Recently, one of our Young Rebels asked for my recommendations for classes she could take to learn more about marketing.
First of all, props to you, Andrea, for your curiosity and for taking the initiative to ask. Those will serve you well at Rebel and in life. Big up yourself!
Any guesses about my response to her? Well, you might guess that my answer was probably a little more complex than she had hoped.
First, I cautioned that traditional marketing education probably wasn’t the best use of her time and money. She expected that from me. I did mention a couple of my friends who teach at UCLA Extension.
But mostly I recommended that she turn the world into her classroom:
Find people at similar stages in their careers and build her network of friends that she can compare notes with, trade ideas and create a support system. In my opinion, this is the most important thing someone can do to build a successful career in any industry.
After that, read the trades. They’re far from great, but they at least provide a baseline of knowledge about what’s happening in our business and they key players she should be watching.
Next, study our our work for clients. What challenges do they face, and what solutions do we recommend? What works and what doesn’t? She can look beyond the projects she’s directly involved with and gain a broader understanding of the landscape real-time. She’ll find a lot more detail and context in our activities than she can get from reading third-party case studies, which tend to be overly optimistic and gloss over all of the pitfalls that plague marketers and agencies.
Last, read lots of books that offer new ideas and perspectives. Don’t accept everything you read, but constantly challenge your own beliefs and conventional wisdom. To get a little help with this, I went to my Facebook friends and asked for recommendations for her. The best suggestions:
Permission Marketing, Seth Godin
Grow, Jim Stengel
Simplicity Marketing, Steven Cristol
Guerrilla Marketing, J. Conrad Levinson
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
Positioning, Al Ries and Jack Trout
Good to Great, Jim Collins
To start, I gave Andrea a copy of Permission Marketing, because I think it sets the stage to the unique approach we take at Rebel. We are by no means permission marketers in exactly the way that Seth intended, but his theories have guided a lot of what we do, and the book signaled a fundamental shift away from the status quo, which has proven over and over not to work. I think that’s the right mindset to get her started.
What other books, classes, or ideas would you recommend to help a young marketer, or an old one, continue down the right path? Leave your answers in the comments.