I just started watching Season 3 of the show Mad Men, which offers a glimpse into the life of an ad agency on Madison Avenue during the 1960’s. While the “Mad Men” of the show are quite interesting to watch as they smoke heavily, cheat on their wives, and drink throughout the day, I find the most compelling character to be the lead woman of the show. She’s Peggy Olson, the Secretary turned Copywriter at the Agency, and she has a knack for understanding what it means to know your audience. The agency is pitching a new product for Pepsi called Patio, a diet drink for women. Their campaign involves casting a sweet and sultry woman to sing Bye Bye Birdie while sexily sipping her diet drink…appealing to a man but that’s not their target audience. Peggy Olson questions this approach in favor of something more relatable. The “Mad Men” of the show insist that it’s the right way to go…women will buy the soda because they want to be just like the sexy woman in the commercial.
Celebrity endorsements and the idol approach are effective for large companies with big marketing budgets. However small or medium sized businesses need a more cost effective approach which leads us to the grass roots movement that social media propels. When we examine social networking, you are achieving something much more valuable than advertising. You are creating referrals, testimonials and endorsements, which gives you instant credibility and a level of trust that traditional advertising simply cannot achieve. Social Media allows you to leverage your existing customer base and create real world champions of your brand. While we may be entertained by a pretty woman singing Bye Bye Birdie while sipping her diet drink, we are more likely to purchase something based upon the positive experiences of our like-minded family and friends.