You’re in the game. But are you giving it your all? Can you, if you’re not up to speed on all there is to know? And let’s face it, there’s too much to know. So you need to find a strategy to stay current.
Back in the 80’s, you could read a book and stay current. Marketing didn’t change much, and it was all pretty straightforward. But today’s marketer needs to be on top of all things digital, and the digital world changes every minute of every day.
This article from Mark Schaefer outlines the fear of becoming obsolete and what marketers are doing to keep ahead of the curve. It’s a quick read, and there’s lots of good advice, all of which dovetails with the thoughts below.
Platforms, algorithms, apps, martec options, advertising options all change on a regular basis. If you want to deliver the best solutions and deliver best-in-class results, you need to keep current and get yourself some online learning. While this can be a full time job, there are ways to fit it into your day job, or at least squeeze it into your daily life. But you need a plan, with a strategy and tactics for learning, no different than delivering a business plan.
Your learning plan has 4 components: why, what, how and when.
Why is your objective – generally it’s to remain current in order to deliver the best outcome for the company you’re working for.
What refers to what you’re focusing on – social media, content marketing, specific areas like Facebook or Twitter advertising, etc.
How you will gain the knowledge you’re after – what format/s will you choose.
When is all about finding the time during your busy work week or after hours.
Long gone are the days of creating a marketing deck that captured your plans for the coming year. Digital plans need to be revisited quarterly – even monthly.
If any of the following sound like you or your team, it’s time to put your learning plan in motion:
- You like the apps/platforms you’re using and haven’t looked at others in over a year.
- It’s overwhelming to think about looking at what else is out there.
- Staying on top of trends, technologies, algorithms, capabilities, apps, is a full time job – you think you’re better off keeping your head down and not paying attention.
- You’ve been executing social media and digital marketing plans in the exact same way for more than 3 months.
- You created a plan at the beginning of the year, and 6 months later you’re still working with the exact same plan.
If you can identify with the above, here’s what you may be missing out on:
- Delivering optimal results because you’re not up to date. You’re probably getting inferior results for your efforts, driving up your costs to get the same results, or negatively impacting your results if your budget hasn’t grown.
- The newest or emerging platforms, like Periscope or Blab. New platforms offer ways to broaden the reach of your message. If you’re unaware of them, you’ll begin to lose your competitive edge.
- The latest martec that could help propel your efforts forward.
- Measuring success in an effective way, ignoring the signs that your hard work isn’t paying off the way it used to.
Here’s 9 ways HOW you can stay in the game, with little impact to your day
- Listen to podcasts. If you’re not already doing this, you can get a ton of learning about new technologies, trends, platforms, apps, and much more from listening to a couple of podcasts.
- Take online courses. There are tons of great online sources for courses and seminars, both free and paid. Most are self-learned, so you can do them on your own time, on the bus, or other quiet moments during the day or weekend.
- Participate in webinars. You may be offering your own webinars to attract business. Why not listen in on someone else’s?
- Jump on Blab.im– if you’re not up to speed on Blab, jump in, again for your own business, and for your learning pleasure. You can join in on these easily, anytime during the day. Just see what’s “playing” when you’re at your desk taking a break.
- Subscribe to email newsletters – sign up for a few daily or weekly newsletters from informed sources; they’ll supply an endless stream of great information for you. Find the leaders in the places you participate and be sure to sign up to see their stuff. Caution – be careful how many you sign up for as your in-box will fill up quickly. Start with a few so you don’t get overwhelmed. That way you’ll be more likely to read the few you get.
- Create your own Paper.li – a great app for sharing content, you can also use this to curate articles from people you follow and trust. Then send it to yourself on a regular basis and voila, you’ve created your own source of intel. Better still, share it with your team so you’re all on the same page. Looking for a shortcut, subscribe to my Paper for all the news on social media, content marketing, search, digital marketing, mobile and e-commerce.
- GetPocket.com – use this app to keep track of online sources for future reading, courses and insights. Much better than using the bookmark function on your browser, Pocket can be accessed from any device, and uses tags to easily find the web pages you’ve saved.
- SlideShare – there’s a ton of content available on SlideShare, all for the taking. Create an account if you don’t have one, and start searching.
- Hit the conference There are numerous conferences held around the world for social media, content marketing and all things digital marketing. If you have the time, you should consider getting to one or two conferences during the year. Yes, this one will impact your day job, but who can’t use a few days out of the office?
Here’s WHEN you can find the time
If you can’t figure out how to change your daily routine (you eat lunch with friends, you listen to music at the gym, for example), consider blocking off 2 hours a week in your calendar to stay current. Use the time at your desk or private meeting room to listen to podcasts, read articles or take an online course. Make it a recurring appointment (give it a real name so others won’t book meetings over it) and try your best to make it every week.
