You know that age old saying “I’ll never use this in the real world?” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but you actually use more of it than the you thought. In the ad world, you can have clients who operate in any industry, and you will become a near expert on everything about that company. So, knowing how a seed becomes a plant or where that one city is on a map suddenly becomes handy. Oh, and those acronyms you either learned or made up in your head to pass that one class in your major? You might not want to get rid of those yet. So, here are five things I thought I would never use in the real world, but used in the short six weeks as an intern.
Somewhere in the early days of journalism school, a professor will tell you that this acronym will help you narrow down and build an audience. And you probably sat there thinking “Why would I remember this long acronym. I’m never going to use this.” Week 2 into the internship and I found myself googling the acronym for building a target audience, because not only did I not remember what the letters stood for, but also what the letters were in general. This one acronym makes it a lot easier to think beyond just demographics and psychographics of an audience to really put yourself into their shoes, which, trust me, helps a lot when you’re struggling for that big idea.
The 5 Why’s -
I had a management professor who spent a good three hours lecturing on the 5 why’s and how it helps one problem solve. Admittedly, I may have scrolled through countless social media apps on my phone while it lay hidden behind a notebook, but that topic would soon become a reoccurring theme. A month later, my mass media research professor started asking why to nearly every student answer in class (Yes, it drove us all nuts). And here I am as an intern doing that same exact thing.
In particular, the 5 why’s is a method to discover the actual problem and not the surface level one. Let’s say the problem is that Coffee Shop A doesn’t have enough sales, so they ask you to create a campaign that will increase sales. Start off by asking why sales are low and then ask why after every answer; the end result is the actual problem.
Segment. Target. Position. Although I remembered this acronym, I do also remember sitting in class wondering if real world people sat down and did this or just went through the motions of it. Week 4 and I’m sitting at my computer typing STP into a google doc. If you have a new product or a new campaign objective compared to what the client has done in the past, this really helps you figure out what makes them so great, because you obviously know why the client is amazing, but their target audience may not.
If you majored in journalism, I guarantee you thought you would never use math. Wrong, but don’t worry. It’s not the really hard calculus stuff, but basic math and those annoying worded math problems suddenly become real. All you really need to know is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (That’s a lot, I know). The catch is that sometimes you have to use all of that just to get one number, and if you are like me, you haven’t done that in two or three years.
Even worse: time sheets. You will have to figure out how to add up hours, and for some of us it is really difficult adding hours when numbers are on a scale of ten and hours go up to twelve. If you have no idea what I tried to explain there, then consider yourself lucky, because you don’t suffer from this problem. Hint: google time calculator to help you.
SWOT Analysis -
I cannot tell you how many SWOT analyses I have done in my life, but college will not be the end. It’s not just an exercise to get you thinking like the advertiser and not the consumer; it’s a process that helps build a campaign. Shortly after receiving our first creative brief, we found ourselves repeating and bickering with one another because we all knew the same thing but no one had written it down. So SWOT analysis went up on the very helpful whiteboard in the Launchpad room.
On a side note, during our first client pitch, the client told us how refreshing it was to see a SWOT analysis as he hadn’t seen one in years. Either it normally gets excluded from the presentation or simply goes unused, but either way it is very helpful and we interns recommend it.
I mainly showed you guys just the things that come from your major courses here, but in reality you never know what client you’ll have in the future. So, try to remember the random facts in that bio class you took as a gen ed freshman year or maybe keep that notebook from the one history course you almost always fell asleep in, because it might just be handy somewhere down the line.