad Men.

Here are three ways your ad agency can stand out:

  1. Begin with a brilliant idea. Color TV was just catching on in the mid 60s, yet you don’t hear the Sterling Cooperites talking about color, color, color when they’re dreaming up ads. That’s just the tool, very much like social networks are today. Don and his team know the idea – that perfect fusion of strategy + creativity – is the ultimate goal. That’s what they strive for, not the channel that delivers it.
  2. Woo your customers. You have to fall in love with them and get them to feel the same about you. On Mad Men, they’re wined, dined and…well, let’s not go there. If you don’t place your customer on a pedestal, understand their needs, and treat them like the most important people on the planet, you’ll always be a service provider and nothing more. Sterling Cooper knows that implicitly, and also accepts that if they cheat on a relationship (i.e. Heinz Beans), they may be in for a messy breakup.
  3. Get the chemistry right. I think we’ve all worked in places when the people just don’t gel, office politics reigns supreme, everyone is paranoid and crazy. The output…? Well, it lacks energy, that’s for sure. You need some healthy competition and conflicts, and there’s plenty of that on Mad Avenue. But ultimately, their workplace, like the show itself, functions as an ensemble cast with stars. They like, respect, and admire each other – and even Don grudgingly realizes the best idea can come from anyone.

Sure, there’s going to be another shiny tool around the corner (and I can’t wait to try it!), but sometimes we need to look backwards in order to move ahead. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce really could be the ad agency of the future.

What do you think?

Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman, MCM, APR, is a senior advisor to Spin Sucks and runs a consultancy, Martin Waxman Communications. He leads digital and social media training workshops, conducts AI research, and is a LinkedIn Learning author and one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast. Martin teaches social media at McMaster University, the Schulich School of Business, Seneca College, and the UToronto SCS and regularly speaks at conferences and events across North America.

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