It’s the 1960s again. People are smoking inside of office buildings, and the clicking of typewriters fills the office space.

Almost every pitch at the Sterling Cooper advertising firm are done in person. The ads created by the firm are for glass bottled Coca-Cola, cigarettes, and hairspray.

Sound interesting to you? Then watch the hard-hitting show Mad Men.

Sometimes it’s best to turn to the fictional past to get answers about the present.

How Mad Men and Don Draper Should Influence Your Marketing


Don Draper is the creative director of a Manhattan advertising firm, Sterling Cooper. Don is looked upon as a creative marketing genius, and he is always figuring out creative ways to position different products to his audience.

There are plenty of marketing lessons that you can pick up from this show, which are still applicable today.

Mad Men can influence your marketing when you pay attention to the way the executives, like Draper and his cohorts, engage with their clients. They understand the wants and needs of their clients, and they meet them in-person to have conversations that are personal.

More than that, they take the time to build lasting relationships with them to encourage trust and loyalty between the company and the customers.

You may not be able to meet personally with every client you market to, but you can create a highly personalized experience that makes them feel valued.

Of course, we have way more technology than they did, but sometimes the old school approach to using your technology helps you to leverage your customer relationships to improve customer loyalty.

The main character, Don Draper, has no shortage of helpful information to share about the world of advertising and the way to success.

The 20 Best Don Draper Quotes About Advertising, Marketing, and Success

Here are some of Don’s best quotes that may help encourage you to hit your goals:

1. “You Are the Product. You Feel Something. That’s What Sells.”

Don hits home with this line. He’s saying you need to actually believe in the product or service that you are selling.

That belief evokes emotion and a feeling about your offerings. Who doesn’t get passionate when they explain something they feel strongly about? That feeling and sense of passion shines through in your campaign pitch.

Prospects can see it, they can hear it, and if you’re good, they can get that same feeling about your offerings.

2. “If You Don’t Like What’s Being Said, Change the Conversation.”

In a world that is completely different than the one that is portrayed in Mad Men, this quote is still incredibly relevant. There are plenty of places to have conversations online about virtually anything nowadays.

When you have a huge online community, negative comments and remarks are bound to slip through.

It’s important to join in on that conversation, but also to avoid a “yelling match” online about who is right or wrong. Instead, change the conversation to how you can improve and help give “Mr. Smith” a more positive experience.

See a great example of this below from Rocco’s, an Italian restaurant located in Spring Hill, FL:


3. “You’re Good. Get Better. Stop Asking For Things.”

Marketing is always changing, especially in today’s world. Even though the context of this quote was different in the show, it’s still applicable to one overall theme.

If you are currently marketing your business, you know more than anyone that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

You have to continuously be learning new things and looking into new trends to see what would be valuable to implement. The overall meaning here is simple: Don’t wait to be told what to do or taught, but rather go out there and own it.

4. “You Want Respect? Go Out and Get It For Yourself.”

This quote could be considered more accurate in today’s marketing landscape than it was back in the 60s. In today’s landscape, it’s easier than ever to start a business. More and more startups are popping up every day, all claiming to be experts in their niches.


The fact is, even stating that you’re an expert doesn’t necessarily make you one. Get out there, earn your stripes (and respect), and stand out from the competition.

5. “Make It Simple, But Significant.”

You don’t need to have the most complex product or service. Just make it simple and valuable.

Ensure that it fixes an issue your ideal customers are facing. Make it simple for them to understand what they will be getting out of it and how it operates.

6. “It’s Useless to Be a Creative Unless You Can Sell What You Create.”

This quote is pretty straightforward, yet also still very impactful. You can create the newest shiniest thing, but if you had no rhyme to your reason when creating it, it’s useless.

You need to be able to pitch your new idea and your product or service in a manner that makes people want to buy it. This concept circles back to the importance of “feeling your product.”

7. “Success Comes From Standing Out. Not Fitting In.”

This is another quote that so many business leaders still have trouble comprehending. Just because your competition is doing something, that doesn’t mean you have to jump on the wagon or follow them like sheep. Think outside the box.


Figure out a way to stand out from your competition (in a good way) and become a thought leader in your industry.

8. “Spend 50 Percent of Your Time Writing Your Headline.”

This is actually a blogging and ad best practice. Your headline, or title, needs to stand out and evoke an emotion from its intended audience to draw them in.

Make sure you spend enough time creating catchy headlines that will drive engagement with your audience.

