I am starting a series of blogs that are a bit different from my usual relevant apps…except that using Social Media is often the best way to get a relevant application off the ground…

Recently, my wife and I started watching the series Mad Men.  For the uninitiated, Mad Men is a drama about the Madison Avenue advertising agencies of the 1960’s.  Embedded amongst the dalliances and mysteries of Don Draper and the social commentary on the early 60’s are the fundamentals of marketing products and services. Mad Men is a compelling show that also sparks the business interest of a marketing person.

I am currently helping my wife’s real estate practice come to grips with social networking marketing as a way to expand their business.  They have hired a web/Internet specialist and each of them is starting to dabble in blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and even (gasp) Twitter. They are asking questions about Google Key words and how can they get their website higher on the search results.  The conversation usually includes “you lost me at HTML” or “what will a ‘tweet’ do for me?”  I spend a great deal of time trying to keep them from being overwhelmed by the technology by asking them about what their marketing objectives are so that I can better guide them on what these new tools can do for them.

As I work through the explanations of how to make Social Networking marketing work, I am reminded that most of the embedded lessons in Mad Men still hold true today. Granted, there are some profound differences, such as the media used. For Mad Men, print and TV dominate whereas today it is mostly Internet and apps. The timing involved with programs is drastically different. Today it is all about now whereas Mad Men had deadlines in terms of weeks or months.  The tools are different; however overall, the basic marketing principles must remain true for success.

Regardless of the era, goals and objectives are about increasing sales, brand or public image. Principles include gaining attention and building loyalty/retention. The focus is always about what people want or need and getting good information to the consumer/user. Remembering to keep your objectives in mind and keeping to the marketing principles will allow you to navigate through the ever-changing tools.

For example, in several episodes of Mad Men the recurring theme was what to do in order to increase sales.  There are the usual cases of conflict between something tried and true versus attempting something new. With the advantage of hindsight, some of these discussions and conflicts are laughable. Nevertheless, at the critical part of the episode, Don Draper brings everyone back in focus with some droll and condescending comment. Don is the bright star who saves the day. More importantly, Don spends much of his time contemplating how to deal with the changes he faces.

Today, this is exactly what happens when companies are trying to better embrace social media.  I have had conversations with executives that resist converting their documents to PDF in favor of continuing to spend large amounts of money on printed brochures. Some do not even realize that going to PDF is almost passé now that collaborative capabilities and interactive apps are coming on-line (i.e., Hyundai now has an app for the iPad as the manual for its cars).  The problem is that these executives are personally wrestling with technology rather than thinking about what their objectives are and using new talent to determine how might the new technology help them.  It is the younger generation that is well versed in the technology and is in the prime position to address the operational and information security issues that are present.  The executives should be leaving the technology wrestling to the ones that best suited for that and instead focus on how dealing with the changes will allow their company to stick to their objectives.

More details to follow in the next few blogs.