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!