What’s your wake-up routine? Once (a long time ago) I would get up, retrieve the newspaper from the front porch (if, by some chance, it had actually landed there instead of on the roof or in the bushes) and flip through it while drinking my morning coffee. I hear tell of some folks who still do this (back on the farm), but for me, it’s almost quaint to think about. Is there anyone out there still doing that?
Because now, like a lot of people, I get up, look at my smartphone while I’m still in bed, then open up my laptop while I eat breakfast. I get caught up on the latest news as well as industry blogs as well as any activity on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I can’t even remember what it was like reading yesterday’s news in a non-interactive, ink-smudged format. What a difference a few years makes.
Back in those wayback days of yore, I was working at a marketing agency, and I struggle to remember how I was able to keep up with current trends. (Sure, we had the internet, but it was slow. And we had to walk uphill both ways to work. Now, get off of my lawn, you kids!)
I do recall that the arrival of that thick, glossy copy of Communication Arts magazine was a big deal, as was the regular appearance of Advertising Age and AdWeek. Of course, as I said, we had the Internet in those days, so there we were able to access online resources as well. Not as many, of course. Market research firm eMarketer was founded in 1996 and ClickZ has been around since 1997. Both have been great resources for digital marketers across multiple industries over the years. Media Life Magazine has been around since 1999. Many others have come and gone during the dot-com boom and bust.
So Many Words, So Little Time
These days there are so many resources for marketing agencies, it’s difficult to sort through the massive amounts of content geared to advertising agencies and marketers. That’s especially true now that we’re talking about more than just magazines. There are podcasts, blogs, webinars, infographics, white papers, eBooks, videos, and more. Given the proliferation of information, how can we marketers ever find the time to consume content especially when we’re so busy creating it ourselves?
It’s a real problem, because in order to deliver the kind of creativity and vision that gets results, marketers need to keep current with the latest marketing trends and innovations. We have to spot the new hotness and decide whether it’s just popular or actually meaningful. We have to be ready for the next industry shift, be it subtle or transformative.
For agencies, it’s even more critical, because the best creative teams also serve as interpreters for their clients, helping them understand where they need to invest their time and resources in the ways that will serve their clients’ interests. Agencies also need to share their knowledge with clients, and lead by example. This demonstrates not only how well they can perform, but also cements the partnership.
One of my New Year’s resolutions as a marketer was to make time for self-improvement, which includes reading up on industry trends as well as attending more online webinars and events. As part of that campaign, I’ve collected some of my favorite resources and given myself the task of reading them (well, at least some of them) every day.
Here are just a few of the resources I look at on a regular basis.
This research firm (named for the dauntless Sherpa people of Nepal) specializes in tracking marketing trends and best practices. Their stated goal is “To give marketers of the world the stats, inspiration, and instructions to improve their results.” They’re owned by MECLABS, a research and training company that helps businesses optimize their sales and marketing technology and resources. And they’re associated with MarketingExperiments, a great resource for marketing statistics and case studies.
This site has plenty of marketing insights as well as a community of over half a million marketers. Ann Handley, one of the founders of ClickZ, heads up the content for MarketingProfs, and wow, there is a lot of content out there, taking the form of newsletters, templates, guides, courses, seminars, conferences, and research.
This group is the world’s leading independent organization for data-driven marketers. Their vision? “Be the premier trade association for executives who embrace a responsible, customer-centric approach to marketing and fundraising.” In addition to educational resources for marketing professionals, they provide help for consumers when it comes to unwanted marketing – especially mail, catalogs, and online advertising.
The online edition of the venerable magazine is a great place to stay current on advertising trends in digital media. My favorite section to read is AdFreak, a hilarious showcase of the best (and the worst) of advertising, branding, and design.
This organization delivers timely information and insights through their website, email newsletters, eBooks, social media, virtual events, and webcasts. They also have a monthly print edition. If you have an agency, make sure you’re listed in their directory.
Speaking of agencies, here’s a great roundup of blogs for agency professionals from Marketing Agency Insider (another excellent resource). You see what I mean? There’s really no end to the rabbit hole once you start going down it… but at least now you have a place to start.
It’s easy to get distracted while browsing all of these resources. One of the ways I keep myself focused is to use an RSS reader. That way I can subscribe to my favorites and read the content I’m interested in most without having to visit every site every day. (Subscribe to the Marketing Action blog feed here.) Better still, it prevents me from wandering all over the web, because I know if I do that, I’ll end up watching videos of kittens.
Keeping current on the latest trends is just one way marketing agencies can succeed. Want more? This eBook outlines the nine essential strategies that can help give agencies the competitive edge using the power of marketing automation.