Q&A: If UR an old-school marketer, how do you get enough knowledge to catch up?
First of all, if UR are someone who uses “UR,” then you can’t be TOO old school.
Second of all, I should mention that this question was actually a three-parter, the other two parts being: “How much is schooling vs how much is experience?” and, “Where/how would you access each while you hold down a job?”
Thirdly, and this is where I actually try to answer the question, as I said in in my webcast, the two skills that are most critical nowadays are project management and the ability to learn. I’m assuming that if you have been in marketing for a while, you probably already have basic project management skills. It’s very important to remember that these skills are transferable and, frankly, far from going out of fashion.
On the learning front, I do see this as more a question of experience than schooling. The best way to learn is to get in there and play around with the new media. Join online communities. Set-up a Facebook account, a Flickr account, or even a MySpace page. Explore. Experiment. But all the time be thinking, “How could I apply this to the job I’m being asked to do today?”
That last question is the key to your last question. The way you learn about this stuff while trying to hold down a job is by incorporating it gradually into your current job. It might not be entirely within your power to incorporate a product review function on your website or to start a blog, but regularly visiting sites that review products in your industry or leaving comments on relevant blogs is fairly simple. Even more simple, is setting up Google Alerts for terms that matter to you, your product, or your company. It’s a small step, but definitely a good way to start tapping into the potential of the new media.
Beyond this, I would just encourage you to engage with folks who are active in the new world of marketing. A good place to start would be a site like MarketingProfs. They tend to focus on the flash-point where the fundamentals meet the cutting edge and their Daily Fix blog offers you access to a very lively community of intelligent and responsive folks. Read what they write, comment, ask questions – you’ll find that a big part of this education is just showing up.
To put it another way, the key to all this isn’t learning technology X or application Y; the key is getting involved.