Weekly INsight: Learning Curves
I know you read a lot on a variety of websites and blogs, so here’s a pop quiz: When was the last time you acted on something you learned from what you read? Learning is an input; doing something with what you learned is an output. What’s your output quotient? What’s the shape and direction of your learning curve?
INsight #1 suggests that learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Ben Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I’ll go a step further and say that an investment in “organized knowledge” pays forward toward the best interest. The challenge with learning in the marketing ecosystem is that there is so much to consume. Much of it is contradictory and even more merely rehashes old ideas.
As a case in point, last week I watched a LinkedIn video by a director of marketing and content strategist. He identified “Three Tips for Killer Calls-to-Action.” I was excited to learn something new. Instead, he regurgitated what every direct marketer has known since the 1960s. His tips:
- Use action words like “Call Now.”
- Create a sense of urgency like “Buy Now,” or “Only 6 Left.”
- Use a benefit statement like “For Money Saving Insights.”
INsight #2 suggests that if an author cannot add to our body of knowledge, shut up. This is not easy because the body of knowledge driving every aspect of the business of business is changing every day. And that body of knowledge surrounding the marketing ecosystem is expanding more rapidly than in other business disciplines. Former President Obama once described the White House as “a place that comes at you hard, fast and doesn’t give up.” That sounds like every marketing department I have ever worked with over the last several decades.
Too many business managers are focused on creating capital riches rather than building knowledge. Michael Simmons, writing in “The Mission,” says, “Knowledge is the new money. But, unlike money, when you use knowledge or give it away, you don’t lose it. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s value compounds over time faster than money.”
Every strategist and thought leader will advise you to keep your eyes on the horizon. That is a strategy for doom. The horizon is always moving and following it will never allow your business to be firmly grounded in The Age of NOW! Until you master NOW! you cannot be prepared for the future. This is where the art of learning and the importance of understanding the learning curve is so important. Alvin Toffler said it best: The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
INsight #3 is that the marketing team should have the primary responsibility to lead the quest for new knowledge in how to grow the business. Marketing should move the organization forward not only gathering new information but helping all departments integrate it into new thought leadership and new actionable directions. When I joined Infinity Direct as the Executive Strategist, we were all a little fuzzy on how that role would develop and, honestly, there is still some fuzz around the edges. But there is new clarity every day. One of my roles is to help the team improve their learning curves and in so doing better define how we adapt to the ever-transforming marketplace.
Climbing the learning curve requires consistent engagement with all aspects of the marketing ecosystem. I offer these guidelines:
- Take nothing at face value; do your homework.
- Understand the art of connecting in this hyper-sensitive and hyper-competitive marketplace. Today, six seconds is all the time executives take before they decide whether a new sales rep, a new app or a new platform is worth spending their time with.
- Keep asking questions and probing.
- Do more than learn. Expand and act.
- Start with general trends and then get micro, but not too micro.
- Pick your sources carefully.
Growth comes from knowledge, and knowledge comes from growth. Before you dismiss this idea, please consider my final INsight that intellectual capital will lead to financial capital.
Bart Foreman – Executive Strategist @ Infinity Direct
Turning old ideas into new thought leadership
Speaking of learning, please take a few minutes to read a wonderful eBook discussing “Digital Transformation & The Evolving Smarketer” The author, Jenny Lassi, is one of my Infinity Direct colleagues responsible for our marketing and digital strategy initiatives. She wears those dual hats very well.