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don draperIt’s a tough time for marketing executives. Bottom lines are being eviscerated, marketers are being forced to “do more with less,” and digital channels are changing the way the game is played. In the face of this latter development a gang of truth-talkers and charlatans have emerged to tell us how to operate in the new universe.

One of the things that I have always found strange about the new media conversation is that there are a myriad of different points of view about how hard a sell can be in these channels. Obviously,¬†as this report suggests, we do not like being “sold” but – and here’s a GIANT revelation worthy of a Nobel prize – we like to buy stuff. Huh? Yeah, really, we do.

While it goes without saying that most of the time we hate being told to consume, I believe this is more pronounced in most social networks. I know if I examined my small Facebook circle almost none of my “friends” share the “awesome content” that marketers have thrown at them from fan pages.

Wiser men than I often point out the sheer size of Facebook and how its “pervasiveness” continues to grow. It is now an army of some 350 million folks and, simply put, it is to the point that grandma and her entire knitting circle are on there coordinating Friday’s Parcheesy tournament. This to say that any marketer who does not, at a minimum, listen to conversations in this space is probably smoking something good that you may want to buy in a large quantity and squirrel away for the nuclear winter.

So marketers are told they need to listen and maybe converse. The problem is that so many marketers and the current generation of top corporate execs grew up in a time when the Don Draper-style hard sell was very much en vogue. I think “push” style marketing is in most of our professional DNA. Maybe not all of us but it is the knee-jerk for most people. When the experts and charlatans pronounce from atop Mt. Olympus, “you can’t sell overtly in these channels,” many corporate warriors have a reaction akin to “What you talkin’ bout Willis” – I can’t say this is surprising or that I blame them.

This stuff is so new for so many of us. And like any incipient game the rules of engagement change rapidly in the first 5-10 years.  Eventually, as my good friend Danny Starr says, the dust will settle Рjust as it is now beginning to on email marketing.

So what would Don Draper, master of the hard sell, say about Facebook marketing? I think he’d say “What a great way to meet women!” and then reach for a nice, strong 4pm martini. Not a bad idea considering that the All Knowing Compendium of Best Practices For Facebook Marketing is still a long way from being written and Draper does some of his best work with a drink at the ready.

There is still a lot to be learned about how to best use Facebook and some of these other tools.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Lindsay D. says:

    Well put!

  • Danny says:


    Here is a recent eMarketing article that points to the fact that people are starting to tire of email marketing:

    It says “How many e-mails is too many? In September 2009, 23% of US Internet users who had unsubscribed from e-mail newsletters told the CMO Council they had done so because of receiving too many to manage; another 16% said they caused clutter in their inbox. Further, 22% said they had decided to stop purchasing from a company because of too many or irrelevant e-mails, and another 41% would consider doing the same. “

  • Jackson Wightman says:

    Hey Dan,

    Thanks a bunch. VERY interesting stuff. I know you were there at ringside when people were drinking the Kool Aid on email marketing (as is now happening with social). Thanks for sending!


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