The marketing, advertising, and sales sector is varied, creative, rewarding, and highly competitive. This guide is packed with insider tips on how to get essential experience that will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Who works in marketing, advertising, and sales?
The marketing, advertising, and sales sector is a particularly broad one with a number of roles available in each area.
- Marketing: people who work in marketing use research and data to identify the best way of meeting customers’ needs. They might also develop company branding and help maintain an online presence. Roles in marketing include:
- Advertising: advertising part of marketing - people in advertising use the data and strategy worked out by marketers to sell a product, service, organisation, or idea. People in advertising generally promote these things on TV, radio, social media, billboards, public transport, and in print. Roles in advertising include:
- Sales: sales is another area of marketing - think of it like the end product: while marketers plan a strategy and advertisers get the word out, people who work in sales close the deal. Their job is to use what the marketing and advertising teams have created to make a profit for the organisation. Roles in sales include:
What skills will you need to demonstrate?
- Interpersonal skills - whichever area you choose to work in, building relationships with other people or organisations is a key skill in this sector, whether that’s people in your own team, potential clients, or industry professionals. Your interpersonal skills might be the difference between winning or losing a big client!
- Creativity and imagination - while you don’t need to be an artist, you do need to be forward thinking in order to come up with innovative marketing campaigns and appealing advertisements. Being creative will help you to create unique ideas that communicate a message in an original way.
- Organisation skills - while the adverts you see on TV and online might look effortless, they actually take a lot of work and strategy. This sector isn’t just about creating brilliant ideas – you need to be able to see them through with excellent time management, prioritisation, and planning skills.
How can you get experience?
At school, college, and university
- Get involved in a business or enterprise project. Find out if your school is involved in Young Money and Young Enterprise or something similar. Being part of an enterprise project or competition will give you valuable experience in creating an idea for a product or service and discovering its market value.
- Fundraise. Fundraising takes a lot of work and requires some of the key skills you need to be successful in marketing, advertising, and sales - from researching an event or product that will be popular to advertising the event to making money on the day, you’ll get tons of experience and learn how different groups of people think.
- Explore more deeply. If you’re asked to write an essay or piece of coursework that you can tailor to the industry, use this as an opportunity to research something interesting about marketing! You can use the Subjects library and the Read, Watch, Listen tool for inspiration - think about things like the language of marketing, or the history of advertising. This will show future employers or admissions tutors that you’re invested enough to use your own time to explore the industry.
- Promote a club or society. Whether you’re on the school netball team or part of your university’s extreme ironing society, see if you can get promoting! Explore different ways to produce written and video content, generate a following online, and track what has been successful and unsuccessful. Reflect on what you have learnt in applications and interviews, remembering to use statistics of increased followers and subscribers.
- Choose your subjects wisely. While you don’t necessarily need a specific qualification related to the sector, choosing post 14 and 16 subjects like business studies, media studies, English language, or English literature will help you develop relevant skills and knowledge. If you’re thinking about taking a degree or an apprenticeship, you might want to consider something in marketing, business, or communications for specialist knowledge and industry experience.
- Volunteer for a non-profit organisation. Volunteering is a great way to get experience and build your skills. Non-league sport teams, places of worship, and charities, for example, might be able to offer you the chance to help out around the commercial department or develop their social media accounts. Learning about the fundamentals of how a marketing team works is priceless and will give you invaluable experience. Check out our guide Volunteering: why it matters and how to start for more information.
- Become a brand ambassador. Depending on how you go about this, you might have to wait until you’re 18, but becoming a brand ambassador on social media or in physical campaigns will teach you how to promote brands and increase engagement with a target audience.
- Build a personal brand online. Write for a blog, create your own (and post regularly!), create videos, and develop active social media accounts to learn about the best ways to get people engaging with your content. Remember to set your privacy settings properly on any profiles you want to maintain for purely social purposes.
- Learn some basic design skills or communication strategies. You can learn so much from YouTube and from taking MOOCs (which are often free!). Doing this in your own time can really set you apart from other candidates in an application or interview - you’ve put your own time into learning something, showing your natural curiosity in the sector.
- Talk to people. Make sure you’re following your favourite brands and the companies you believe are impressive. Reach out to their staff members on social media or LinkedIn and see if there are opportunities to attend presentations, seminars, or talks on different areas of marketing, but make sure you tell a family member or friend if you choose to go to any of these, or - better yet - take them with you!
- Read. Marketing - especially digital marketing - is an extremely popular blog topic online. Stay in the know about the most recent trends by subscribing to blogs and podcasts. You can find lots of examples in the Read, Watch, Listen tool.
Most marketing departments will take on a work experience student aged 16+ for a couple of weeks if you’re enthusiastic and passionate about the opportunity. Your school or college’s Careers Department might already have links with organisations for this kind of placement. If they don’t, try contacting local small businesses or local non-profit organisations - when you do this, focus on a recent marketing campaign of theirs that you were impressed with, and remember to show them what you can bring to them as well as what you hope to learn from the experience. Check out our guide ‘A guide to work experience’ for more tips.
Good stuff from elsewhere
Find out about hot topics, trends, and opinions in the world of marketing.
The Guardian: Marketing and PR
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BBC Three’s Top 10 for Media Success
An article from BBC Three aimed at helping people be more successful in the industry.