If You Think Training Is Expensive, Try Ignorance

-Anonymous Training Organisation

To research this post, I've recently been hanging out on various forums/ online discussions about (Digital) Marketing Training and Education. There is much lively debate about the merits of formal qualifications versus professional short courses and 'on-the-job training' (famously favoured by employers who don't want to fund professional input!). Then there's the old dilemma: external 'public' courses or bespoke 'in-company' training? From a trainee's viewpoint: maybe your current (or your next) employer won't believe you really know your stuff without a suitable piece of paper from an appropriate Professional Institution/ Trade Body to wave in their faces? Meanwhile enlightened forward-thinking employers naturally want to develop and motivate their best people, and (in the nicest possible way) get a bit more out of them. Every current management group has a responsibility to plan for succession, to ensure the long-term success of the organization. One provenly effective way of doing this is to recruit, grow (train) and retain (promote) your own senior managers. Carefully chosen training, provided for selected team members who are both motivated and capable, can work wonders and achieve all these goals.

There is certainly no shortage of individuals with various vested interest enthusing/ carping about particular awarding bodies and, as one would expect from digital marketing people in this, the digital age, plenty of intense social media debate, involving current students, passionate alumni and even grizzled old educators. Many have strong feelings and entrenched positions. Some maintain that any 'academic' education about (Digital) Marketing has limited value, since it's inherently a practical discipline, while others say it pays to learn the theory and to benefit from the hard-earned knowledge of experienced practitioners; after all, why make your own painful mistakes when plenty of others have gone before you? Like Sir Isaac Newton, we can all 'stand on the shoulders of giants' ...

So which training /qualifications route is best?

This conundrum appears to cry out for that old cliché and refuge of every trainer/ teacher/ lecturer facing a tricky question in real (classroom) time: "Well, it all depends...".

I regularly train successful digital marketing professionals in their mid-twenties who took a digital role straight after uni and never learned 'traditional' marketing (!). IMHO they have a few knowledge gaps to fill. After all, digital is still marketing.

Perhaps you are a (mainly offline) marketing manager aged 28, who's so far worked alongside rather than in the online team? Or are you a 22-year-old Business Studies graduate looking to start a career in marketing? Then again, maybe you're a 40-year-old entrepreneur trying to make your PPC ads work better and to pay less per click or wanting to extract deeper insights from your Google Analytics reports?

There is room (and indeed a need) for lots of different types of (Digital) Marketing training and education out there; so, my considered advice is:

Decide which segment of the market you (or your people) fall into and then shop around carefully. Solicit and study peer recommendations (including forums/ social media). Go to a recognised body which has a reputation to protect and is committed to delivering on its promises and then read the syllabus/ course description very carefully. If it's not crystal clear, call them (remember voice?) and ask about the content. Decide which study format works best for you/ your people (Intensive, day release, online learning, blended). Then buy your training/ qualification and participate wholeheartedly in the experience. Lastly, do everything you can to make sure the knowledge and skills gained are applied back at the Office. (After all good training costs money and we all believe in ROI).

And even if you don't finally get exactly the training were hoping for, don't worry too much. It's (almost) all changing all the time anyway and provided you go to a reputable provider, engage and ask questions, (almost) any training is better than no training. As a learner, you'll come out with some new ideas, perhaps a better understanding of concepts previously incompletely grasped and in many cases an extended network. When you do get (back) 'on-the-job', it should all make a bit more sense. And as you proudly stick your freshly-signed certificate up on the office wall you may find that the training/ qualification didn't give you all the answers, but (I hope) that it will help you to ask the right questions...

Good luck and enjoy your learning!

If you would like to learn more about our online learning, check out the IDM's blog on Why Online Learning is Right for You.

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