Summer is at its halfway point on the calendar. For some, it is at or near its end. This Summer was certainly not the one any of us expected. Where was the fun? Where was the sand? Where were the endless streams of ads and articles pushing us to get our bodies beach-ready?
Instead of bikini workouts, we are hearing about staving off the COVID 15 (or 20 — no judgment here). But as we work on losing those quarantine pounds, let’s work on gaining more skills and knowledge. The best approaches to physical training can be applied to learning or enhancing your abilities.
The unfortunate reality is that the pandemic has been the cause of many job losses, temporary and seemingly permanent. If you are lucky enough to have meaningful employment today, we can see the need to up our knowledge and skills and thereby our value to an organization. If you are one of the not-so-lucky ones, you may have unexpectedly found your resume somewhat lacking as you review job requirements for open positions.
Let’s make a pact. Let’s take the next 60 to 90 days to shape up our minds, sharpen our skills, and learn something new. We can use the season to work …out…our minds as well anything else we need to exercise.
You might know that we’ve embarked on a new direction for our company. We’re not going to stop creating some great marketing. What we ARE doing is focusing on one of our core values: educating and creating great marketers.
So, it is no surprise that we are continually looking for ways to share knowledge and skills. Training and development trends for marketers are at their most interesting points. Cultivating your marketing skillset should hold a permanent position on your list of to-dos. If you are a leader in your organization, you should be ensuring your team members have access to excellent training (along with an appropriate budget).
So, what can you tackle in one season? A lot!
Moreover, how can you fit it into an already full schedule? Like most fitness plans…well, with a plan.
Establish Your Marketing Skill Baseline
Whenever you start a fitness regimen, you record your weight and measurements for the areas you have identified as needing improvement. The same goes for your training. If you have had a recent review, take a look at it once more and see if there were areas that needed improvement. If it has been some time since your last appraisal, ask your supervisor for an interim checkup. Ask your manager if there are areas that should be your focus. Look around at the jobs others are doing, and ask yourself what they have that you do not. What skills you’re missing? Be honest with yourself and identify a skill or two that could use improvement. Then decide which of those skills will get you the furthest to your career goals.
Once you have completed an audit your current skill level and have compared against your goal, you’ve identified your baseline. This measurement will also serve as motivation along the way. No one goes from 1 to 100 instantly. Setting a benchmark allows you to see your progression along the way.
Choose a Marketing Skill To Tackle First
You’ll undoubtedly have a list of things you want to (or should) tackle, but you will want to pick the skill that will help you the most as your first project—plan on addressing the rest of your list later. Trying to do too many things at once only slows you down. Learning and training are not time for multitasking.
A year or so ago, I wanted to learn how to be more proficient in recording and editing so I could self-produce our Drivetime Marketing podcast. While I am no expert, I can now record, edit, and publish my podcast with intros and outs. Now I want to get better at utilizing the information from Google Analytics to grow our presence. I also want to get better at Facebook ads (which I can’t seem to fall in love with, but I will darn it!). Honestly, I have a long list, but I know it will never get done if I do not pick the ONE thing for my focus.
Set an Appointment You Will Keep
I cannot remember how many gym memberships I wasted because I was not “required” to go, but a funny thing happened when I got a trainer. I cannot remember ever missing an appointment with him. The same goes for your skills training. Set a regular day and time for this meeting with yourself. That way, people will see it blocked on our calendar and (hopefully) consider that when organizing meetings. If you have a partner in your training, it will further encourage you to keep your appointment.
When we started developing our Casino Advertising Masterclass, my original intention was to automate it so that our students could work at their own pace. I might still do that with another training. Yet, as we progressed through the pilot program, I found setting these meetings with participants as a schedule of classes and group discussions provided more than I ever thought to our pilots and us as trainers.
