Advertising Lessons from Don Draper

Who is Don Draper? He is the art director for Sterling Cooper. He lives his life full of mystery and charm we cannot get enough of. That man could say just about anything and it be worth gold. Instead of gawking at his handsome style, I decided to look beyond the suite and womanizing to take some advertising lessons from the man himself.

Don Draper
  • Be Direct. When have we seen Don bite his tongue? He does not beat around the bush, he is direct.
  • Observe body language. In business meetings, Don might have a few talking points, but it is his observations that fuel his ability to think on a fly. It’s helpful to observe the body language of others to know how you should be. He adapts his “pitch” to fit the mood in the room.
  • Never lose inspiration. There are times when Don is in bed with an industry-related book. In his suite pockets, you will find napkins with copy written all over them. He is always taking in what is around him and uses it as a source of inspiration.
  • Step up and be Daring. As the creative director of Sterling Cooper, you have to be daring. Clients know his work and reputation before they have met. It’s a tough world out there and sometimes you have to feel what will get your work noticed and approved by a client.
  • Respect good work when you see it. I admire Don’s relationship with Peggy Olsen. He asked for her opinion when she was his secretary and promoted her to copy editor. She is on his team for a reason. His relationship with Pete Campbell helps Draper see the bigger picture. He acknowledges hard work when he sees it and calls everything out that isn’t.
  • Assemble a team. Don surrounds himself by others who push him as he pushes back.
  • Practice your craft. In most client meetings, Draper woos the clients with his charisma and charm. How does he stay sharp? He practices his craft by trusting his instincts and is confident in his work. When he first met Roger Sterling, he made it his goal to charm him for a job. Did Sterling hire him or did Draper hire himself? His words got him the job he wanted.
  • Take Extended period of rest. There has been many times we see Draper taking a nap in his office. Did he really need a nap or was he trying to start his creative process? Probably a little of both. He has made time to swim by a gym to relax his mind when he was away from the office. All work and no rest can drive anyone crazy.
  • Choose to be Resilient. When Draper’s work was questioned, he did not clam up or break down. He knew when to defend his teams work and when to listen to the client’s opinion. The ability to be resilient in situations like this kept him in good relations with important clients and coworkers.
Tune in to AMC on Sunday nights at 10/9c for more than just lessons.
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