The ‘Mad Men’ Marketing Era is Long Over

The ‘Mad Men’ Marketing Era is Long Over

(Originally posted in

The impending Mad Men series finale is causing a stir in the social sphere: Viewers are reluctant to say goodbye to the characters, who represent the quintessential ’60s experience. One reason may be the intimate look the series has depicted of the advertising industry during that decade. Another may be its insightful glimpse into a time of hard-and-set demographic lines — which in turn provides a significant lesson for modern business owners.

In short: We’re no longer in the Mad Men era, and our marketing shouldn’t be, either.

We’re no longer in the Mad Men era, and our marketing shouldn’t be, either.

Today, lines between gender, culture and age are fuzzy. Same-sex couples are having babies. Americans have a black president. Knowledge workers have replaced industrial workers, and we’re living longer. So we’re able to make more and spend more.

Given these blurred lines, narrowing your startup’s target market into specific demographics is no longer an effective branding strategy. Instead, emphasizing “psychographics,” which reveals people’s behavior and mindset, rather than demographics, will result in higher consumer engagement and more brand visibility.

Why psychographics trumps demographics

When psychographics — the study of people’s values, opinions and attitudes — first found its way into scholarly journals in the ’60s, the challenge it posed was considered too challenging. To obtain the interests, attitudes and opinions of a market meant commissioning time-consuming, expensive and bias-ridden surveys.

When compared to demographics — which comprises age, gender, ethnicity, income and location — the practice of collecting psychographic information was pushed aside, and no wonder.

With demographics, stereotypes predominated: A person was either a man or a woman. People were black, white, Hispanic or Asian. Those over 65 were retired with grown kids and seeking a condo in Florida. There was no accounting for the types of people those individuals actually were.

Sure, stereotypes still exist in the modern era, but they shouldn’t inform marketing strategies. And relying on demographics is getting riskier for brands. Content for Millennial stereotypes, for example, may come across as boring or clumsily deceptive. And brands for Hispanics are failing because merely translating the same irrelevant content into Spanish doesn’t cut it.

Values-based marketing, on the other hand, allows you to address 100 percent of your market. So even as consumer mindsets and values constantly change, you can tweak your messaging accordingly. But first, you have to determine which values make sense for your company and its offering.

Putting psychographics into play

To determine which values best fit your company’s offerings, start with your brand’s value proposition. What makes it stand out from others in consumers’ minds? It’s important that your marketing show your brand’s true colors. Knowing yourself and your team will ensure that you don’t send mixed messages to your audience.

One brand that has done this well is Red Bull. According to a case study, Red Bull represents adventure, wit, confidence, spontaneity and irony. The energy drink company lives out these values by mounting global events, such as the Red Bull Air Race, which showcase bold, risk-taking athletes.

Other great examples include Coca-Cola, which presents itself as committed to customer happiness; and United Airlines, which has improved its service to satisfy customers’ desire for relaxation and rewards.

The message here is that if you’re working with an established brand, do psychographic testing on leading and lagging markets. For example, BMW is favored over Mercedes in the United Kingdom because consumers there display the inner-directed values which align with BMW’s branding. Use this research to identify and prioritize markets.

Finally, consider the opportunity to create lifestyle content that appeals to your target market’s mindset. Lifestyle content may feature men or women of any age and any ethnicity. It doesn’t even have to include people; perhaps it’s just an inspirational slogan, such as “Just do it.” Interestingly, 60 percent of Nike’s Facebook posts featured lifestyle content in 2014, and its call-to-action posts were shared about 993 times each.

The Adidas brand, on the other hand, shared lifestyle content only 32 percent of the time and garnered only about 122 shares for each of its call-to-action posts.

The Mad Men era may be over, then, but the era of values-based marketing has arrived — and it poses unique and infinite opportunities for creative marketing approaches. If you do some brand soul-searching, stay true to your core values and curate content that appeals to your target’s mindset, you’ll enjoy Don Draper-worthy consumer engagement without even a hint of the now-dated ’60s.