Consider Front-loading you Marketing Skills Training
Some fitness plans will tell you to front-load your calories at breakfast so you will not only have a store of energy, but you will also have the day ahead of you to burn off the calories. The point is you want to find the time in the day that will give you the best return. I try to schedule learning opportunities first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh and uncluttered, and BEFORE I check emails. I think this gives me a blank canvas, and I can absorb so much more. I am NOT a morning person, but this has worked for me. However, I find I can’t write as well in the morning. I save that for late in the day. There’s something about having had time to talk to others or read insightful things that give me the spark I need.
When do you learn best? Mornings? Afternoons? Nights?
Play around with the parts of the day to see when you get the most benefit. Consider distractions and the locations you may be in at different times of the day, as well as how well you can concentrate given the time of day.
Choose Where You Will Train
Like the time of day, environments play a huge role in the success of your training efforts. Choose a spot with room for you to spread out but low on distractions. As an example, my office has a beautiful view of the garden. I love seeing the hummingbirds go in for a drink from the flowers, but I cannot study there. I study in a comfy chair in my bedroom, where I am not going to be distracted. You will want to have the ability to adjust lighting and temperature.
Whether it is a home office, the supply closet, Starbucks, a she-shed, or man-cave, find the spot that works for you.
Select the Right Equipment
It seems like a given but have the tools you will need close at hand. If you are a crazy note taker like me, make sure you have a spare pen just in case you run out of ink and that you have a good supply of notebooks. If you are a dry-erase board person like Elissa Plastino, have a large enough board with thick and thin point markers in multiple colors to organize your thoughts. Keep a poster board handy if you like to use Post-it Notes.
A few years ago, I started using Evernote to take notes during my calls. It allowed me to organize my notes by property easily, so I was not searching my entire notebook for specific notes later. I could click on the property and shorten my search. You may like Google Drive, OneNote, Dropbox Paper, or any number of digital filing systems.
Make Wise Diet Training Choices
You heard me. We know extreme diets (all this or none of that) are not the best in the long run. You need to have a balance that is right for you. The same goes for how you learn. There are several training settings from which you can choose. You may do better with a virtual classroom setting where you have access to the teacher and other students. You may be the ultra-responsible one and can stick to a self-paced program.
On the other hand, you may need a workshop or a hands-on environment (shameless plug: Casino Marketing Boot Camp). The point is that there are lots of ways to learn almost every topic you can imagine, but not all of them are a perfect fit for all learners. Try a few different types and figure out which diet – I mean type – you can stick to and be successful.
Change Up Your Routine
Like exercise, no ONE thing will do the trick. I know. I’ve been doing situps all my life and still no six pack! Fitness experts will tell you that you need to mix cardio with strength and a little mindfulness. When you’re trying to learn something new, be great at your job, and your family, you have to learn how to balance them all. With each day, you can add a little more to one thing or the other until you have the balance that is right for you.
Day of Rest
Burnout is real. Even world-class athletes will rest every once in a while. Taking a day of rest allows their muscles to recover and avoid burnout. When you are learning something new, it can be a little overwhelming. Close your books or your laptop. Put your notebook in a drawer, and step away from it. Your unconscious mind will have time to file all the new knowledge properly so that you can access it most efficiently and effectively when you need it again. It will prevent fatigue while improving your performance.
If you are like me, when you start learning something, you want to race to the end so you can know it all. Consider beginner runners just starting their training. Most use a run/walk technique to build their endurance. However, even experienced runners will rely on this methodology because it aids them in increasing their endurance and reducing the risk of injury.
When you start learning something new, this technique might be valuable to you as well. We don’t know what we don’t know until we find ourselves at a roadblock without a way to get around. Consider walking through your new training every once in a while, just to check for understanding. If you discover issues during these slow times, you will have the ability to correct and sprint through the next phases.
Put One Foot in Front of the Other
Learning something new or improving a skill you thought you already had locked down can sometimes be more of a challenge than you realized when you started, but I promise you it will pay off in rewards to you.
What will you choose to learn?
Editor’s Note: This post was initially published in Casino Journal and as a Drivetime Marketing podcast. It has been revamped and updated for comprehensiveness. To hear the original version, click on the audio link below.