Confident, handsome, successful—everyone wants to be Don Draper. But Mad Men-style advertising won’t get you education marketing success long-term.

 

Don Draper's style of marketing won't work long term for education marketing.

Season 5 Cast Photo via wikipedia

Not only is Don Draper a fictional character, but he’s also a fictional character meant to represent a mythical, unattainable lifestyle. The overarching story of seven seasons of Mad Men preaches the moral lesson that trying to attain the Don Draper way of doing this is pure folly.

 

But that doesn’t keep us marketers from trying! Here are some examples (Hope you like the following alliteration):

Marketers Mimicking Mad Men Marketing

  • Advertising. Using mass communication channels to get your brand message in front of as many eyes as possible, even though the majority of them are not your target audience.
  • Promotion. Spending all your time on cool ways to promote the product and almost no time on the needs, desires, and questions of the target audience.
  • Publicity. Relying entirely on the passing popularity and credibility of personalities, fads, and trends instead of the core benefits of your school and timeless strategies to build your brand following.
  • Hype. Exaggerating results, benefits, and features instead of living out your brand with authenticity.

All of these flaws in the Don Draper character made him successful for 1960’s product advertising. But in today’s world where a quick look at our mobile device can show us the truth about any brand’s message, these kinds of disingenuous tactics simply do not work.

So what approach does work for education marketing?

Introducing Carnegie Style Marketing

American author and thought leader Dale Carnegie had a completely different style of selling the brands he represented. As shown in his most famous work, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he took almost the complete opposite approach to marketing and sales.

  • Friend-raising. Being more interested in your audience’s problems, desires, and preferences over your own.
  • Informing. Focusing more on solutions than sales by giving your target audience answers to their questions in evergreen and temporary content.
  • Conversation. Having a two-way conversation with your audience instead of blasting out an endless, org-centric monologue.
  • Influence. Building loyalty through consistently solving your audience’s problems rather than demanding that they listen to you.
  • Caring. Starting all your messaging and program development with the student/donor/parent/alumnus in mind instead of all of your organizational needs.

While Don Draper might be all the rage, he’s got some serious disadvantages, which I’m sure you can see in my comparison above. But I’ve still got two more BIG problems with Mad Men-style marketing that I think I should mention.

The Problem with Don

Don is Really. Really. EXPENSIVE.

TV spots. Ads in national publications. Billboards at strategic urban locations. All of these types of traditional advertising come with a hefty price tag.

Don’t take my word for it. Just try and put your video ad on national TV. More than likely, you’ll end up spending more than Don did on his lavish lifestyle.

Don answers to no one.

Traditional, mass media channels can get you in front of lots of people. But they can’t tell you exactly how many. More than that, they can’t tell you how many people signed up for a campus visit because they saw your ad.

On the other hand, inbound marketing techniques (like content marketing) offer numerous technologies that track your audience’s engagement so that you can accurately measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Carnegie Wins Out in the End

Dale Carnegie might not have worn his suit as well as Don Draper, but at the very least, he was real. And his approach to marketing and sales works! Education marketing with Dale Carnegie's principles works long term.

So beware of flashy marketing trends that overpromise and underdeliver. Stick with proven marketing practices that require hard work, humility, and a servant attitude.

Do your education marketing “Carnegie style.”

Don’t see how you can make the switch from mass media style channels that are costing your school a fortune while offering little in return? Get ahold of us for a free consultation to see how we can help you build your educational brand and hit your marketing goals.

Featured Image by Ezio Gutzemberg via Adobe Stock
Dale Carnegie Image via wikipedia