Thinking Of Learning Technologies? Start With Your Goals

Plethora of marketing technologies can overwhelm even an experienced marketer. Which of them to follow and what professional path to pursue? No matter what you are doing at your today’s job, you have to think of what you will do tomorrow, in a month and a year.

Again, listings of courses, certifications and training might be useful, but not helpful. Learn Webdesign? Or Social Media? Or Mobile Marketing? Of course, at the bottom of Maslow pyramid you are glad to grasp any opportunity. But it’s not very likely that you have enough resources to learn when you badly need to earn and survive. At a higher level of the pyramid, you still need to think of further direction and (self-) education, and this is where you have to take a break.

Okay, you are smart enough to be able to learn everything. Can you do everything competitively well? Enjoy doing it 40 hours a week? Can you outperform your coworkers in that area? Be sustainably successful?

The marketing technologies are often grouped and listed together, and there might be an illusion that it’s just books in the bookshelf – take one, put it back, grab another.  The problem is the jobs behind these technologies are too diverse; they imply totally different roles and careers. They open doors into companies of different locations, profiles, sizes, cultures and business processes. Just imagine a coder in San-Francisco and an event manager in New York; a mid-size company’s marketing specialist (“Jack of all trades”) and an email manager of a transcontinental giant.  Their jobs, environments, even lifestyles might differ much more than sets of applications installed on their laptops.

A flip side of the problem is that it is not only you, who need to match your values and goals with the ones of your employer. Your company, current or future, is also willing to build a team, fill available spots with the best recourses. Best not only in competencies, but also personal characteristics. You can pretend to be someone else, but do you really want to?

In HBR article “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”  the authors recommend categorizing “marketing roles not by title, but by type: “think” marketers, who apply analytic capabilities to tasks like data mining, media-mix modeling, and ROI optimization; “do” marketers, who develop content and design and lead production; and “feel” marketers, who focus on consumer interaction and engagement in roles from customer service to social media and online communities”. As you see, types include wide ranges of skills but the key differentiator is a primary role of analytical, creative or social skills. Obviously, the jobs require drastically different soft skills and personal traits. You can write “detail-oriented” on your resume, but it would mean totally different for a coder and social strategist.

I don’t think that any other business professional domain would have the same wide range of skills. Just think of finance, IT, logistics, project management, HR – all of them have certain requirements. Only marketing is beyond any limits.

That’s why looking at oneself as a product is not a bad thing. On one side, you have a market with its potential, risks and competitors. On another hand, there is a product with characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. Now we are matching two sides, working as a product marketer, making sure we provide the best configuration, functionality, and package for our very targeted audience.

Thus knowing oneself is not a philosophical question. You need to understand how you get the information and process it, how you learn and interact, where and why you can operate at your best. Similarly, you need to have a deep understanding of your core values and goals, what drives and motivates you, what makes you happy. How can you sell yourself without knowing what you are selling?

Let’s come back to technologies that you want to catch up. Once you identify desired jobs, checking positions’ descriptions might be the first thing to do. Talking to peers, looking into trends and following thought leaders would probably next steps in defining the most popular practices and promising technologies. But no more panicking or trying to get it all – you know what to search and where you want to go.

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