Digital Advice. From Don Draper


What follows is mostly my fault. I try to make it a rule not to frequent the business sections of bookstores. I try to avoid any book that could make a nice one-off piece in the New Yorker, that began as a piece in the New Yorker, or is written by somebody who is in a field of work that is connected to mine.

I recently spent $25 on Nick Belton’s I Live In The Future And Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work, And Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted. It’s the usual accessible, undemanding, breezily written stuff that one might expect.

The first 265 pages detail how our lives - and business with it - have and continue to be transformed by technology.

The last sentence of the last page - page 266 - urges us to “reorganize, rethink, and get back to the business of storytelling.”

I spend $25 and plough through 266 pages to be told storytelling is the key?!

I also spent $26.95 on Aaron Goldman’s Everything I Know About Marketing I Learnt From Google. It’s the usual accessible, undemanding, chattily-written stuff that one might expect.

327 pages detail how our lives - and business with it - have and continue to be transformed by Google and the principles and practices it represents.

The book concludes with twenty ‘Get Googley’ principles. Amongst these are:

Relevancy rules

Tap the wisdom of crowds

Keep it simple, stupid

Be where your audience is

Don’t interrupt

Act like content

Your unique selling proposition is critical

Your competition is broader than you think

Sex sells

$26.95 for some Marketing 101?!

How can you tell me Everything has Changed when the sage advice doled out at the end is advice that Bill Bernbach and his fictional Mad Men counterparts would have recognized and, I’d wager, would have expressed with greater brevity and eloquence?

Are we really inventing marketing for the very first time?

I’m being ever so slightly unkind. What both books do well is detail how the context for our efforts has changed and continues to change dramatically. I agree with both Bilton and Goldman that if we are blind to what’s changing then we will surely fail. Both make the case that the tools and methods we employ must change.

But their respective conclusions - and the fact that they are so timeless in their advice - belie the fact that while the context has changed, the fundamentals have not.

I’ve quoted Mr. Bullmore on this before: “The agency of the future will have a fine, clear and cultured understanding of some primitive and timeless facts of life. They will understand the nature of choice, the nature of persuasion, and how people construct brands in their own heads. Nothing that's happened in the past 50 years has affected these timeless and generic truths. All the rest is tactics.”

What captures the imaginations, attention, and wallets of human beings has hardly changed. The way we do that is evolving rapidly.

I’m not sure if that’s a learning that was entirely worth the $51.95. But it’s always good to get a little reminder.