9. “The Day You Sign a Client Is the Day You Start To Lose Them.”

Ok, I get it. This is a negative outlook on things. However, working at an agency, similar to an agency that would have been around in the 60s, I can honestly say that this quote really hits home.

You have to be on your game 100 percent of the time, and the margin for error is very thin. Produce results for your clients, or make them happy with your product to keep them around for a while and continue improving your retention rates.

10. “I Don’t Believe in Fate. You Make Your Own Opportunities.”

Preach, Don, preach. Nothing is given to you in this world just out of the clear blue sky.

It’s up to you to bust your hump, put in the time, and create opportunities to better your life and your business. Get out there and earn it!

11. “Think About It Deeply, Then Forget It, and an Idea Will Jump Up in Your Face.”

Ever been short on ideas at work while working on. a project? Most of us have. This quote helps inspire forward thinking and creativity when you come up with ideas.

You can think hard all you want, but at some point you have to let the ideas flow to you.

12. “What You Call Love Was Invented By Guys Like Me… to Sell Nylons.”


This Don Draper quote is based on the notion that a good portion of our society’s ideals have been created to sell things. For instance, some people believe Valentine’s Day was created to sell more flowers and greeting cards.

This quote shows Don’s stoic nature even in the midst of recognizing that much of the world we live in and the ideas we learn in our culture have been created to sell products.

13. “I’m Glad This Is an Environment Where You Feel Free to Fail.”

Knowing the way Don Draper is as a character, this quote wasn’t said in a positive way. Draper didn’t take kindly to failure because he was always striving to get the job done, and to get the job done right.

My spin on this quote would be to not be afraid to fail because failure is a part of the learning process. It is how you get better and discover new ideas.

Some of the best inventions were created by “happy” accidents. Make happy accidents at work and at life, and you may end up somewhere better than where you were before.

14. “I Have a Life and It Only Goes in One Direction. Forward.”

Things will happen to you. Some of these things may be good, and some of them may be bad. One thing remains true regardless of these things, and that is that life keeps on going.

Don’t keep reliving the past wondering about what could’ve been. Instead, be like Don and go forward.

15. “Change Is Neither Good nor Bad. It Simply Is.”

No matter how much you want things to stay the same at work or in your personal life, they won’t. Things change, and it doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

Go with the flow and see what happens. When your company or department implements changes, try to embrace the change so you don’t get left behind.

16. “People Want to Be Told What to Do So Badly That They’ll Listen to Anyone.”

This is a good quote to know if you work in marketing or sales. People want you to be an expert in your industry so you can tell them what to do.

They need to know that you can fix their problems. If you tell people what to do and it meets their expectations, then they are more likely to maintain loyalty to your brand.

17. “You’ll Tell Them the Next Thing Will Be Better Because It Always Is.”

You can’t make everyone happy with you, your service, or your products. But you have to try to make it better somehow.

That’s why you should tell them about the next improvement you’re making. Work and life require constant progress and growth to get better.


If you work at it, the next thing will always be better than what you leave behind.

18. “We’re Going to Sit at Our Desks and Keep Typing While the Walls Fall Down Around Us Because We’re Creative…”

It doesn’t matter what’s going on around you. You must keep creating and innovating.

The rest of this Don Draper quotes says “– the least important, most important thing there is.” People often believe that creativity doesn’t go into everything we do, which is why some will say it’s not important.

They’re wrong. Creativity makes companies flourish, and you should always use your creativity to the best of your ability no matter what. This is especially true in marketing, advertising, and sales.

19. “Advertising Is Based on One Thing: Happiness…”

“…And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is ok. You are ok.”

Everyone wants to be happy. Kids want to be happy, adults want to be happy, and old people want to be happy.

Marketing and advertising are centered around presenting products and services in a way that demonstrates their value in customers’ lives. When your prospects see how your offerings can make them happy, they will buy from you.

20. “You Can’t Tell People What They Want. It Has to Be What You Want.”

People need someone to tell them what to do, like Don Draper said in quote #16. There is a catch, and that is the fact that they don’t want to be told what they want.

You have to tell them what you want, and then they may be more willing to meet you where you are. If you are selling something to someone, make your wants their wants. If they don’t know what they want, then you can help influence them to want what you have.

We highly recommend you watch the riveting TV series Mad Men for more quotes from Don Draper, as well as from the other go-getter characters. There’s always something to gain from shows about sales, advertising, or marketing.

Watch this one, and start applying what you learn in your personal and professional life.