Applying a structure makes self-directed learning more effective.

We all learn a lot in our jobs, teaching ourselves new skills every day just by working. At least, that’s true during the first few months in a new role.

However, we’re all subject to the ‘plateau effect’ – the diminishing returns from once effective measures over time. 

This applies at the entry level of the profession, but also after each sideways step or promotion. Once somebody thinks they’ve become a great marketer or manager, they stop learning and don’t improve.

How can you get past the plateau and once again become better at your role? The answer is to set aside time for education and focused practice. Instead of just bulldozing your way through the daily workload, take a step back, look at the way you do things and really assess it.

Marketing is a broader field than ever before – and is expanding as quickly as communications technology – so there’s always plenty to learn that can make you more effective.

A B2B marketer who gains a greater understanding of B2C could learn valuable lessons for their own sphere, or discover a path to their next career move.

A marketer from a more creative background could learn a lot about getting more views on their content with a course on analytics.

And a digital expert could learn a lot about the potential value of traditional methods by looking into telesales.

When you know what to learn, you have to figure out how to learn it. A training course or qualification is often the best approach, but teaching yourself can also raise your knowledge and abilities to new levels. Whichever you choose, consider the following:

  1. Come up with a goal and write it down. This should not be what you want to learn, but what you want to achieve with that new knowledge or skill. For example, if you want to build better relationships with your agencies, working on people management skills will help you to solve this.
  2. Find the right educational resources to help you gain skills to achieve that goal. The resources might be free eBooks and guides on topics from content to Youtube marketinga video, a podcast or instruction from an expert acquaintance.
  3. Set aside specific education hours. If you’re just learning ‘when you get a minute’, it’s all too easy to let it slide. If you allocate regular times for research and practice, you’re more likely to stick with it.
  4. If you’re teaching yourself, go beyond passive reading or watching. Make notes on everything so that you can refer back to it in the future. Although typing up your notes might be tempting, writing by hand has been shown to have significant advantages
  5. Practice your new skill. It’s essential to mastering and maintaining what you have learnedYou might get the chance to do this at work, but if it’s in preparation for a different aspect of your marketing career then it’s good to do this in your own time. If you’re a marketer largely focused on analytics, learning about online marketing best practice is naturally going to feed into everything you do. However, if you’re finding out how to produce a great online video, perhaps you should set up a personal YouTube channel to hone your talent.
Sammy Todd Former Marketing Manager CIM
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