Weather the Storm with Hidden Markets

Weather the Storm with Hidden Markets

(Originally published in

Recently, I went car shopping with my wife. We were casually browsing when a salesperson approached us. After listening to his pitch, he turned to me and — in front of my wife — said, “Most of the ladies won’t care about looking under the hood, so I won’t bother giving her the marketing spiel on the performance.”

His comment surprised me. Yet this kind of stereotyping happens all the time in marketing. Just look at the gender bias in advertisements: Whether it’s a reference to sports, clothes or professions, companies try to typecast men and women in ads. But doing this can be detrimental to marketing efforts.

In fact, stereotypes can inadvertently prompt a company to ignore important customer segments — consumers who could be top buyers.

But when marketers explore other audiences, they may find an upside in places not expected. Look at Coca-Cola’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial. It depicted a wide range of people, from same-sex parents to hijab-wearing women, as red-blooded Americans. As a result, Coca-Cola may have connected with several new markets.

Weather the Storm with Hidden Markets


Stop stereotyping your customers: Instead, tap these ignored markets to reach people who may have wanted your product all along.

When you open things up to more genders, ages and cultures, you can find hungry new customers. Here are just a couple examples of underserved audiences:

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is traditionally overlooked and incorrectly marketed to. Tiffany & Co., however, recently targeted the LGBT community with its first ad featuring same-sex couples. In an effort to combat pigeonholed gender marketing, the conservative jewelry company celebrated its same-sex customers.

Leaving out the powerful sector of elderly Americans could be a costly mistake. The age group of Americans older than 65 had 47 times the net worth of households led by individuals 35 and younger, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2009 Census data. Elderly Americans are living longer, becoming more literate online and staying active.

Discovering and incorporating hidden audiences requires better data but it’s entirely possible, thanks to the amount of social-media information available. In fact, many startups have successfully interpreted data, such as public Twitter feeds and Facebook pages and turned it into actionable insights. Tools such as BrandwatchSysomos Heartbeat and Radian6 can help inform a company’s content strategies.

While social-media insights are key, you still must consider your company’s mindset.

To understand and appeal to underserved audiences, adjust your company’s perspective from the inside out. That means your own team must be as diverse as the people you seek to reach.

Diversity influences a company’s success: A 2012 McKinsey study found that companies ranking in the top 25 percent for diversity in their executive boards experienced on average 53 percent higher returns on equity.

Not sure how to incorporate a variety of viewpoints within your walls? An all-inclusive approach to hiring and promoting will introduce new perspectives, reinforcing your company’s desire to reach out to a diverse audience.

Many startups get in a rut of hiring young people in order to exude a youthful image. In my opinion, your company is more likely to be innovative and effective with both industry vets and fresh-faced graduates alike. Age biases on the marketing side can be eliminated by hiring employees of various ages.

And large companies have also experienced challenges in attaining diversity. The New York Times pointed out in 2013 that only 16 percent of Fortune 500 executives were women and only 4 percent of S&P 500 executives were female.

The stereotype about women not caring about what’s under the hood is less likely to be perpetuated in a company that considers women and men equally valuable contributors.

It’s time to ditch the lazy stereotypes — both inside and outside your company. Determine the kinds of people who will buy your product or service. Sift through the social-media data to determine where these people are and how to get your products into their previously ignored hands. You’ll engage new audiences and build a better business in the long run.

World Cup Advertising Wars: How To Compete with the Big Guys

World Cup Advertising Wars: How To Compete with the Big Guys

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The World Cup hype has officially started!  And if you’re in Marketing/ Advertising, you’re probably keeping a close eye on the various campaigns that have been introduced to pay homage to one of the world’s most watched sporting events.

FIFA World Cup 2014

Some of the first to release their campaigns were the big soda brands.  World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola and competitor Pepsi have both recently launched TV spots, and there’s already lots of chatter on who got it right.  That answer might seem subjective to most.  But as Marketers know, putting together a campaign that speaks to the right audience takes more than luck.  It takes planning and strategy.  It takes understanding of various brand segments and how to reach them on a personal level.  And it takes knowing that powerful stories about the people behind a brand reside in unfiltered data.

