It takes real talent to be able to get the most out of an advertising agency and still keep peace with the boys back at the ranch. This is one talent that every brand manager and advertising or marketing director must have if he ever hopes to enjoy any real success.
If you want to get into advertising on the client side, and if you want to work in marketing, the person to call is the advertising manager or marketing director, depending upon who is in charge of the advertising or marketing department of the company you call. That person's name isn't hard to find. Simply check the Standard Directory of Advertisers, which you'll find in your library. It lists almost every advertiser in existence, large and small. It also lists their advertising agency and the titles of almost everyone at the advertiser who has anything to do with advertising or marketing. Just set up an appointment with the appropriate person.
What will an advertiser look for in a prospective employee? Let's start with education. Just about any advertiser will want you to have a college degree. What that degree is in is up to you. It could be in marketing, merchandising, business management, or administration. Whatever you do though, it is a very good idea to expand your education into as many different advertising-related fields as possible. Take courses in psychology and even graphics and film production. The broader your educational background, the better your chances will be of getting hired.
Then there's the area of summer jobs.
You could work for a large advertiser and learn not only about marketing, but also about the way they do business. Then, possibly, you could move out of college and right into a full-time position with them. You could also try getting in with a smaller advertiser. It might not mean as much down the road, but you would definitely learn enough to make it a worthwhile experience. Call a marketing firm or two, or a media buying service. You can even try getting into an agency.
Any place that does business with advertisers would be a great place for you to work during the summer, too. In fact, any of these places would be a good bet for full-time employment if you can't find exactly what you want after graduation. And that is entirely possible. Most advertisers are inundated with enough applicants to allow them the luxury of being choosy. You can make it, though, if you really want to.
Life as an advertiser isn't easy, especially these days. The pressure can be enormous. Advertisers always seem to be asked to find new ways to cut costs and, at the same time, increase the effectiveness of their advertising. At times it can be a difficult environment in which to work, even more difficult than agencies, and, quite honestly, at times an advertiser's agency doesn't make life any easier.
Top management at advertisers tends to see the products or services they provide differently from the creative teams at agencies. At the same time, an agency's bread and butter comes not from how the advertiser perceives its own product or service, but from how the agency can manipulate the consumer's perception of that product or service.
Those two different points of view can sometimes add up to problems for an advertising manager. For example, when an agency recommends a comedic commercial for a product that the client's management thinks is anything but funny, it takes an unusually strong and clear-thinking ad manager to even listen to the agency's reason for their recommendation. It's a rare ad manager indeed who, if he agrees with his agency, has the street guts to walk into a room full of superiors and say, "Hey guys, hold up a minute. We might be wrong."
Ad managers like that do exist, though. You don't read about them changing jobs very often. Most companies do almost anything to keep them happy, because a good ad manager is the person at the advertiser most responsible for the success or failure of a venture. When a company has someone who can do it all-handle the marketing, get consistently brilliant creative work out of the agency, keep The-Powers-That-Be-On-The-Home-Front happy, and sell beans-all at the same time, it knows it has got a real find.
No matter what advertiser you work for, though, and whether or not you've got a string of success stories to your credit, everyone on the client side of the business eventually experiences what is probably the best part of that job: control over one of the most powerful communications machines on the planet - an advertising budget.