We’ve all gotten the hang of the back-to-school routine by now. Lesson plans, homework and please-God-not-another-after-school activity to keep track of. While we help the kids get back into their learning groove, we’re still pressed to keep up with the LIGHTSPEED (yeah, we said it) pace of business and change in our professional lives.
Sure, coffee, wine and/or Guinness can help a modern marketer out. But when it comes to staying on top of the latest trends in marketing, communications, events and creative design, no one loves teach-me-to-learn moments more than Team Lightspeed.
Now it’s our turn to show and tell some ways we’ve found to go to the head of the class. Even some free training offerings for the budget-conscious (we’re right there with you).
Follow experts and influencers to stay classy and trendy
You use your experience to make daily decisions and crush project deliverables. But times change, technologies leap-frog and new trends emerge.
Since you don’t know what you don’t know, follow topic-specific experts who do.
Instead of spending mindless time scrolling through social media, make clicking the follow button count. Soak all up in some new, useful knowledge while you scroll, and choose who you follow wisely.
Team Lightspeed recommends:
- The experts at Gartner for Marketers, who cut across every industry and do the research so you don’t have to. Count on them for insights on the latest and emerging trends in marketing, technologies and customer experience.
- 50 Influential Women in Content Marketing, as listed by TopRank Marketing. All 50 have presented at Content Marketing World within the past three years, including MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley. She snagged the award for “Most Engaging Influencer” among men and women combined.
- Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures. He’s the guy who sets the class curve for content marketing knowledge and wrote two books on the topic: Accelerate and Content Marketing Works. Arnie and his Vertical Measures team have embraced the Hub and Spoke model of content marketing, which we love: produce a main piece of content that becomes your hub, and create many related spokes that drive traffic to that focal piece for at least 2-3 months.
Keep your skills and strategies current with lifelong training
Don’t rest on your laurels or on your old skills. Lifelong learning on top of your day job might sound tiring, but obsolescence is a real drag.
In Marketing Tech’s How to Keep Up With the Constantly Changing World of Marketing Technology: A Guide, E2M Co-founder Pratik Dholakiya says:
Technology is changing marketing at such a speed that existing strategies can become obsolete in the blink of an eye. That’s why it is important to keep your skills current. …Missing out (on) even the smallest opportunity to ride an upcoming trend can set your company back for months.”
Old tried-and-true SEO techniques that drove traffic to your website in the past now seem dated and perhaps even a bit shady in hindsight.
In the show-us-something-new world of event planning, a crowd-pleasing practice that killed last year might draw crickets at your next event.
Change-up your bag of tricks. Not just to shine in your current job, but also to make you a hot commodity for future job opportunities.
Not sure where to focus? HubSpot has called out 5 Essential Skills Marketers Need to Succeed This Year, based on a 2017 TEKsystems poll of over 250 senior marketing executives.
Digital advertising tops the list, followed by social marketing, website design, content development and mobile marketing.
Mix it up with a combination of online and in-person training
Learn current best practices in just a matter of clicks:
- Our Team Lightspeed members attend Vertical Measures webinars, which cover the latest in content marketing,social media, SEO and pay-per-click advertising, among other topics.
- MarketingProfs University offers quick-study courses from 60-90 minutes in length, free to PRO members or available to purchase. They offer free seminars on select topics, as well as free virtual conferences that dive into subjects such as content marketing and marketing writing.
- The next time you’re scrolling through your LinkedIn feed, hop over to LinkedIn Learning, search for “marketing” and you’ll find more that 2,000 results for courses, videos and learning paths. Get specific and search for “social media marketing” or even “Instagram for business.” The platform offers a free one-month trial.
- Many universities offer free massive open online courses (MOOCs), typically 4-6 week courses that use videos, quizzes and discussion forums to add another dimension to your career development. Northwestern, for example, has partnered with online learning platform Coursera to provide free online courses in three areas: Social Media Marketing, Content Strategy and Organizational Leadership.
Maybe in-person training is more your thing, and we get that. Team Lightspeed members from San Francisco, Chicago and the far reaches of North Carolina’s Triangle area converge in Raleigh each year for the Internet Summit.
Branded as the definitive digital marketing gathering, the conference keeps us up with current trends and sparks ideas for creating new ones. Bonus: We get to raise a glass with all our teammates. Priceless.
Be that guy who joins one or more professional organizations
Members of professional organizations gain access to conferences where the influencers you follow on social media attend and speak. In real life!
You also can join workshops and webinars throughout the year, plus receive publications to keep current on industry trends.
Memberships look good on your resume and LinkedIn profile. But don’t just join – actively participate. Get everything you can out of your membership.
The time you spend networking, volunteering and developing your skills will make the membership fee worth it.
Share your brilliance, boost your memory
Don’t want to risk losing all that newly gained knowledge in your overloaded, multitasking brain? The answer is something you learned in kindergarten: share with others.
Sharing your insights to teach someone else helps you remember what you’ve learned. Scientists call it the protégé effect.
We call it being super nice and helpful. Here’s how:
- Team Lightspeed members keep sharp by sharing our Lightspeed Wisdom with others.
- Join an advisory board, where you can share best practices with your peers.
- Presenting at seminars, professional meetings or even team meetings are all opportunities to share what you’ve learned.
- If you dread the idea of public speaking, join millions of other introverts on social media to share your knowledge and insights online.
Back in the polyester glory days of 1970, Future Shock author and futurist Alvin Toffler predicted the essential need for lifelong learning, saying:
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
What other ways do you make back-to-school a year-long practice?
For more about the latest marketing and communications trends, read Our Thoughts. We like to share, and it helps us remember.