Why Don Draper Would Fail in Business Today

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: by Kevin Allen author of "The Hidden Agenda: A Proven Way to Win Business and Create a Following."

During my days on Madison Avenue, winning new business relied heavily persuasion – an idea perpetuated by popular culture, particularly the wildly popular TV series “Mad Men.”

But in today’s environment, whether you’re trying to convince someone to hand over their hard-earned money, adopt your ideas, or follow your advice, Don Draper’sarm-twisting approach simply won’t fly. Rather, success relies on something far more compelling: your hidden agenda.

Don Draper Madmen
Source: AMC.com
Don Draper Madmen

The hidden agenda is the unspoken, visceral, emotional motivation that drives decisions and moves people to action.

Tapping into the hidden agenda of your potential new business is crucial for winning the account, but first, you must understand your own hidden agenda – the wants, needs, and values that effect how you approach both business and life. This requires an appreciation for: your Real Ambition, Credo, and Core – three central elements to your hidden agenda.

Identifying your Real Ambition

Real Ambition is the deep desire to create something special that doesn’t yet exist. It is bigger than mere ambition, because it’s noble. When the person you are trying to reach is touched by your Real Ambition, they will gladly hand over their money, or follow you anywhere.

In my early days as part of Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral quest, he used his Real Ambition to mobilize the city of New York to restore a shining city on a hill, where people would be safe to live the life of their ambitions.

The Hidden Agenda
Source: Amazon.com
The Hidden Agenda

Taking a moment to identify your Real Ambition, and then making it known, is central to winning new business. Remember, people don’t follow you because their arm is twisted; they follow because they are inspired by you.

You inspire people by the Real Ambition you set forth to achieve.

Communicating your Credo

Since the early days of indigenous tribes, simple but deeply held values kept people together and defined communities. They still do. Communities find one another across the digital landscape, because of the common values and beliefs they share. Your Credo is the set of beliefs you hold close. It is your compass and the architecture of your emotional DNA.

While at ad agency McCann Erickson, we connected profoundly with Marriott International during a pitch, because of our own deep-seated belief that service is not servitude, but an act of simple human generosity. They saw it in an instant, and we won the account.

Communicating your Credo – your intrinsic values – in every aspect of how you conduct business and connect with others will draw in a community of people who hold the same beliefs – new business included.

You draw people in, because of the beliefs inherent to your Credo.


Tuning into your Core

Your Core is the set of skills, abilities and strengths that are uniquely yours. Other people undoubtedly have similar traits, but your Core is traceable only to you. Not only does it help your audience distinguish you from others, it illustrates the ways in which you can help them.

When we pitched the MasterCard account with the now famous Priceless campaign, the client decision makers saw in us a fiercely competitive spirit and the ability to win in the market against their chief rival, Visa . We won the account, and MasterCard’s Priceless campaign blew Visa out of the water.

As you work to secure new business for your organization, tune into your Core to illustrate how you can help the client in a way no one else can.

You mobilize people, because their vital needs are satisfied by your Core.

Despite what you may see on TV, we don’t really persuade anybody to do anything. Businesses hire you and people follow you not because they’ve had their arm twisted, but because they see that you understand them.

In that same vein, your ‘pitch’ for new business is only credible when it reflects the essential truth of your compelling assets – your hidden agenda.

Kevin Allen, author of The Hidden Agenda: A Proven Way to Win Business and Create a Following, is founder and CEO of Kevin Allen Partners. He is recognized as one of the advertising industries most accomplished growth professionals. Learn more at www.thehiddenagendabook.com.

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks