10 Tips for Modern Day Mad Men

I have to admit it. I am a HUGE Mad Men fan and have been anxiously awaiting and am excited for this season’s premiere on Sunday night on AMC (it is finally here!!!).  Recently I had the privilege to speak on the Paid Search Buyers panel at SMX West 2012 in San Jose.  The description for the session said that attendees could ask questions and get answers from Modern Day Mad Men.  Proudly I showed that description to my husband (a municipal finance guy); he chuckled and thought it was “Cute.” CUTE?!?  I was indignant and tried to persuade him that the search engine advertising that I manage is cutting edge, track-able, profitable, efficient, and incredibly important and valuable to my clients. It is. It really is. He’s one of those guys who don’t click on PPC ads unless the organic listings stink or he’s really desperate. It’s all good though. It keeps me humble and striving for increased excellence, relevancy and integrity for our beloved online marketing industry.

So as I celebrate my 6th year in paid search advertising and Point It as an agency looks to celebrate its 10th Year Anniversary in April, I’ve become reflective of what I do and the “secret” to my success.

Here are my top 10 tips for the Modern Day Mad Man/Woman:

1.   Tap into Your Don Draper Creativity.

I was recently asked “What percent of what you do is art, and what percent is science?”  In PPC, I would say 75% of what I do is science and 25% is art. I do a lot of testing, data analysis, and reporting of KPIs. I like to consider myself somewhat of an internet environmental scientist.  IMHO, if I did SEO, I think that response would be flipped-flopped. (Please comment below if you disagree.)  I’ve also been asked if I’m more analytical or more creative in nature.  To that I’ve responded “Well…I’m multi-faceted, multi-dimensional.  I’m pretty evenly balanced, right and left brained.” But I do think the hardest part in my current role is to take a step back from all the data we have access to, and to think creatively and strategically.  It’s also a lot of fun to do this but you need to carve out time, otherwise you’ll be looking at spreadsheets and UIs all day.

I personally have a lot of creative outlets outside of my job (gardening, fashion, cooking, yoga, hiking, my tweens, etc.) I often find that after doing some of these activities I can approach a work project with some new ideas and perspective.   I use my human experience to really think about what motivates a user to a desired action.  And sometimes it doesn’t hit me until 2AM in the middle of the night. (I have a notebook by my bed, I write those ideas down. They are often the best.)


2.  It’s (Still) Not about Eyeballs or Clicks. It’s about People.

PPC is not about tricking someone to click on your ad or shouting your message to unsuspecting users until they succumb or stalking them with an image ad as they browse around the web. It’s about matching users’ wants with your company’s benefits if they fit. Do not lose sight of why you are doing whatever task you are working on. Keep asking yourself, what is the ultimate goal of this task/strategy for your client/company? It’s probably about establishing relationships with people, whether those are transactions, contact information, engagement, affinities, etc.  Wear your user hat occasionally to remind yourself of that. I really do have a funny user hat at home and put it on when I need to wake myself up from data fatigue. It reminds me that I’m trying to reach people, who may be a little wacky sometimes just like me.


3.  It’s a DIY Office World.

Unlike advertising agency execs of the 60s, you don’t get a Secretary. Haha! Far from it. Even the thought of that actually makes me smile.  If you are lucky, you will have a great Office/Operations Manager such as a Joan character that runs everything like a tight ship. But be ready to roll up your sleeves and fix the printer, make the next pot of coffee, take the recyclables out, schedule your own travel, and perform basic IT tasks for yourself.  I don’t know anyone who has an admin assistant in this industry.  You do it yourself, or it doesn’t get done. Period.


4.  Be Open to New Tools/Approaches and Automate as much as possible.

Different tools have different benefits, different pro’s and con’s.  You can learn new approaches from others who work on different types of accounts that may have different experiences and techniques that you do.  Be open-minded.  Just because you do it the way you’ve done it for years, doesn’t make it right. Be open to trying different tools, especially bid management and automate reporting, which can increase your efficiency and give you time to do #1 (think creatively).


