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Why are you learning more about digital marketing?

No, I am not here to announce that digital marketing is dead. In fact, it’s just a baby. What I am really asking is very simple: Why are you learning more about digital marketing? What is your specific reason? The reason that I ask that is I am concerned that too many of us are learning more out of reflex. We don’t understand something and that makes us feel uncomfortable and so we think we need to learn more. Maybe you do, but maybe you need to think differently.

Now, understand, I am not denigrating learning. Not at all. I teach more classes on digital marketing than I can keep track of. I work at several different universities and I do even more corporate training. All of that work is to help people learn.

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(Photo credit: dSeneste.dk)

I blog (you might have known that). I write books. All to educate.

So, no, I am not against learning, but I am against learning marketing just for its own sake. You see, marketing isn’t like philosophy or literature. We’re not enhancing our culture. We’re out for filthy lucre. Marketing needs to be learned only by marketers. Marketers just need to make money.

So, when you are learning more about digital marketing, I assume it is because you are trying to make more money. And, shocking as it may be, learning more does not make any more money. So, congratulations that you are so much smarter now. Nice going that you know more about your customer–and about digital marketing. But in order for that knowledge to matter, you have to actually do something.

That’s the catch.

Reading books, surfing the web, even going to classes or training sessions is actually the easy part. Trying things is what takes some bravery. Because usually it doesn’t work. Not because you are dumb. Not because you don’t know enough about digital marketing. But because most things usually don’t work, whether you are trying them or someone else is.

But it is the only way that you learn what your customers really want. It’s easy to sit back and say that you just need to learn more and then you will be ready to try it. Wrong. You need to try it so you can learn more.

Again, I am not against any of this education stuff–I wouldn’t do it (and I certainly couldn’t charge for it) if I didn’t think that it is worthwhile. But it ain’t enough.

Promise yourself to stop learning for the sake of learning. Promise yourself that you won’t keep learning just because you think it will finally make you comfortable enough to try something. Comfort is so 20th century.

Marketing is changing faster than ever before and we will be able to say that every year from now on and still be right. It is never going to be comfortable again if you think you need to know enough. Because no one ever knows enough. You need to get comfortable with trying things, with being wrong, and with trying again.

Learning can help you make a better guess at what to try. And that is the only good reason to be learning more digital marketing.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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