8 marketing tips from Progressive CMO Jeff Charney

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Jeff Charney.
Jeff Charney.

The era of Don Draper is over. Get over it

NEW YORK — Progressive Insurance CMO Jeff Charney, who ranked number 35 on Fast Company’s 2012 list of its100 most creative people in business list, shared his top tips with the crowd at the PRWeek Conference in New York on Wednesday.

1. Don Draper is dead. Marketing pros are so much more than the ad guy.

"You are much broader," Charney said. "But the one thing about Draper that will not die is his creative spirit."

2. If you don’t like change, get out of the market. More has changed in the past five years than in the previous 100.

3. Listen to your customers. If companies listen to their customers, they will be told exactly what they need to know.

4. Trendsetting. The best marketers do not follow trends, they stay ahead of them
 
5. Embrace "memory-lane marketing." Charney explained that this kind of marketing approach "takes [consumers] back to happy days and reduces stress."
 
Progressive used it in its popular "Sprinkles are for winners" commercial, which was designed to look like an '80s after-school special.

The tagline caught on so much that Lil Wayne even referenced it in his recent song, "Pick Up Your Heart."

6. Follow the "age people think" concept.  Do not target people at their age; it is more about how people think, not demographics, Charney said.

Charney explained that his 45-year-old coworker is into smartwatches, and was first-in-line for the new Star Wars BB-8 toy. Meanwhile, his 25-year-old coworker hates Facebook and reads a hard copy of the Wall Street Journal every day.

Progressive is "trying to nail this concept" with its Babyman Facebook ad, that could be directed at any age, telling people to get their own insurance policy.

7. A CMO should be fired every 18 months. Not literally, but every 18 months, Charney imagines being fired and asks himself, "What if I replaced Jeff Charney?"
 
He said it feels good to replace yourself with everything you have learned.
 
8. The marketing term "disruption" is alive and well.  You are wasting your money if you are not disrupting, Charney said.

This article first appeared on prweek.com.

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