Adobe once famously said, “Marketing has accelerated as fast in the last five years than it has in the last fifty”.
I would say the same is true about our knowledge and empirical understanding of marketing and how it works.
New knowledge, new skills
In a recent podcast with the stellar creator and founder, Dan Knowlton, he revealed he spent three years studying for a degree in the discipline and gained little from the endeavour. However, since then he has picked up a range of skills through his own constant and consistent learning practises.
I would hedge a guess that his sub-optimal University experience was partly because what we knew about the growth drivers in the industry back then was somewhat limited. But today, Pandora’s box about the art and science of marketing has been flung wide open and continues to gain momentum, daily.
Keeping up, brushing up and staying current is your competitive advantage in the industry. Also, demonstrating a learning and growth mindset is critical to advance your career.
Sharry Crammond, Marketing Director at M&S, shares her perspective.
“So many of us learn at school, college or university, but then we stop learning.
To get to the top of your game and to remain at the top of your game, you always need to be learning.”
The sad reality is that I have encountered many marketers who feel that not investing in their learning is a badge of honour. Yet, go into any other professional arena, from athletics to law and name me anyone who is top of their game purely because they ‘learnt on the job’?
Raj Kumar, Interim CMO of Silicon Valley, echoes this view;
“Pace of change in every discipline is quick from medical science and engineering to psychology.
Marketing isn’t immune; the Society we live in, the Technology we use, and the Businesses we work in are all changing.
We must too.”
Let’s hear from other industry experts about why studying marketing as a reasoned marketer is crucial.
Changing environments require changing minds
Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, SAPMENA CMO for L’Oreal says;
“Marketing is both art and science and although the fundamentals are still relevant, the world around us is changing at an increasing pace.
Marketers learning must always be on.”
It relates to a perspective from Jaideep Prabhu, Professor of Marketing, Cambridge Judge Business School;
“Marketing is key to business success, but the field constantly evolves. Keeping up with customers means constantly being able to read market changes, innovate with new solutions, and communicate these offerings persuasively.
Given the pace of technical and social change, updating your marketing skills constantly is necessary to stay relevant.”
So we must be able to apply and embed all this thinking into a more expansive and constantly shifting landscape. A marketer’s job is to create, craft, curate and contextualise marketing strategies and tactics, which takes learning, experience and continued practice.
Career advancement and new skills
One of the primary reasons to study marketing is to demonstrate skills and qualifications that can help you achieve that next promotion or role.
Organisations recognise the fluid nature of our times and seek people with curiosity and transferable skill sets. Continued learning is critical to this process, especially in different marketing specialisms.
Mark Evans, the Chairman of the School of Marketing and ex-MD of Marketing at Direct Line Group, suggests that without learning, you’re going backwards;
“Marketers must constantly upskill to stay current with rapidly changing consumer behaviour, technological advancements, increasing competition and industry standards. If you are standing still in reality, you are running backwards and will struggle for meaningful career growth.”
Sharry Crammond says, “To be better than you are now and to have more than you have now…you have to do more than you do now, and perhaps do it differently. Learning from others in relevant industries is a brilliant step in the right direction. What’s got you here (where you are now) won’t get you there (where you want to be). Learning is the difference. And especially relevant learning where you can take action.
The laws of incremental learning
The law of marginal and incremental gains also applies to the learning world. So if you move the needle 1% each day, a while later, you are on a different track. It’s a philosophy that Jess Myers, Chief Marketing Officer at The Very Group adopts;
“Change is the only constant, which means balancing the art and science of marketing is an always-on learning game for our modern-day marketers.
In practice, that means continuous study and mastering skills with practical application. Best-in-class marketers are highly skilled as customer ambassadors and commercial growth engines.
They must constantly adapt to change, sincerely undertake their business, be curious, obsess over their customers, understand the latest trends, keep abreast of digital transformation and apply the best practice marketing fundamentals.
Constant studying and keeping this as a core of our daily (yes, daily!) routine is crucial to your success.”
Business growth and customer impact
Ben Rhodes, Brand Director of Phoenix Group, says;
“Now more than ever is the time to sharpen your skills and knowledge.
Downturns and slow-growth economies can be brutal environments for marketers to operate in.
But, no matter how experienced you are, marketing is such a broad area that there will always be best practices to study and learn from.”
One aspect is a need for what Consultant Luke Besant calls “Capital-Efficient Growth”. He terms, capital-efficient growth as “adopting high ROI strategies, typically bound by a set budget to not rely on external funding for marketing activities but rather create efficiencies within an existing budget.”
He continues to say, “In the ever-changing marketing landscape, marketing professionals must stay adaptable. By merging time-tested strategies with cutting-edge technologies, we can provide clients and employers with the most valuable offering: capital-efficient growth.”
Developing a yardstick on societal consciousness
Rahul Welde, ex-SVP of Digital Transformation at Unilever, calls for us to learn how to generate more significant social impact through a multi-stakeholder lens.
“Learning enables us to build our own point of view, as well to appreciate others. When done in a collaborative environment, it provides a greater sense of human understanding, building empathy and trust beyond cold data and facts.
The most proactive and successful people I have come across are those who are constantly improving their own knowledge. They do things differently and are open minded, more collaborative. Investing in continuous learning is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.”
Personal and professional fulfilment
Returning to one of the most well-known business frameworks, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Both self-esteem and self-actualisation are achieved through personal development gained through learning.
There is no greater fulfilment than the love of learning new skills and applying them in a productive way, achieving a positive result for yourself and those around you.
Not to mention, the huge social capital and networking opportunities that learning new skills bring.
Sweat the big and little things
I love this quote from Sharry Crammond about learning happens at both the macro and the micro;
“Please keep an open mind to learning big and small things because they all count. (Anyone who thinks the little things don’t matter should try sleeping in the same room as a mosquito).
In my experience, there is no great success without outstanding commitment – so commit to your learning and then commit to taking action.
If you look at people with proven, lasting success, you’ll likely find that they are not always the smartest. Still, they usually have an unshakable resolve and commitment to learn and implement what they know.”
So we can see the many benefits of continuing to study marketing for a lifetime.
In the words of Ann Constantine, ex-Head of Marketing Effectiveness and Capability at Direct Line Group,
“You are never done learning even if you think you are as the world evolves, and if you don’t seek out new learnings, you will be left behind”.