So you want to be in advertising…

I recently came across a question on Twitter about how to get started in a career in marketing or advertising.  I’m sure we all have our own origin stories and the journeys that brought us to where we are today are as varied as the individuals that experienced them.  So, here are a few general ideas to get you started based on my own foray into the world of marketing and advertising.  Do try these at home, though results may vary.


Everything you can get your hands on.  Stay up to date on trends and thought leaders.  Don’t insulate yourself with only blogs or books on business or marketing.  Read about creativity, science, innovation.  When you are in an industry that runs on inspiration you have to make sure that you are constantly feeding it from many and varied sources.  That said, here are a couple of my favorite blogs:

Seth Godin’s Blog:It should go without saying but Seth Godin is one of the smartest minds out there, period.  I read his blog every day, without fail.  Sometimes it’s both thought- and action-proving.  Others it’s just a nice little nugget, but what you won’t find from this best-selling author of TribeLinchpin,  and Purple Cow to name a few is a watered down or insulated view of the industry.

David Meerman Scott:If you know anything about social media, this name should be on your radar as he literally edits the book series, The New Rules of Social Media.  David is a profound voice in the world of marketing and advertising and is a wealth of information on topics from PR and Social Media to the art of Selling.  And don’t kid yourself.  If you’re in advertising, you’re in sales.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame.  He offers simple and practical advice on business, marketing and the like.

Other places to find inspired content are Wired Magazine and Fast Company.


Check out what sort of agencies have sprung up in your area.  You’re likely to find everything from boutique specialty shops to gigantic agencies of record with household name clients.  Reach out to them.  Don’t ask for a job, but do ask for some time to come by and see what they do.  Most agencies have an interest in educating and you never know where the networking could lead.


If you are affiliated with a college or school, they more than likely have a career center that can help match you with agencies or companies who are looking for interns.  Every internship I had in school was unpaid, but it offered a wealth of experience.  There are some larger shops that do offer paid internships, but expect to start at the bottom and work hard no matter which way it goes.

The world of advertising and marketing is not as glamorous as Hollywood would have you believe, but it is an amazing way to combine business with creativity and get an end product you can be proud of.

Social and Accessible

Today’s market is used to being able to find out exactly what they want to know when they want to know it.  According to research by Tata Consultancy Services, average sized companies were expected to spend between $13 and $22 Million to market, sell and service digital mobile consumers through their devices. These numbers are expected to rise dramatically by 2015.

That’s no surprise, right?  Why then aren’t companies keeping pace?  According to Google more than 79% of its largest advertisers don’t have a mobile-friendly site.  Mobile is the wave of the future, friends.

So what do we expect as consumers and people with interests while we are searching millions of pieces of data to find exactly what we need to know.  We expect to be able to connect with exactly the right piece of data, be that a new recipe, a friend request, or access to people with influence in the companies we want to know more about.

David Meerman Scott posted a fantastic blog today about the #SocialCEO.  In it he cites the success that such household names as Richard Branson, Marissa Meyer, and Arianna Huffington have achieved by being accessible to their customers. So how social and accessible are you? 

While wandering the streets of San Francisco between meetings, my colleague Taylor Johnson and I happened along this setup in the lobby of Umqua Bank.  It’s simple and old school.  Not mobile at all.  But it’s certainly accessible.  There it is, right there at the top  — a direct line to the bank president.  And any customer can literally walk in off the street and call.


How are your customers reaching you?  How are they interacting with your brand?  Are you part of the conversation?