As Aker Ink turned 13, the team experienced a wave of nostalgia in reminiscing about when each of us were teenagers (as seen in the photos shared here, we have come a long way—some more than others). We got to talking about what advice we would give our teenage selves, and realized much of it is also applicable to marketing.

Do your homework
As teens, most of us had to show our homework was done before we were permitted to do anything fun. Not only did that prepare us to get the challenging tasks out of the way before the easy ones, but it also primed us to do the research that informs strategic planning, competitive analyses and messaging. Somewhere along the way, doing our homework became something we enjoy—and something we are known for doing well.

Do what you enjoy
Teens often receive this advice about choosing a career. Within marketing (and many other careers), the same holds true—there are many opportunities to specialize and focus on one’s strengths. It’s certainly true at Aker Ink, where our individual talents and interest in media relations, writing, social media, SEO and interactive marketing enable us to offer comprehensive services.

Don’t be afraid to try new things
This popular advice for teens encouraging them to explore extracurricular activities (or eat something other than pizza) is even more valuable for marketing. The industry has changed considerably over the last 13 years; those willing to learn new skills and employ new strategies and tactics have often been the most successful.

Don’t be afraid to fail
Much has been written and said about helicopter parents who shield their teens from failure—this particular bit of advice given to teens goes double for marketing. Even when a strategy or tactic doesn’t work, wise companies still view it as an opportunity to learn something about the business or audience—and come back with something better.

Have a plan
Teens—and a lot of adults—waste a large percentage of their lives worrying about things that will never happen. Advising them to have a plan is good, and advising them to have multiple plans is even better. Anyone in marketing—and especially in events planning—will attest things never go exactly as planned; however, anticipating and preparing for the contingencies ensures you will successfully weather any curveball thrown at you.

Surround yourself with good friends
Parents implore teens to do this in hopes they will stay out of trouble—in marketing, having mentors and advisory boards accomplishes so much more. Although they certainly can point out hazards to avoid, they also help individuals and companies bring in new business, share best practices and push outside the comfort zone.

When you get dumped, be thankful
Teens view being dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend as the end of the world—and businesses can be tempted to fall into the same trap. Just as teens should listen to parents and friends telling them they can do better, smart companies see a client or customer leaving as an opportunity to woo a competitor, pursue an adjacent vertical market or make some improvements that strengthen their market position.

Don’t jump on the bandwagon
Parents usually phrase this as, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” Their attempt to get their teens to be independent thinkers instead of followers is also great advice for companies. Just because a competitor is doing something doesn’t mean it’s a strategic move for you. Make sure there is a strong business case for going along with the crowd—not just that’s it’s “cool” right now. This same advice is also valuable for making statements about and supporting social causes—do so in a way that makes sense for your company and its mission.

Don’t let the naysayers get to you
Parents are often a teen’s biggest cheerleader, helping to remove the sting of criticism. Although they’re admittedly biased, this advice is solid for teens and marketing. Unless they’re Wendy’s, companies generally can’t retort with a burn, but they can and should shake it off and respond maturely.

Trust your gut
Hoping to convince their teens to make better choices, parents admonish them to listen to their inner selves and act on what they know to be the right answer. It’s equally good advice for marketing—too many companies second guess themselves and waste valuable time and energy agonizing over decisions great and small. When it comes to marketing, if you have chosen the right agency, you are in good hands. If your gut tells you that you haven’t, Aker Ink would love the opportunity to discuss your needs.

Having been in business for 13 years, we must be doing something right.