What Mad Men Teaches About Account-Based Marketing

By Sangram Vajre

Although the hit television series Mad Men began in the 1950s, long before anyone had ever heard of a sales and marketing funnel, the agency shown in this show actually was doing business-to-business (B2B) account-based marketing:

  • Identify target accounts. They targeted companies in such industries as automotive, cosmetics, fashion, travel, and commercial goods, because they had success with those types of companies before. The account executives found the ultimate decision makers.
  • Expand the account with contacts. They determined who else from the account needed to come in for a pitch about creative. For example, when the agency was pitching a big tobacco company, they would need to know all of the executive stakeholders.
  • Engage accounts on their terms. Invite them to the office for a swanky boardroom meeting or to dinner to sip martinis. Find out their hopes and dreams for their product or service, then design creative to help tell the story. The big pitch with storyboards showing messaging that spoke to them and tugged at their heart strings would help win the deal.
  • Create customer advocates. They accounts then tell all their friends about the amazing work the agency did to help increase sales at their business. This word of mouth marketing gave the agency its excellent reputation.

Because Mad Men covered the Fifties to the Seventies, the agency didn’t have access to the technology you have today. Contacts were kept in a Rolodex on a pretty mahogany desk. When an account man left an agency, all he had was his Rolodex and his reputation.

Today, your reputation follows you on social media, but the way you manage accounts is much more sophisticated. Imagine what Don Draper, the creative director of Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Price, would think about all these B2B marketing automation software and sales prospecting tools.