Josh Weltman spent the last decade living every ad man's dream: as an adviser to Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and his brilliant stable of writers.
Weltman, an ad industry vet who met Weiner pre-Mad Men when the two were each taking their children to school, came on board to offer some ad industry realism.
In the process, Weltman, a co-producer, advised the Mad Men staff about the nature of creativity, being customer-centric, and the importance of urgency when trying to bump sales of your product.
If you're looking for ways to story-tell about your product's benefits or product differentiation, you can absorb a lot from Weltman's recently published book, Seducing Strangers: How to Get People to Buy What You're Selling.
I spoke to Weltman recently, and I first asked him to elaborate on the claim in his book that the biggest misconception about making ads is that freedom improves creativity.
"Creativity is basically a pathological aversion to the status quo," Weltman said. "Too much freedom says 'Well, nobody's figured out yet what we need to change to solve this problem' and they're asking creative people to figure it out. Usually what helps me is someone thinks they've figured it out and I find an easier or better way. I always find my most creative solutions come when I've got the tightest brief with the most restrictions."
What it means for your business: You know you don't have everything figured out in how to run your business, but of those things that you do think you have figured out, challenge your assumptions. Put them up to scrutiny. If things, either a product or a process, are working, ask why--or better yet, ask your customers why.
We then got to talking about how business owners communicate with customers and prospects. Weltman believes that we all communicate for essentially two reasons: to either transfer facts or to evoke emotions.
"What's more important in the way you're communicating your product: transferring facts or evoking emotions? It depends on what you're trying to do," he says. "In certain types of ads the facts are really important, like when you're trying to impart a sense of urgency among customers to increase or bump sales. But when you're trying to get people to remember and feel familiar with the most important distinguishing aspect of your product, often times it's the emotions that you evoke that make that familiarity remembered."
What it means for your business: If you're having trouble distinguishing your product from your competition, then find out what it is about your customers that is different from everybody else's customers.
Once you've done that, try to locate what it is about their lives that would change if your product were to suddenly cease to exist. You have the beginnings of the emotional response that your product generates--and the root of your product messaging.