12 Skills Needed for a Successful Career in Advertising

In a digital world that is always vying for our attention, the advertisement industry has become very profitable. As social media advances and the way we consume advertisement continues to evolve, this sector has become even more lucrative.

However, to take your first steps in this field and succeed, you need to possess a range of skills. 

So, apart from having a great work ethic, thick skin and being social media savvy, what other key skills do you need to have to work in this exciting industry? 

We have compiled a list of advertising skills needed to kick-start a successful career in this field to help you out.

1. Creativity

Having bags of creativity and being equipped with an endless array of ideas that you can pick from your brain during an intense brainstorming session is essential, especially when working in a field that involves creating eye-catching content to sell a brand or a product. 

Having a creative personality and imaginative ideas will allow you to create content that can grab the comsumers’ attention in an often-oversaturated market. 

So, whether you want to be a copywriter or a graphic designer, this industry will allow you to hone your creative skills and take full advantage of them.

2. Teamwork

Creating a successful advertising campaign takes a team of talented professionals, so having the ability to work as part of a team is crucial. 

Account managers, creatives and marketing executives will be required to routinely put their heads together and develop imaginative content while also ensuring that the client’s needs are being met. 

The collaborative effort of those involved in a project will ultimately determine its success. Having the ability to take criticism (even when you think your idea is amazing) and incorporate other peoples’ ideas into your own vision is part and parcel of working as part of a team of creatives.

3. Communication skills

Effective communication skills are essential, especially when you are pitching an idea to your team. 

However, being a good communicator is not just vital for internal team dialogues. You will also find yourself having regular discussions with clients, which will involve lots of back-and-forth and frequent correspondences. So, knowing how to communicate effectively and professionally is crucial. 

Whether you’re having a discussion with your team or presenting a project to a client, having the ability to convey information clearly is crucial, especially in an industry that is all about selling yourself and your pitch.

4. Active listening

While communication skills are indeed important, the ability to actively listen is also crucial. Working in the field of advertisement will regularly bring you in contact with various people, including your colleagues and clients, who will relay project details or pitch their ideas to you. 

As an advertiser, you cannot afford to ignore or misinterpret your clients or co-workers, especially when details are essential to the successful completion of a project.

5. Computer skills

Having adequate computer skills is obligatory in an industry that is fast becoming focused solely on digital marketing. Depending on your role, most of your day-to-day operations will involve working from your computer while using software like Photoshop and Illustrator. Or you may find yourself simply responding to client emails while relaying project specifications. 

Either way, being able to work with technology is pivotal. Having experience working with software and tools used by advertising agencies to strategise and manage their projects is also important!

6. Social media skills

Being social media savvy will help you stay in the loop with the latest online trends and developments. Considering that the modern consumer mostly digests content through social media platforms and is determined by what pops up on their newsfeed, having a good grasp of these different apps and tools will boost your work performance. 

7. Commercial awareness

While we have already covered the need to be aware of the different social media trends and platforms, being commercially aware encapsulates a lot more than just knowing how to send a tweet. 

Understanding the market and being at the forefront of consumers’ wants and needs is essential in fulfilling clients’ business requirements and project specifications. 

Having commercial awareness while working in the advertisement field involves:

  • Doing comprehensive market and product research
  • Reading trade and retail publications
  • Keeping an eye on the financial market.

8. Research skills

Speaking of research, having the ability to comb through numerous sources to find inspiration will prove quite useful to you. 

Research skills require both concentration and commitment to the process as you steadily flick through a catalogue of case studies, academic research reports and previous advertising campaigns. This will prove to be beneficial when you are cultivating your next great idea for a major client.

9. Multitasking skills

Working in advertising often means having to wear many different hats. Being able to actively balance budgets while interpreting complex information are just some of the tasks you will be expected to do while managing a project. 

Working on different projects can be complex and quite demanding, as they involve an array of tasks such as market research, metrics coordination, product testing and client feedback. 

Knowing how to balance these tasks without compromising on the finer details will be key in ensuring success.

10. Marketing skills

Do you know how to plan, design, and present compelling advertising campaigns to the public? These are just some of the performance indicators that you will measure when creating and implementing an advertising campaign. 

People tend to get marketing and advertising confused, but they actually couldn’t be any more different. Marketing is essentially the overall strategy for promoting a brand, product or service, so having a good understanding of different marketing techniques and strategies is vital for any professional in the advertisement industry.

11. Organisational skills

As you may have already guessed, being an organised individual is a must for working in the advertisement sector, and for a good reason. A day in the life of an advertiser can be quite hectic, and being able to keep to tight deadlines while managing multiple appointments with clients and colleagues requires extraordinary organisation skills. 

12. Adaptability

In a continuously evolving market, having the willingness and ability to learn and try new things is imperative. 

Just think of how much advertising has changed in the last few decades and the changes that will inevitably take place years from now. Advertisers must continuously evolve with technology to reach new audiences. Being able to adapt to these changes will help you stay on top.

Working in the advertising industry can be quite rewarding; you will get the chance to work with a diverse range of people and work on numerous creative projects.

Consumers are being bombarded with advertisements every day. If you have the creativity and skill to make them pause and pay attention to your own campaigns, then you may find that this is the right career for you.

What other advertising skills do you think are essential to work within this field? Share them with us in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 17 July 2017.

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