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Marketing Lessons Professional Services Firms Can Learn From Mad Men – “A Little Kiss” Parts I and II

This past Sunday, Mad Men returned for its long overdue fifth season. While the two-hour debut lacked Don Draper working his magic in pitching clients, it did not disappoint in drilling into the marketing lessons relevant no matter the era.

Peggy Olsen (played by Elizabeth Moss) presented a cutting-edge (for the time) ad proposal to executives from the H.J. Hines Company. The idea was to use high-speed photography to show beans dancing. Here’s Peggy, taken from a scene replayed in a recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air:

And so we take a bandage of this new micro photography and high-speed camera to show a bean ballet. Spinning in air with their delicious perfection. The beans pirouette in slow motion. They somersault in slow motion. Some of them spin clockwise, some counter-clockwise so they’ll appear to be moving towards each other, until they drop into a full can, first seen from the top. There’s a splash of mouthwatering sauce as each one lands. Then we cut to the front. The iconic label…

And the client’s reaction, one that invokes the tone many professional service marketers receive when they pitch new and different:

You ever seen beans up close? They’re slimy. They look like a bunch of bloody organs. And it’s not just for fellas like me that saw things in Korea. Kidney beans are called kidney beans because they’re shaped that way. But you could call all beans that. They look better in a group, in a bowl. Hell, what’s wrong with a spoon?

Replace high-speed photography and a spoon with print and electronic and you could have had a similar conversation regarding the transition from printed firm brochures to websites. This was a paradigm shift much like Peggy was proposing to the Hines executive.

At times, we can become very limiting in how we present our core information – beans or expertise. It may feel right to have that spoon in there with the beans, or to have a firm brochure to hand clients, but are you making a statement? Are you effectively differentiating your product in the marketplace? With all due respect to tradition, today’s professional service companies need to consider the “high-speed photography” of today – social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs). After all, a good product needs great presentation.

–          Michael Bond

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