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The Best Advice of the Year from Don Draper

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2 min read

Don Draper seems to be a SimplyCast favorite. Here is more online marketing advice from the marketing and advertising legend.

1. Be Simple

Don Draper asks what a product is, never what it isn't. Whatever it is that you're pushing in your email, fax or SMS marketing campaigns – a product, service, promotion or a call-to-action – is just what it is.

He always starts his creative process at the very beginning – defining what the product is, functions and benefits – even before he picks up a pen or calls in his team of writers.

2. "Fear stimulates my imagination."

For some highly creative people (including marketers!), negative emotions actually trigger extreme moments of clarity. It could be stress from a looming deadline, negative feedback on a recent promotion or the intense fear that you may just have run out of great ideas…forever.

Whatever negative emotion it is, Don Draper is right. Sometimes genius comes out of pure, unadulterated terror.

3. Elicit Emotion

Who can forget the first season finale of Mad Men? Don's personal life is falling apart, and yet he has to figure out a way to sell Kodak's "Carousel" projector.

He doesn't tell Kodak – or his staff – how to feel but shows them through an incredibly powerful slide presentation. When all else fails, draw upon how your product makes people feel. Love or hate it, emotions are an often forgotten tool in a writer's arsenal.

But, here's the beauty of Don Draper's process: he keeps the copy simple.

4. "Advertising is based on one thing: happiness." Enough said.5. Take a Break

Grab a long lunch (martinis or sidecars are optional). Wander around your office and talk to colleagues.

Haven't you noticed that Don doesn't really do a lot of work? You see him at lunch, with his mistresses, lounging on his sofa and then, seemingly out of a stupor, he comes up with some out-of-this-world copy? When you're frustrated, unable to even write a single sentence and you're about to throw your computer out the window, get up from your desk and walk away.

No one can force creativity, especially if you're so deep in it you can't see a way out. Taking a break from what you're doing will give your brain a chance to regroup and focus.

6. Grab a Pen

Seriously, stop using your computer, grab a sheet of 100% recycled paper and a trusty pen (remember those?).

Sure, Don didn't have computers, but if you watch carefully, he switches up his usual legal pad for a cocktail napkin, magazine margin, newspaper and lunch receipts.

By changing the way you're writing – typing to handwriting – challenges your brain. Challenging your brain to reorganize its cognitive functions (like remembering how to hold a pen), reorganizes all other thought processes.

And, there's nothing better for organic, natural brainstorming than a blank sheet of paper.

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