Podcasts are great because the format allows for more flexible learning options: at the gym, in the car, while making dinner, during a bike ride or walk, over lunch, or when you’re bored at your desk. Be sure to have a note-book handy (although most provide show notes on their sites).
17 great online learning resources to get you started
There are many sources of content available today, too many to get to all of them. Be picky about how you spend your time. Not getting enough value for what you’re after? Unsubscribe and move on. Here are a few resources in each category to get you going.
You’ll quickly be overwhelmed with the number of podcasts out there if you haven’t been engaging in this content lately. Below are a few I recommend. Without exception, every podcast I’ve listened to has been valuable. There are many more options, so once you get started, keep exploring. In fact, listening to these will encourage you to try others, as recommended by the hosts and guests themselves.
Social Media Examiner
Michael Stelzner hosts, and always has informative guests on the show, bringing social media to life.
PNR: This Old Marketing
Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose host this podcast that dives into the latest new and trends in content marketing.
Agents of Change
Rich Brooks hosts and showcases leaders in social media – always informative and interesting.
The three recommended podcasters also produce newsletters that are very informative – for the most part, the newsletters point to pages on the site’s blog. As a starting point, sign up for those. Here are a few others to consider.
Webinars are available on an ongoing basis. The best way to jump in is to watch the newsletters for details on upcoming webinars that are of interest, then register and set aside the time.
E-Books / Tip sheets / Infographics
As you listen to podcasts, read through newsletters, and visit websites, you’ll come across numerous downloadables that can help get you up to speed on social media and content marketing. Here are a couple of resources to get you started.
Or visit experts in specific fields – they all have content available to help you.
Online education falls into a couple of camps. For the most part, you’ll find videos (potentially re-purposed webinars or seminars) and you’ll also find actual courses from online “universities”. Both are valuable resources. The amount of time you are able to make available will largely dictate which format you leverage.
Online learning is really recommended for those who are new to digital marketing. For the most part, they comprise of 101-type courses, some more in-depth than others. If you’re already deep in the weeds in the digital marketing world, your time may be better spent with the other resources aimed at keeping you as current as possible.
For those just getting started, or have been at it for a short time, you should check out some of these and grab yourself an online education.
QuickSprout University is more tactical in nature, offering a range of videos aimed at getting you skilled-up on very specific subjects. Much like webinars and e-books on given subjects, these are great for learning about specific marketing tactics.
Content Marketing University from The Content Marketing Institute – these guys are the experts in Content Marketing, so if that’s your interest, you should start here. Of course, you get what you pay for, and in this case, it’s $995. But you’re learning from the experts, those who live and breath content marketing every day.
Lynda.com is owned by LinkedIn and it’s currently being integrated into the LinkedIn community. Largely video based, creating and saving videos to playlists is a handy feature which enables you to watch on your own time.
Hubspot provides a great way to get an introduction to in-bound marketing. This free course is offered by Hubspot (yes, it’s a marketing tool, as are many of these), and provides a certification, which means there’s an exam to pass at the end of the course.
Buffer offers a 7-day program – the 101 of social media and really just skims the surface. If that’s all you need, have a look.
Udemy is the well known online academy offering courses in a wide range of subjects. While it isn’t free, there are low cost courses: for example, a 4-hour course (including materials and case studies) on social media is $30.
Coursera is another learning academy, with classes sourced from various institutions, so you’re learning from real educators. And as such, there’s a pretty price to pay for these. For example, a course from Northwestern College on social media marketing is $567, for the complete set of classes.
Hootsuite offers a six module free course. It’s another great introduction to the basics.
Digital Commerce Institute: A great starting point from the folks at Copyblogger, this program is loaded with seminars, webinars, and a wide range or learning materials. IT’s $400 for an annual membership packed with learning.
What: Let’s say you’re interested in improving your Facebook advertising ROI. You’ve created your business page, and have done a little advertising. But you know the rules of the game have been changing, you’re just not up to speed on how to take advantage of all the changes. To get up to speed, you need a plan:
Why: To drive greater ROI from the budget spent on Facebook.
How: Listen to podcasts, subscribe to newsletters, take a quick course, download an e-book or cheat sheet.
When: Tuesdays at 1:00pm, set aside 1 hour a week; put it in your calendar. Subscribe and listen to podcasts in the gym, twice weekly.
Tactics: Find the experts, subscribe to the appropriate materials.
Here’s some help with this: Mari Smith and Rick Mulready are both Facebook experts. Mari has a wealth of information on her site, some downloads, courses you can take, or you can find her at various conferences. Rick has a terrific podcast, and some great learning tools on his site.
If you haven’t thought about keeping up with the latest in digital marketing, there’s no time like the present to get started. If not, you’re selling yourself short and your results will begin to suffer, if they’re not already.
There are numerous ways to get at this, and there’s a variety of tactics you can employ to squeeze the learning into your daily life. Give it a shot – you’ll be amazed with what is going on out there, and how much you can learn from the wide variety of great resources available to you.