Top 10 Skills Needed for a Career in Advertising

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Many people confuse marketing and advertising, but they are different. Marketing is essentially the overall strategy for communicating a message and advertising is one part of that strategy - usually the largest part. This makes it an extremely fast-paced, financially rewarding career, but it’s not for everyone! Some people just don’t have what it takes to be an advertiser because it is a very demanding job that requires a broad range of skills.

If you are interested in pursuing this specific aspect of marketing, here are the top 10 skills you need to become an expert.

1. Teamwork

It’s impossible to succeed professionally if you are not willing to work with others. You are going to have to collaborate with a lot of people, many of whom you may not like or have no desire to work with. Being a team player will help you see beyond the individual foibles or issues of your team, and ensure that you keep your eye on the big picture: creating successful ads.

2. Creativity

The more creative you are, the easier you will find your advertising career no matter what your speciality in the field is. Whether you are creating content or advertising on social media, creativity needs to be part of your work. Advertising is mainly taking a new, unique approach to an old product or service.

3. People skills

Advertising or any other form of marketing is all about interacting with and influencing people, so you will need some pretty sharp people skills to be a successful advertiser. You will need to work with a client base that may be highly demanding, which makes it a high-stress job even if you have excellent people skills. Good communication skills, showing empathy and showing a genuine interest in others are essential requirements to creating working relationships.

4. Problem-solving

Advertising is one complex puzzle that truly has no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, but there are many possible solutions. With the right problem-solving skills, you will be able to come up with an appropriate solution to any dilemma presented, and you need to do it quick. This can help you produce the most effective advertising campaigns possible.

5. Money management

You will almost certainly have a strict advertising budget, and you will need to know how to operate within that budget to succeed. Learning how to manage the money you are given for advertising campaigns effectively can help you maximise your resources and give you a better chance of achieving your marketing goals.

6. Patience

Your marketing and advertising campaigns will always take time to elicit the desired response, and a patient advertiser has a greater chance of success. Don’t forget you will make lots of mistakes before you close that first deal or get the attention of your target audience. Results can take time, and you might launch some great ads, but you need to have the patience to wait and see what happens.

7. Decision-making

You’re going to have to make judgment calls based on what your ‘gut’ tells you is right or wrong. This means that you will need to consider the costs and benefits of your actions, with the goal of trying to select what you think to be the most appropriate action to ensure the success of your advertising. Successful decision making is the balance between creativity and logic, and the use of both allows you to make effective choices.

8. Persuasion

Advertising is all about persuading other people to think the way you want them to. It’s also about making them realise that they need the product you are selling even though they already have a similar one at home. The easier it’s for you to convince them to share your opinion, the more successful you will be in the world of advertising.

9. Time management

If you can’t manage your own time – and other people’s time – you will never make those critical deadlines to get the job done. Organisational skills are of vital importance for any job, but when it comes to advertising, there will be some deadlines you need to meet and some important conferences with clients to attend.

10. Listening

Advertising experts say that listening is one the most powerful skills you can have. To understand what people want and present them with the best product or service, you need to be able to listen and understand what they are telling you. Active listening skills are a must for anyone interested in working in advertising because it ensures that you answer to your audience’s needs.

Developing your skills is a never-ending process if you want to have a successful career in advertising. However, the more you progress, the more experience you get and you learn how to deal with the demands of the profession. If you are still on the job hunt, don’t forget to show evidence of these skills on your CV!

Are there any other skills that should be added to this list? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!


This article was originally published in March 2015.