You don’t have time to keep up on industry trends. You’re an entrepreneur, marketing manager, or HR executive, with a schedule jam-packed with the day-to-day activities of your career — not sticking your head in whitepapers on your industry for hours on end.
Believe me, I feel your pain. Running Influence & Co., I constantly felt that I was out of the loop on the overall trends in the marketing and advertising industries because my vision was clouded by minute details. For this reason, I created a crash course for myself on the advertising industry. Each month, I make sure I’m addressing one section of my crash course and making time to educate myself on trends within advertising.
Here’s my crash course for the advertising industry, but it can be replicated across any industry by simply plugging in the relevant people, places, and things.
1) Attend Conferences
Yes, attending conferences requires an investment of time and money, but they’re worth it. Even if you just choose one a year, it’s important for you to get out of your bubble and see what others in your industry are doing by meeting them face-to-face. Here’s my “hit list” for this year:
Presented by the American Advertising Federation and held in Phoenix, Ariz. June 5th through the 8th, ADMERICA! will bring together the elite of the elite, such as Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable and the keynote speaker, to discuss the current state of the industry and where it’s heading.
For the fifth year in a row, small- and mid-size agencies will come together in Portland, Ore., July 24th through the 25th to discuss industry trends, talent, agency culture, management, and other aspects of the industry that agencies might face.
Both of these conferences have something in common: the meeting of minds. I go for the speakers, of course, but more for the attendees. If I can hear about one mistake that a colleague of mine has made over the last year so I don’t make it in my business, it’s worth the time and money it cost to attend.
2) Read Industry Publications
You might not have hours reserved for reading whitepapers, but you should have a few minutes to dedicate to reading articles each day. Use an aggregator, like Zite or Flipboard, to bring content to you easily, or choose a favorite publication or two to keep yourself informed. Here are two of my favorites:
- The Agency Post, an interactive publication for the ad industry that speaks on current trends, marketing disciplines, and anything else that might happen within the advertising space.
- ClickZ provides expert advice and information on social, tech, search, media, analytics, and more for the marketing industry.
What I love about these publications is that the content comes from those in my industry, not just journalists. I’m hearing from other agency owners who are facing the same things I’m facing.
3) Listen to Podcasts and Webinars
I’m sure a few of you just rolled your eyes and said something along the lines of “Oh, if I only had time to read.” For you, I have another option: listen to podcasts. You can listen to them in your car on the way to work or while you’re working out and still absorb valuable content.
Two podcasts I frequently listen to:
- John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and creator of the Duct Tape Lead Generation Machine, releases several podcasts throughout the year that discuss how the ad industry is changing and how small businesses can take advantage of those trends.
- eMarketer hosts a monthly webinar that discusses marketing trends and insights, ranging across different verticals such as social media, e-commerce, and mobile from various thought leaders within those spaces.
Find podcasts in your industry that offer real value, not just promotional material about their creators’ services or clients. You’ll be amazed at how much they bring you out of your business and get you thinking at a higher level.
4) Follow Industry Experts
You know those people who seem to have all the answers (that you are secretly kind of jealous of)? Instead of being jealous, learn from them. I follow many advertising industry experts on Twitter and instead of envying their following, I learn from what they say and converse with them.
- Drew McLellan of Agency Management Roundtable brings more than 25 years of experience to the playing field and consults small- and mid-size agencies on how to grow their businesses.
- Dan Oshinsky, an entrepreneur, reporter, and tech enthusiast, has founded and created multiple startups, such as Stry.us. As a regular columnist at The Agency Post, he shares his advice on time management, the basis of communication, productivity, and more that helps marketing professionals perform better.
Both of these experts offer different perspectives and challenge me to think about the industry through someone else’s eyes.
This may seem like information overload, but you don’t need to attend a conference, read industry pubs, listen to podcasts, and follow industry experts’ opinions every day. Make your own crash course, figure out which learning style fits you best, and challenge yourself to get outside of your business every once in a while to see what’s happening around you. I promise it will be worth it.
Kelsey Meyer is the President of Influence & Co., a company that assists individuals and brands in growing their influence by getting bylined articles published in online publications. Influence & Co. is one of the leading providers of high-quality, expert content to the world’s top publications.
This article was co-authored by Natalie Stezovsky, Vice President of Influence & Co.
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