Sunday, 17 October 2010

Learning AND Doing

After being asked for some advice, I've recently been reading various forums/ online discussions about Digital Marketing training and education. There is much heat vented 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? And maybe your next (potential) employer won't believe you really know your stuff without a suitable piece of paper from the right Professional Institution/ Trade Body?

There are certainly passionate Fanbois and Fangurlz enthusing/moaning about particular awarding bodies and, as one would expect in this 2.0 world, plenty of intense debate, involving current students, alumni and even grizzled old educators. Many have strong feelings and entrenched positions. Some maintain that 'academic' education about Digital Marketing has limited value, since it's inherently a practical discipline, while others say it pays to learn the theory as well as to benefit from the hard-earned knowledge of experienced practitioners; why make your own mistakes when plenty of others have gone before you?

I may be missing something here but this situation appears to cry out for that old cliché and refuge of every trainer/ teacher/ lecturer facing a tricky question in real time: "Well, it all depends...".

Are you a 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 cost less?

There's room (and indeed a need) for lots of different types of Digital Marketing training and education out there; so: decide which segment of the market you (or your people) fall into and then shop around carefully. Solicit and study peer recommendations (after all, it's digital!). If you don't get exactly what you were hoping for, don't worry. 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. You'll come out with some new ideas, a better understanding of concepts previously incompletely grasped and in many cases an extended network. Then, when you do get (back) 'on-the-job', it should all make a bit more sense.

Good luck!


Julian Clayton said...

Great Post Mike! This is soooo true.

You can read the various institutes (and their fans) slagging each other off online, the specialists ripping chunks out of the generalists and vice versa, but as you rightly say, everyone's training need is different.

I must say: in the UK we are spoilt for choice; the quality of Digital training here is generally excellent; no wonder people come from all over the world to learn Digital in the UK (or sign up for the Distance Learning version to protect their carbon footprint).

As for the training providers, get over it! At least you're not trying to teach sales promotion - are you???

Mike Berry said...

I agree the UK (esp. Manchester, Edinboro', Cardiff and London) is exceptionally well off in terms of Digital Marketing training courses and qualifications.

London's looking like the Digital Hub of the world right now but we have lots to learn from the US, Central Europe, LatAm, Japan, S. Korea and increasingly India and China. Watch this space!

Suraj Atreya said...

Prof. Mike, completely agree with you on this. I believe it does make lot of sense to be trained on a practical subject from an expert, rather than being trained in just theory and traditional models with very little practical application.

Mike Berry said...


Educational theorists have 'proved' that for many learners' needs, the ideal is a blend of theory, experts' tips based on years of experience, and getting hands-on yourself. "I hear and I forget. I listen and I understand. I do and I remember." etc. But as I said in the post, it doesn't need to be 100% perfect.

Enjoy your Master's Degree in Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School!