5.  Assign Tasks and Manage Your To-Do’s for the Day, Week, Month, Quarter

There is always so much to do in our business. There’s always some new product or promotion, something new fancy tool to test, some test to analyze and apply learnings, some new optimization technique to try, or some new product feature by the publishers.  With those exciting new things to do, and the regular account maintenance that must be done if your campaign is to continue to perform like a well-conditioned machine, it can get a little overwhelming sometimes.  Let’s be honest, sometimes a lot overwhelming.  It’s important to develop a “tickler” system that works for you.  I make sure my time-sensitive commitments (start dates, end dates, reports, meetings, stated project deadlines) are clear, on my calendar, and included in reporting.  I assign tasks with deadlines to my team and myself.  I use multiple project management methods to try to keep everyone on my team on the boat and the boat moving in the right direction. Nothing goes overboard or is left behind.

6.  Just implement it.

At the end of the day, it’s really all about performance.  Sometimes you just have to stop talking about something and just do it. It’s great to be on top of all the latest developments (there’s so many). But doing it (implementing it) takes time; it takes thought, and you need to limit distractions and focus. Yes, sometimes you need to logout of Twitter.


7.  Help others succeed.

One of the most satisfying accomplishments I’ve found in my career is when my client or someone on my team succeeds in their goals.  They are smart and very nice people who I want to succeed. I’m somewhat of a nurturer. I like to take care of people. I try to enable them and do everything in my power make them look and feel great.  For me, their success is the best kind of thanks that I can get, and it doesn’t always have to be stated.


8. Learn from others. Share with others.

Remember Porter’s Five Forces of business analysis?  Like it or not, we are in an industry where the Power of Suppliers (one in particular) is incredibly high. As an individual customer, as much as we hate to admit it, we are simply not that important to them.  Therefore, customers who may even be competitors often find themselves sharing information because the supplier is so powerful. The openness that people in this industry share information is pretty astounding.  I’ve never seen anything like it. The blogs, the conference coverage, Twitter tags, LinkedIn group are all terrific and you can learn so much from others sharing their experience.  But do your part and share your learnings too. Join the conversation. It also is a lot of fun connecting with people around the globe who share similar joys and woes.


9.  Alcohol Policy

Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, we don’t have stocked bars in our offices with couches or bottles of scotch stashed in drawers in our desks. After a frustrating meeting, we might take a walk for some fresh air and go for a coffee with a colleague.  But that’s not to say we don’t have a little fun together, at Point It we have a weekly Wine Club and quarterly off-site events because we actually like each other and it promotes camaraderie and teamwork.


10.  Dress code has come a long way, baby.

Button-downs/Ties and Pearls/Heels are optional. (Thank goodness!) We’re all pretty casual in this business, business casual. Well, okay, sometimes even more casual than business casual.  Working from home, I often am in my pajamas until 11am or at night doing analysis, or I’m in workout clothes after a cardio class.   Shhh! No webcams are on, and no one has to know.  🙂 Does it matter?  NO!

If you do all these things, you’ll go far in this wonderful world of Modern Mad Men.  “Trust me.  I’m in advertising. “- DD and LS


Just for fun here are some of my favorite Don Draper quotes (I don’t necessarily agree with all of these, I just like them):

 “(Creative Process) Just think about it deeply, then forget it…then an idea will jump up in your face.” –DD Season 1

 “Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.”  -DD Season 2

 “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” –DD Season 3

 “I’m saying, I had a report just like that, and it’s not like there’s some magic machine that makes identical copies of things.”

 “Let’s also say that change is neither good nor bad. It simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy. A tantrum that says, ‘I want it the way it was’ or a dance that says, ‘Look, it’s something new...” – DD Season 3

 “You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself.”  – DD Season 4

 DD: “It’s your job. I give you money. You give me ideas.” Peggy: “But you never thank me.” DD: “That’s what the money is for.” Season 4

 While Pete moans about the loss of an account:  “The day you win a new client is the day you start losing them.” – DD

 “You are the product. You are feeling something. That’s what sells.” – DD Season 2

 “(Love) Big lightning bolt to the heart—you can’t eat, and you can’t work and you run off and get married and make babies. The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. It was invented by men like me, to sell nylons.” – DD Season 1

 Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.” – DD Season 1

 Pot smoking hipster to Don regarding Don’s occupation of “selling lies” to the people: “How do you sleep at night?” DD: “On a bed made of money.” – DD Season 1

Enjoy the season premiere. I know I will.

Lisa Sanner About the author
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