Five ways to learn a new skill or technology

Every week, a new study comes out that speaks to the complexity of modern marketing. Today’s marketers are tasked with greater responsibilities across a wider range of disciplines, and an always-on mentality makes it even harder to find time for self-education.

At my last marketing job, my responsibilities included, or I was required to have input on, community management, traditional PR, organic and paid social influencer campaigns, SEO, SEM, mobile and e-mail marketing, analytics, social network advertising and many more I’m already forgetting. And I am sure my job was not unique in this regard.

The Hub’s sister brands, such as PRWeek, routinely discuss how agencies are branching out beyond their core capabilities to grab more market share. And while they often bring in more resources specific to those categories, it’s often up to existing employees to ramp up business to the point where they can hire externally.

So how does one get up to speed during the limited time a marketer has? 

1)   Webinars. Many vendors and indeed media companies (hint: The Hub) host a number of webinars/webcasts/web presentations that take on topics both granular and vast. Carefully searching makes it easy to find the appropriate intro or advanced course, depending on your specific knowledge level for any given topic.

2)   Information trading. Whether within your company or the network you’ve hopefully created in your occupational life, you likely have a skill you can trade to someone for their own expertise on a topic that has suddenly become more important to your job. These mutually beneficial trades don’t even have to be completely marketing- related; witness the beauty of Brazilian teens learning English by speaking to the American elderly.

3)   Make a proposal for better training for your company/agency. It’s likely that your department or organization has a training budget that may be underutilized. Draft an incisive, detailed plan for how you would get the entire department educated on a specific topic. Do the research to ensure costs are in line with reality. And do your best to identify exactly how this will benefit the organization, either through cost savings or revenue increases.

4)   Ride shotgun. If you’re being asked to understand a new technology or discipline, see if anyone else in your organization is currently handling such processes. Ask if you could shadow his or her team to learn first-hand.

5)   Do it yourself! For many of the new marketing technologies out there, you could conceivably create a campaign on a small scale for yourself or someone you know. Maybe one of your friends or family members is trying to get a small condiment business off of the ground. Try an e-mail marketing campaign for them. The best experience comes from real-world situations.

I’m sure there are many more ways to learn marketing on the fly. Let us know in the comments or on social media.

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