How I Would Learn Marketing If I Started Over Today

 

My friend landed his first job in the marketing field. “Any books or resources or tips you’d recommend for marketing?” he asked.

There are so many different philosophical approaches (e.g. direct sales vs. permission marketing), digital vs. traditional (email vs. direct mail), parts of the funnel (acquisition vs. retention), and channels (e.g. social vs. SEO)… Where should you start?

Or, if I had to learn marketing from scratch, what would I do?

I’d start with foundational material first.

To do that, I’d start by understanding what the end goal looked like: To be a T-shaped marketer. Joanna Lord, Growth at ClassPass, lays out what she’d look for in a growth hire here. Brian Balfour, CEO at Reforge (I work there) has a good model on what a T-shaped marketer would look like if you focused on customer acquisition.

Once I understood the end goal and why people are looking for a specific kind of marketer, I’d read Scott Tousley’s post on how to think about building skill sets. Presumably, most people will skew towards digital over traditional marketing, in which case Nate Eliason wrote a great post on how to develop digital marketing skills.

If I was in my friend’s shoes and landed a job, I’d spend the first month:

First identifying the skills I needed for the role…

Second, identify the skills lacking at the company, so I could create my own niche…

And focus on those.

But let’s say I had no idea what the role looked like: How would I approach it then? Instead of diving deep into any specific channel, I’d continue building my foundation with these three topics (more or less in this order, depending on your interest) until the role took on more shape:

  1. Positioning
  2. User Psych
  3. Copywriting

Some books I’d recommend:

On Positioning: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

On User Psych : Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahn and Influence by Robert Cialdini

On Copywriting: There’s so much out there. I’d start with Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples, and balance it out with a practical copywriting course like Krazy Writing Kourse by Neville Medhora (many people have recommended Copy Hour to me as well but I haven’t tried it).

To round it all out, a couple of slightly lighter general business books that are great for tweaking your mindset: Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin. And How To Get Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham.

Photo Credit: Patrick Lauke

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