10 Things to Know Before You Start Working in Marketing or Advertising

Pursuing a career in marketing or advertising? Your job search plan can lead to greater results if you know that the difference between facing frustration and getting a job and a promotion is understanding some strategic insights frequently overlooked. Landing a marketing job in a global company or a position in an advertising agency network requires much more than monitoring of newspapers, magazines and TV ads or staying updated on new products and campaigns. You may lack the necessary competitive advantage to enter and succeed in the glamorous world of building brands even if you could recite hundreds of famous advertising slogans from top of mind and your resume shows all kinds of experiences and skills in social media, online-, shopper-, digital-, experiential- and whatever-the-latest-trend-is-called- marketing. Without doubt your resume, skills set and personality can get you in the race but to increase your chances to get the job you want, learn the things many professionals wish they knew before starting a career in marketing or advertising.

1. The best brainstorming is the one in which everyone arrives without cell phones and laptops. Simply put, in marketing and advertising, multitasking is not always the best way to generate big ideas under the pressure of a very tight schedule. You have to stay focused to keep track and avoid repetition (ergo, the waste of time).

2. The secret to highly productive meetings is to include participants without insecurities and need for validation. This means you must know your place in the food chain and understand that there are people who could know more about a certain topic, even if the only mouse they recognize is the little nasty rodent. Listen and learn. They might not be always right but that is a lesson too. If you try too hard to impress and shine you put yourself at risk of getting labeled and marginalized.

3. Creativity by random inspiration is art. Creativity inspired by strategy or insights, that’s advertising. Inspiration is everywhere, true; but when you are selling an idea you must show beyond doubt that it fits the strategy. Otherwise it will carry a perceived risk of randomness. Keep in mind that there is a lot of money involved in the process and ultimately meeting the marketing objectives is the most common way to measure success.

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4.Considering Daniel Flamberg’s “5 Larger than life agency personalities”, the marketing and advertising industries could use more Pleasers and less Empty Suits. Don’t be mistaken. Pleasers are not “yes persons”, they are professionals capable of listening and willing to act even if they disagree because they trust their team. On the other hand, Empty Suits are a big burden or, better yet, “the co-workers you love to hate”. As Flamberg describes, they are known “to dump their work off on others, ignore deadlines and timetables, never know any important details or data, but they often claim credit for others’ work. They rarely stay late or put themselves out and never praise colleagues in front of bosses or clients.” You will find at least one of these in every company. Somehow they have managed to climb the corporate ladder relying mostly on their charm and their looks.

5. The best of the marketing and advertising industries? That it’s fun!!! Yes, it is really hard to get bored but it requires a lot of passion and commitment to work harder each day. Don’t expect a calendar filled with TV productions, launching events, traveling plans and adventurous creative parties. Recent financial constraints and the emerging internet strategies have changed the business dynamics, forcing employees to develop very close intimate relationships with their computers.

6. The worst? The office bullies. If you thought the only bad things were low salaries, long hours and ego battles, beware! Bullies are a hidden cancer. Learn as much as you can about how to recognize them so you never ever get in their way. So far, no legal, psychology or human resources guru has found formula to neutralize their effect. If you find yourself working closely to someone that shows bulling behavior (as a direct report or a team member), the best thing to do to protect your career and your mental health is to collaborate with other people in the company. That way, when the bully starts creating doubts about your capabilities (as a mechanism to hide his/her wrongdoings) others will have personal experiences to discredit the comments.

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7. Creative Awards are NOT the Oscars. Certainly, winning a Creative Award (i.e. Cannes, FIAP, Clio, etc.) is a great feeling. In fact they are vital for differentiation in categories where many have similar offerings. Unfortunately, such accolades don’t do for products and brands, what Oscars do for films. They don’t impact sales. Since no marketing or advertising professional has been able to prove beyond doubt that creative award winning campaigns are an unbeatable sales booster, you must be very careful when you use the award-winning-potential speech to sell your ideas. There’s a 50/50 chance that clients consider the subject either a sensitive or a fascinating one. Still, most decision makers are determined to make money for which they feel skeptical about using the award winning potential criteria to decide investing in an idea. If, at the end of the day, you end up feeling trapped in an uncreative cycle, write a book, paint, create a charity group or try any other outlet to unleash your inspiration and sensibility. You can even submit those to art competitions, literary contests or community awards panels. Winning any of these will also look good on your resume.

8. I believe there are three new forms of ” flattery” in advertising and marketing. Whether they seem right or not, with a little mental training they can be for your ego as good a long letter of recommendation.
– In “Adoption” someone takes credit for your ideas. No, they didn’t steal them. They just adopted and nurtured them, and like many adoptive parents gave them their last name.
“Implied endorsement” occurs when someone who’s never been fond of you, drops your name or suggests there’s a connection (i.e. neighbors, family, etc.) as if implying you had some influence on what they are going to present. They need you and they can’t help it.
“You set the standard” -Let’s say, you finish your turn to present an idea and the spontaneous client’s feedback suggests they really liked it. Then, a co-worker presenting right after opens up saying something like “if you liked this wait until you see what I’m showing next”. What your co-worker just did is acknowledging that you (your presentation) are the standard of quality. As hard as it is to swallow that is a good thing too.

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9. The moment you “add to friends”, “tag a photo”, confirm your attendance to an event or join a group that is remotely related to work, your Facebook profile is no longer personal. This means, you should behave as if company policies apply (at least if you want to be taken seriously and want to keep your job for the long run.) If you can’t or won’t avoid crossing paths with co-workers and clients in your social network, make sure you remove those revealing wild partying photos, and monitor what family and friends post on your walls. You definitely don’t want a client to read your cousin’s colorful comment on a photo saying “what are you doing drinking that shitty brand you hate so much?”

10. Usually, there’s a misconception about roles and specialization areas in marketing and advertising. Many people still think that in order to be the best, you must define yourself. They expect you to be creative or rational, financial or marketer, etc. Some even get very protective about it and argue about which discipline or professional is the most qualified to decide the future a brand. What they are not aware of yet is that within the modern business dynamics, strategy, creativity and financial plans acting independently are just ideas running on luck. When working together they are like a family; they may fight often but when they make up great things happen. Putting consumers’ and brands’ needs first and working in collaboration with total respect is so far the best plan to succeed.