That being said, it can be assumed that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi did lots of research for their campaigns, utilizing large budgets and plenty of time to plan (Coca-Cola apparently began planning back in 2012, and World Cup 2014 stands as their largest campaign ever!).

But for those agencies that might not have the dollars or time to spend on such intensive research- there are simple ways to accomplish a similar goal of understanding audiences by looking at some easily accessible data.  We’ll show you how.  And we’ll also come to our own conclusion, based on our own data, on which soda brand might have the slight advantage in the World Cup campaign wars.

Social- The Secret Sauce

Social has become a very viable option when it comes to gathering insights about your audience.  It’s as easy as picking a social segmentation tool and diving in to all of the data.

We’ve started our own segmentation analysis with a historical snapshot of the FIFA audience, or the last 500 people who have engaged with @FIFAWorldCup on Twitter.   That breakdown shows the highest engagement came from ‘Wholesome Males’, as seen below:

Top Personas for the last 500 people to engage with @FIFAWorldCup on Twitter.

‘Wholesome Males’ are top engagers on Twitter for the @FIFAWorldCup audience.

‘Wholesome’ indicates personality traits like down-to-earth, honest, family oriented, sincere, real and sentimental.  A ‘Wholesome’ person might respond best to campaigns based on truth, openness and emotion (more about ‘Personality Identification’ through social can be found here– very interesting stuff!).

Hot on the trails of those ‘Wholesome’ males are ‘Rugged’ males, with their own set of unique traits that gets them excited.  It’s advantageous for Marketers to look into both groups to see what makes each of them tick.

Hash Out the Hashtags

Now take the analysis a step further, and look at the ‘real-time’ breakdown of the FIFA audience.  In addition to those folks who are currently engaging with the @FIFAWorldCup Twitter handle, you might also be interested in the people who are using the top three most popular Twitter hashtags for the World Cup in general (which are #WorldCup, #Brazil, and #WorldCup2014).  The new analysis looks like this:

FIFA Active 4-15 Screenshot

A ‘real-time’ breakdown of the soccer audience also shows ‘Wholesome’ engagement.

Not surprisingly, the @FIFAWorldCup audience and those using the most popular World Cup hashtags look very similar.  Looking ahead, a Marketer can be confident that the ‘Wholesome’ and ‘Rugged’ males should be the right audience to go after for a campaign.

Your Own Hashtags- Who’s Engaging?

Last, if you’ve created and launched campaign hashtags, it might be beneficial to analyze the people who are chiming in with those hashtags on social, as long as there’s some good traction.  Today, both Coke and Pepsi have launched hashtags for their World Cup campaigns (#WorldsCup and #LiveForNow, respectively).  Traction was highest during the release of the campaigns, and has now subsided.

However, as engagement with these hashtags increases again, which should be a top goal for both brands, Marketers can analyze what types of people the online campaigns are attracting and figure out ways to target those audiences better.  We’ve started a new analysis on Coke’s hashtag engagement moving forward, and will report back in an upcoming blog.

Coke's FIFA World Cup hashtag campaign analysis

So what does all of this tell you about launching your own World Cup (or any other) campaign? The point is that social data matters, and so do the people behind that data.  If you can dig into that data enough to understand your audience on a very deep and personal level, then you’ve automatically pushed ahead of your competition when it comes to planning the tone and messages within your various campaigns.

Who Wins the Soda War?

The Coca-Cola campaign plays to inclusiveness, youth, uniqueness, togetherness, grandiosity and social good (think ‘Wholesome’).  The Pepsi campaign plays towards celebrity, playfulness, music, creativity, art and fun (think ‘Sophisticated’ or ‘Daring’).  According to our analysis of the FIFA audience, our vote goes to Coke.  But hats off to both campaigns!

Next week we’ll take a look at changes to the @FIFAWorldCup Personas as engagement increases, which might cause Marketers to tweak their real-time campaigns.  And we’ll compare two new ‘Big Brand’ campaigns that have staked their claim on the World Cup turf.

Want to start your own segmentation and hashtag analysis? Click here.