The top of the year is always a great time of reflection. As our team has been excitedly preparing for our first webinar of 2017, I’ve been able to reflect on the many changes I’ve seen happen internally and externally in the digital marketing landscape, especially those related to shifting roles and breadth of knowledge. Nearly twenty years ago, when I was first getting started, most marketers knew the four Ps (price, product, promotion and place). We used to be able to come up with ideas, execute in a couple of channels, pop a bottle, and celebrate success. Tech folks tended to develop software based on requirements developed by project managers and engineers, and congratulated themselves when a project was fully tested, and delivered on time and under budget (with few, if any, bugs).
Then came the big disruption of the digital age. And the lines between marketing and technology became blurred.
The marriage of marketing and technology increasingly requires shared responsibilities and deeper knowledge of both areas. Marketers must be much more versed in technology and how it exists to provide support in reaching distracted and elusive customers. Developers must understand fundamental marketing concepts and be open to approaching enhancements based on how a new feature would solve real-life marketing challenges. If either of these stakeholders say “that’s not my job”, and refuses to learn, the brand’s ability to provide a consistent, customer-centric experience will suffer.
Ultimately, no matter how many systems are in place, human beings—from your internal team to your audience—guide programs. That being said, personal development—from classes to reading books and blogs to networking—is critical and something you MUST make time for, whether you’re the email marketing manager or the director of product development.
But let’s be real: in the busyness of daily life, you probably can’t get away from your desk for lunch most days. However, even if you have to slot time on your Outlook calendar, it is worth it in order to foster a broader and more accurate view of your program and the industry. This curious and thirsty mindset is also a top predictor of success (assuming you aren’t born into a dynasty). Don’t believe me? The greatest minds of our time, from Warren Buffett to Oprah Winfrey spend a LOT of time on personal growth through a very simple activity…reading[i].
So how can you be a lifelong learner, build your skills and stand out from the crowd professionally? Take your growth by the reins and do the following:
- Attend webinars: There are webinars related to everything from how to give webinars, to specific areas including contextual marketing and testing. Tip: Try not to multi-task during the webinar, to be sure you are fully immersed in the content.
- Attend industry conferences: Get around likeminded people who speak your language. Be inspired and challenged by learning what they do in their own verticals, and repurposing it to fit your audience, as appropriate.
- Blogs, whitepapers: At least bi-weekly, take time to expose yourself to thought leadership. I get a lot of great ideas and industry knowledge from what others talk about—not that I always agree, but that’s the point: surround yourself with other ideas. But remember, you only get to know those ideas by purposefully exposing yourself to them.
- Internal relationship building – My mother’s example at work became my template once I joined corporate America. She got to know everyone on campus at Loyola Marymount, from professors to nuns, staff and students. It gave her a great idea of who did what outside of her wheelhouse, and expanded her overall knowledge. It has served me well to get to know everyone in my organization – in speaking with tech folks, I gain a deeper understanding of how our software works and what the plans are, and vice versa (they get more insight as to how we are actually using our technology, and what would truly be helpful on a daily basis). In your own organization, you’ll learn to navigate personalities and roles when you seek out colleagues who are communicating with your audience across other channels. Ideally, you’ll be able to share resources, gain inspiration, and build efficiencies all around.
Don’t forget – you are an important part of your company’s success and, just like your marketing programs and technology enhancements, you must also be continually developed.
I dug more into personal development and how it fits into your overall campaign strategy in our January webinar, Trends are Dead Ends: Create a clear road to success with our 2017 planning tips. My co-host was Justin Foster, co-Founder of Liveclicker, and we took a deep dive into tried and true strategic and tactical tips to help make you and your marketing programs successful in the coming year. Our webinar definitely steered away from trends and towards the basics, and being a lifelong learner is a basic for success. If you didn’t get a chance to catch it, you can view it here!
[i] Observer article, “Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah Winfrey All Use the 5-Hour Rule” by Michael Simmons