Life-long learners make the best Internet marketers

When you’re looking for a consultant, you want someone who knows their stuff, right? Well, usually, but in Internet marketing, the problem is that the “stuff” keeps changing. Instead, you might want to find an Internet marketer who is honest about clear areas of expertise and knows who else can help–or they are willing to learn on the job. And, you need to be willing to learn on the job, too. All Internet marketers and consultants need to be life-long learners, or they won’t succeed.

A mathematics lecture, apparently about linear...

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At one point in my rather scattered personal work history I was a teacher. I taught 7th grade Language Arts and Social Studies. It was during that time that I gained a level of respect for GREAT teachers that I simply didn’t have before. The job is simply one of the hardest on the planet and for those teachers who can actually take the summer off (which is the much used but little researched notion that makes people think teaching is a cushy job) they deserve that time just to recharge their batteries. Being in the internet marketing field is like being on a permanent vacation compared to be a school teacher.
The most interesting thing I learned about the great teachers was what actually made them that way. It wasn’t that they knew how to keep kids on task or that they were well liked by their students (although there is great value in both skills for sure). What made a teacher the best is their love of learning themselves. They never stopped studying and absorbing the latest research on teaching methodology. They never stopped experimenting and pushing the teaching envelope. They even would do things like challenging puzzles to keep themselves mentally sharp. You could tell the ones who had their lesson plans etched in stone for decades and barely deviated from the script. Some kids learned something in those classes I am sure but it was a limited rate of success for sure. It was the teachers who had an unquenchable thirst for learning themselves that impacted the lives of others.
I believe that the same concept of being a life-long learner breeding success is true for most any profession but internet marketing is one area where it may be even more critical. For instance, with teachers there were usually some new techniques and findings that would be introduced into the profession annually with some being insignificant and others changing the face of teaching for the foreseeable future. With Internet marketing the pace of this type of discovery and innovation happens on a monthly, weekly and even daily pace.
Internet marketers who have not studied their profession and the innovation in it are easy to pick out and they look real ….. well, pathetic. Harsh word I suppose but it’s just the truth. The trouble is that in many cases even the most antiquated Internet marketer might have knowledge that appears to light years ahead of many small and medium business owners / marketers. This can lead to the disappointment that is often voiced with the Internet marketing industry for predatory practices and failure to deliver on promises.
As Internet marketers it is imperative that we learn something new on a daily basis regarding SEO or PPC or social media. We need to be involved in the actual practice of being on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter before we go off spouting the praises of these for everyone else. In fact, one of the ways we can show how “brilliant” we are is by actually admitting what we are NOT an expert in something!
You might be saying, “Wait, Frank, are you suggesting that as a business person I actually tell people that I don’t do something? Isn’t that throwing away opportunity? I can’t afford to let anything go at this point. I’ll learn it as I go.” Yes, I am suggesting that. In fact, I think we as an industry should demand it. If you don’t do something well (admittedly paid search is my real weak spot, personally) then stop saying that you do it. Go out and find a partner and resell their expertise. It’s so much better for you, your client and the industry than just saying that you are all things to all people. In fact, if you have gone out and found a great partner that complements your offerings, that is evidence of being a true learner. I would say it’s evidence of real business acumen.
I would also venture to say that out of 100 internet marketers maybe 5 out of the 100 can actually claim to be all things to all people. For those of you looking for these folks I say, “Good luck.” Most of them are working on their own projects and would be most likely unaffordable as a consultant.
Does that mean that the remaining 95 Internet marketers are dimwits? Not even close. What you need to find though are the ones that know their limitations, are life-long learners, and care about your business. When they don’t know something about a particular area of need, they know someone who can fulfill it. They’re out there. Trust me.
How do you define being a great Internet marketer? Be a teacher and help us all learn by leaving your comments.

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