Brand Strategy

What can I do to transition to a junior strategist role in my agency? Are there classes, books, projects, etc. that will help me get the ball rolling? What are the entry-level requirements?

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I am a strategist and personally think Miami ad school for Strat has become a bit of a fraud. Yes to connect with your strategist and perhaps try to work alongside junior / senior strats on some projects. If you have what it takes and if your team / agency is smart, the move will happen. If you are eager to make the transition and feel it’s not happening where you are then start looking for Strat roles elsewhere.

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I didnt do that boot camp, so I’m not sure if it’s a fraud or not. But it could help badge your way in, if all else fails. MAD does a decent job at PR and putting people into roles. That I do know. That being said, if you know strategy, you can always do freelance consulting. The actual art of researching,formulating brainstorming sessions, surveys, etc might come later... but you can focus on how digital strategy works and have a “know how” process you can help small clients with.

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Typically, there aren’t any hard lined “requirements” for a junior level strategy position. I would start by making connections with members of the strategy department and letting them know your interest in making the transition. Show that you have genuine curiosity and can hold their attention while speaking to them and you should be all right.

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Why do you want to be a strategist? Everyone who mentioned curiosity is right. Tbh at your level, I don’t really look for background or experience. I look for a) brainpower b) curiosity and fresh perspective and c) writing skills. Also listening and storytelling instinct, both of which are easy enough to figure out. If you’ve somehow impressed me along the way (usually by asking thoughtful/interesting questions) and I have evidence of the traits above, I’d support your transition into the strategy team. I put 0 value on specific strategy skills or something like Miami ad school, because the fundamentals are not hard to learn for someone who has the brains to be great at the job anyhow. There’s a lot of craft and tacit knowledge in what we do. It’s learned on the job, from peers and mentors, not through formal education in it. A formal background in marketing, advertising, or strategy usually is a red flag for me unless it’s from VCU and is backed by an education outside of advertising.

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This. Don’t forget that it’s fun too!

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Don’t got to school. Take the initiative and come up with a solution to a current client issue. Partner with other strategists for their feedback and guidance. When you’re feeling good about it, draft a brief and show the strategy to the strategy Director. Show that you’re hungry and take a leap of faith - that’s the real secret sauce.

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Depending of what agency/environment you land, some will call the role Strategist and others Planner. The commonality (IMO) is measurability. As other comments stated, insight finding, research, survey creation/execution, and brief-building will get better as a skillset (with bigger and better challenges), but if you don't understand the fundamental metrics and KPIs of the digital landscape (most common being Web and Social), then you're in a higher disadvantage as Strategists are highly analytical and naturally curious. I say this, because I'm now at a larger agency with a dedicated team of Strategist and even the internships for an entry level (within the strategy division) requires that you don't mind reading/researching your 🍑 off, but that you at the very least pass the Google (Web) Analytics Certification within the first two weeks of the internship. I think if you have the hunger and are willing to learn, others will see that and start giving you more Strat-based work. Just be honest with yourself and whomever you connect about your level of know-how. You don't have to know the formula for GRPs or CPIs (Media Buying), but if you have a solid understanding of the basic metrics in the digital landscape, fellow Strategists will know you "speak their language".

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Interesting - I strongly disagree with this in terms of the specifics but am with you on curiosity.

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Book-wise, I'd start with Positioning, Kotler on Advertising, and for an entertaining, inside view of some of biggest and baddest Ad Campaigns of the 70s, 80s, and 90s I'd suggest Truth, Lies, and Advertising. These were done in the days of traditional media, but the way these campaigns came to fruition, will help you (hopefully) see how the "Human Truth" or "The Human Insight" can come from places you don't expect it.

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Thank you all!

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Miami ad school has a 10 week boot camp. But start with talking to the strategists

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