“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
In tech marketing, constant learning is essential. Our space changes so quickly. The tech changes. Marketing tactics that worked well last year become too expensive (or just boring), and there are always new hot channels to test.
To succeed, you have to keep learning. I’ve been in B2B marketing for over a decade, and I learn something new every. single. day.
Here’s how I keep myself sharp, along with my list of “must-reads” for every B2B marketer. This post aims to help junior marketers just starting out, founders who are learning marketing from scratch, and marketing veterans who need a tune-up.
For me, reading is the best way to learn and grow. More on that below. However, I recognize that each person learns differently. So here are the four ways I’ve found effective to (continuously) learn B2B marketing.
For me, learning = reading. Reading = books, blogs, podcasts, webinars, conference talks. In the past three years, I’ve read more than 52 books on my Kindle every year, and a bunch more in hard copies. About half were work-related—on management, startups, marketing, and business. The other half were memoirs, thrillers, and the occasional trashy romance novel. When do I have time? Most of my reading is about forty minutes every night before going to bed. It’s my favorite way to unplug.
My RSS feed has about 30 work-related blogs that I review whenever they publish a new post. When do I have time? This is my “bored phone scrolling time” when I wait in line, etc. No social media for me.
I’m subscribed to about 15 work-related podcasts. I listen to them whenever I walk, fold laundry, or cook. It makes these chores fun.
At the bottom of this post, you’ll find my top blog recommendations.
In our world, reading isn’t optional. Even if you’re not “a reader” like me, following whatever resources you find informative is a must.
2. Talking to people.
Two weeks ago, I talked to a friend who’s VP Marketing at a fast-growing startup in Tel Aviv. We talked shop for half an hour: what’s working, what he’s trying. He told me about a new tool that’s been working for them for automating LinkedIn outreach. I told our team about it, and we’re now testing it for a client.
I’ve been doing these professional catch ups forever, even more so when I was just starting out in marketing. I would meet with other marketing managers and more senior folks, in similar and different career stages and industries. There are things people won’t share in a blog post, but will share in a 1:1 meeting. Not to mention the camaraderie and the opportunity to collaborate (joint webinar anyone?).
You can call it “networking;” you can call it “mentoring.” Whatever you call it, find folks you can talk to every once in a while and compare notes.
3. Watching (and emulating) others do it.
When I took my first B2B marketing role, my writing was terrible. As in, your neighborhood plumber probably does a better job with their flyers. I improved, slowly but surely, by reading, watching, and imitating the terrific writers who worked with me. I was fortunate to be surrounded by a talented and supportive group, and made the most out of it, including humbly accepting feedback and literally copying turns of phrase.
To date, I continue to learn from members of the Blue Seedling team, watching them lead client meetings and deal with difficult personalities and situations—down to adopting the exact phrases they say.
4. Learning by doing.
This is straightforward, and especially effective for tactical tasks. Need to set up a blog post? Shadow someone, have your manager teach you, or try it yourself. DIY and Trial and Error are certainly essential to learning. But they are also the slowest, most time-consuming way to learn.
Lastly, let’s take a step back to a mindset of curiosity and a can-do attitude. Recently, I was asked by a client about prices for podcast advertising. It’s been a long time since I did podcast advertising, so I had no idea how to reply. I asked around a bit (equivalent to “talking to people” above), and didn’t get good answers. So I dove in and did some research on the podcast in question, listened to a couple of episodes, and summarized my findings. Based on my recommendation, they decided to go for it. The client was happy, and I had fun dipping my toes into the world of podcasts.
The bottom line
Most of B2B marketing isn’t rocket science. Common sense, curiosity, and a desire to learn will take you a long way. Treat a question you don’t know the answer to, or an unfamiliar acronym, as an opportunity to learn a new topic, form a passionate opinion, and grow. 🌱
“A growth mindset is a passport to new adventures.” — David and Tom Kelley