Sarah Weeden@srweeden • I write an advice column for 20-Somethings from a 20-Something. I don't know what I'll do when I turn 30.
So, you have a degree in advertising, marketing, mass communications, business. You have read every word in every advertising textbook, agency blog, CMO/CEO/CCO autobiography.
You know advertising.
But none of it means anything if you don’t know your client.
This doesn’t mean knowing what they want from their advertising and what they need for their brand. It means something as simple as knowing what your client does. What product/service to they provide? How is it used? What benefits does it serve?
Some brands are “easy”– everyone has used a bar of soap before. The same goes for cereal, cars, furniture, department stores — you name it. Sure, the brands within these categories have their own personalities, but at least you know what they do — what they’re used for.
But what if your new client is an investment firm? Better yet, what if you’ve never had more than 500 bucks in your savings account and the only thing you’ve ever invested in is a pair of Air Jordans, and your new client is an investment firm? Then what?
That’s where the importance of being well-rounded comes in.
Yes, it’s important to understand advertising. Yes, it’s important to know about strategy and branding and creative production. But you need to learn more than that. Your education — whether it comes from school, peers or experience — should consist of more than just this industry.
Because, when you get that investment firm brief on your desk, you’re going to be glad you took Finance 101 in college. Not because it taught you everything you need to know to knock this assignment out of the park, but because it’s keeping you from freaking out when you see vocabulary like “hedge fund.”
Don’t limit yourself to only taking in the world of advertising. Take in everything. I mean everything. Read fashion blogs, watch the Food Network, subscribe to The Economist. Learn as much as you can about everything you can. That way, when you get that new client, you’ll have some idea of what you’re doing.
DISCLAIMER: There are a hundred thousand million reasons why it’s good to be well-rounded. This is just one.