Crash courses on marketing – what I learned

SUMMARY:

Online marketing training is one way to keep your skills sharp – but is it worth the investment? We review a MarketingProf course, while discussing the pros and cons of other options.

test-driveAs a marketer, I know it’s important to be learning about how to perform my work better continually. Much of what I learn I apply in my work when it’s feasible, and I can get buy-in from management.

Like many, I learn a lot by reading articles and whitepapers for free, but I also believe paid training can also be beneficial. Which is why I sign up for I think are in depth courses regularly. What have I learned? Let me give you some highlights.

MarketingProfs content marketing crash course

This course was a crash course – it covered everything you needed to know about doing content marketing at a high-level. Which is why I would place it more in the beginner’s category. Topics such as tone and voice, storytelling, conversions, brand publishing, podcasts, video, writing case studies and more were covered.

I won’t lie – it took me a year to complete this course which is a series of seminars on all things related to content marketing. The course wasn’t hard, but I kind of lost interest in it after awhile. Yes, there were some good things learned, but for me, not enough to hold my interest. However, I paid for this course, and I was determined to finish it before the one year cut off. And I did come away with some good tips and ideas I could use in my work.

A few highlights:

  • Michael Brenner kicked off this course with a session on planning and building a no fail content marketing strategy. And Michael Brenner should know – he’s successful developed program for SAP, NewsCred and now on his own consulting firm. The biggest takeaway, other than documenting your strategy, was mapping the buyer’s journey from the buyer’s perspective.
  • Jennifer Bassett talked about voice and tone guidelines – something I think many companies don’t think enough about. Understanding how visuals align with voice and tone is important, especially since so many websites use those boring stock images of people.
  • Lauren McMenemy took me through storytelling. She said your stories are not your content strategy, but are the big ideas a company represents and the experiences we want to create. Remember, your company is a supporting character – not the star of your stories. That’s where many stories fall down.
  • Brian Stokoe talked about how to write on boring topics. Lots of good points, including getting into your customer’s’ shoes and the power of visuals. But I’m caught on this topic – I don’t really believe any topic is boring – especially not to those you develop content for. If you think the topic is boring, then you shouldn’t be writing content for it.

MarketingProfs recently retired this course and have a new one called High Performance Content Marketing. Some of the instructors are the same, but the topics are all different and aimed at getting deeper into tools and tactics.

I won’t be signing up for that one; I’m a little wary I will get my money’s worth. However, I am in my second year of a MarketingProfs subscription that gives me access to a wealth of ebooks, white papers, seminars and more that I feel is well-worth the money.

Picking the right course

I’m not sure if I’m the only person like this or not, but I’m not a huge proponent of video training. I think it can be good, but it’s often fraught with challenges. The biggest one is the speaker – I’ve listened to far too many courses where the speaker simply isn’t engaging. They speak too slow, or they sound too dry, and it’s really hard to get into a topic when the speaker isn’t making you feel excited about what you are learning. This was true for some of the seminars in the MarketingProfs course, but also in other courses I’ve taken (including many webinars). I just want to fast forward to the good stuff and pretend the speaker doesn’t exist.

I’ve started the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing University, and Robert Rose kicks off the program (I’ll let you know how that turns out). Rose is an engaging speaker. He draws you into the story and makes you want to learn more. Someone else I would listen to over and over – Brian Clark from CopyBlogger. He knows his topics intimately and shares that knowledge in a way that’s very personable and easy to understand. Oh, and so far, he hasn’t used PowerPoint slides with any amount of content, so you do have to listen to him.

How a topic is covered is another challenge. Too much high-level with little specific is a waste of time. I want details; I want downloadable worksheets and checklists. I know that every situation is different, but there is a commonality in the foundation. Telling me that Amex is a great example of content marketing is fine, but if you don’t know the details behind how they built their program and run it, then it’s not useful for me.

Finally length. For me, short and sweet. Hit me with the key points, give me homework and make me do something to put what you’re telling me is the right approach into action so I can see it for myself. Thirty-minute seminars that could realistically be reduced to 10 minutes – you’ve got my attention. And if they are audio-only – so much more so.

Final thoughts

You will have your own learning process. You might like videos and slow speakers who take their time to get their point across, or you may be like me, waving my hand, telling the speaker to get a move on (kind of like I do with my kids when they tell long-winded stories).

It’s important to understand your learning style and look for courses that match it. There is no shortage of courses on content marketing – NewsCred, Hubspot, and many others offer them too, some even free. And I do believe we should all be learning from those who’ve been there and done that – failures and successes. It’s just how you learn that is unique to you. Share your process in the comments

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    1. I agree with your comments on boring. But I find “Documenting your strategy, and mapping the buyer’s journey from the buyer’s perspective.” this is the most exciting part for me, however this is an old strategy that is usually done for any marketing you do not just online. I think the reason why this is so exciting is being able to get it right and the disciplines you use. Summarizing my comment, if you study or go to courses on “mapping the buyers journey” then everything that you do becomes easy. Obviously an Internet study would be far more complex as there are so much more statistics to study.

      1. says:

        I agree mapping the buyer’s journey is exciting – especially when you get it right. But there are only so many courses you can take on how to do it – the fun part (and the hard part) is doing the work.

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