ADHD: The Secret Weapon for Success in Marketing? [Industry Research]

The marketing industry has more people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than you might think, according to our recent study. 

In fact, a whopping 38% of marketers surveyed reported having ADHD, compared to just 3-4% of the general population.

But here’s the twist: having ADHD could actually be a major advantage in the marketing world. 

The study found that people with ADHD tend to possess qualities that are highly valued in the industry, such as creativity, innovation, multitasking skills, and the ability to thrive in fast-paced environments with tight deadlines.

The Study

Go Amplify conducted a survey on LinkedIn, involving 184 marketing professionals, to explore the possible correlation between the marketing field and ADHD. 

Our initial goal was to identify those who had been diagnosed with ADHD. 

Surprisingly, 38% of participants disclosed their ADHD diagnosis.

After identifying those with a formal diagnosis, we proceeded to inquire if the following well-known ADHD traits and symptoms resonated with the marketing professionals: 

  • When you’re working, do you often find you are either hyper-focused on a task or can’t concentrate at all (task paralysis)?
  • Do you need a strict deadline to be able to complete a task?
  • Do you find yourself getting distracted whilst completing a task and end up doing several other tasks?
  • Are you a natural creative who always has several ideas?
  • Are you impulsive? (Acting or done without forethought)
  • Do you often find yourself interrupting others?

We considered it important to highlight participants who exhibited four or more of the aforementioned characteristics identified as common ADHD symptoms by the NHS. 

Intriguingly, our study revealed that an astounding 77% of marketers exhibited four or more ADHD symptoms. 

This discovery suggests that the marketing field may be particularly welcoming to neurodiverse individuals. However, it’s crucial to remember that exhibiting four or more of these traits does not necessarily indicate a diagnosis of ADHD.

ADHD Diagnosis

Exhibiting specific traits may suggest ADHD tendencies, but these alone are not sufficient to confirm a diagnosis.

If you suspect you may have ADHD, it is recommended to seek assistance from a healthcare professional or specialised organisation. However, due to the often challenging path to diagnosis, which can negatively impact those looking for support and treatment, many individuals opt to investigate and employ natural strategies to manage their symptoms safely.

The duration of wait times for ADHD diagnosis in the UK can differ greatly based on the location and the particular NHS trust involved. As per the information gathered by the ADHD Foundation from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), waiting times can range from as little as four to six weeks up to nearly two years.

Misdiagnosis and underdiagnosis are also prevalent due to insufficient awareness and understanding. 

Research from ADHD UK reveals that a staggering 80% of individuals with ADHD remain undiagnosed, corresponding to approximately 2 million people in the United Kingdom.

Strategies to maintain focus

Maintaining focus can be challenging for people with ADHD, but implementing a few small changes can help improve concentration and productivity. Here are some quick tips to work into your work schedule to improve focus: 

  1. Break tasks into smaller stepsDivide large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help make tasks feel less overwhelming and increase the likelihood of maintaining focus.
  2. Use timers – Set a timer for short periods (e.g., 20-25 minutes) to work on a specific task, followed by a short break. This technique, known as the Pomodoro Technique, can help maintain focus and prevent burnout.
  3. Minimise distractions  Clear your workspace of any unnecessary items, close irrelevant browser tabs, and silence notifications on electronic devices. Consider using noise-cancelling headphones or listening to white noise or instrumental music to minimise auditory distractions.
  4. Prioritise tasks – Make a to-do list and prioritise tasks according to importance and urgency, tackle the most critical tasks when you feel most focused and alert.
  5. Set specific goals – Establish clear, achievable goals for each task or project. This can provide a sense of direction and motivation to maintain focus.
  6. Establish a routine – Create a daily routine to structure your time, including regular sleep, meal, and break times. This can help create a sense of predictability and stability, making it easier to focus.
  7. Practice mindfulness – Engage in mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation, to improve focus and concentration. Regular practice can help train the brain to be more present and attentive.
  8. Take regular breaks – Give yourself short breaks to rest and recharge. Breaks can help prevent burnout and maintain focus throughout the day.
  9. Use visual aids – Use visual tools, such as mind maps or flowcharts, to help organise thoughts and ideas. Visual cues can help maintain focus and simplify complex tasks.

Everybody is unique, so it may take some experimentation to find the strategies that work best for you!

Thoughts on ADHD within Marketing

We reached out to numerous freelance marketing professionals to gain insight into the prevalence of ADHD within the marketing industry. We posed the question, “Do you think the marketing industry attracts those with ADHD?” The responses we received were quite enlightening:

"100%. I don't think those with ADHD (or symptom heavy) purposefully choose marketing. I believe the nature of the industry, the characteristics and qualities of individuals it requires and the creative chaos attract them"
"I think the marketing industry attracts people with ADHD as we tend to lean more on our creative side, it's also fast-paced with lots of new and exciting projects to work on so it never feels boring"
"Fast-paced, creative and flexible: a perfect match for ADHD. When I first stepped into marketing, I was unaware of my ADHD. But, looking back, it’s easy to see why I was drawn to the industry. The high-energy culture and variety of tasks make it ideal for people like me, who crave stimulation and enjoy thinking outside of the box. No day is the same, and I wouldn’t have it any other way"
"I didn’t intentionally choose marketing, it started out with an apprenticeship. I’ve always been attracted to social media, particularly because of the dopamine hit from using the platforms. I quickly found out it suited a lot of my qualities and enabled me to thrive. Naturally, I work very differently from neurotypical individuals. Leadership will always look different, my work ethic etc., and being in marketing has accommodated that."

Joshua Daniels, founder and MD of Go Amplify, goes on to explain, “As a marketing agency owner, I have come to realise that ADHD can be a unique strength within the marketing industry when properly harnessed. By embracing the various facets of ADHD, such as hyperfocus, creativity, and adaptability, marketers can leverage these qualities to generate innovative strategies, quickly respond to changing trends, and remain passionately engaged in their work. Understanding and supporting team members with ADHD can not only lead to a more inclusive work environment but also contributes significantly to the overall success of the company.”

Success found with ADHD 

There are numerous examples of successful individuals in the marketing and business world who have been diagnosed with ADHD. 

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, which includes over 400 companies in various industries, has been open about his ADHD diagnosis. 

His entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and willingness to take risks have helped him build one of the world’s most recognisable brands.

David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue Airways and Azul Brazilian Airlines, has credited his ADHD with enabling him to think outside the box and identify opportunities for innovation in the airline industry.

The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, revolutionised the furniture industry with his innovative approach to design and marketing. He has attributed his success in part to his ADHD, which he believes helped him develop a unique perspective on problem-solving.

Final thoughts

The high percentage of ADHD identified in the marketing industry highlights the importance of recognising and embracing the unique strengths that individuals with ADHD bring to the table.

As demonstrated by the success of celebrities and business leaders with ADHD, the condition can be an asset in the fast-paced and creative world of marketing. 

By fostering an inclusive and understanding work environment, businesses can harness the potential of professionals with ADHD and contribute to their continued success in the marketing industry.