6 Free Cross-Training Ideas for B2B Digital Marketers
This year one of KoMarketing’s priorities is the creation of more cross-training opportunities for team members. In learning new skills, members of the KoMarketing team ultimately become better digital marketers, better support client programs, and the organization.
Cross training provides value for broader B2B marketing professionals as well.
As the B2B marketing responsibility list continues to grow, further training and the opportunity for marketers to learn additional skills and technologies is essential.
If your organization’s financial resources are like ours, investments need as clear a tie as possible to bottom-line business performance. As a result, we know we will need to get creative in finding cross-training opportunities.
Here are six digital marketing cross-training ideas we’re looking to adopt in the new year, designed to create opportunities for team members to learn new skills, while also remaining cost effective and free in many cases.
Set Aside Time Every Week
A while back I wrote a post on how to integrate social media into everyday B2B marketing strategy. One of the recommendations was to set 15 minutes a day to social media activity, making this activity a priority and not just a task.
The same can be said for cross-training and learning new skills. Productive learning is only successful when prioritizing learning on a regular basis.
If you’re on the agency side, it’s easy to get meetings placed on your calendar often and on short notice. In an effort to ensure time can be invested in cross-training endeavors, try to add “holds” or other sensible reserved times to your calendar to help mitigate unsuspecting or last minute scheduling.
You may be interested in learning a new skill but unsure it’s the right fit or unfamiliar with the expectations of roles associated with it. In situations like this, ask for the opportunity to sit in on meetings when team members utilizing this skill are presenting, or the skill itself is in focus.
At KoMarketing, we try to alert team members when someone is presenting a recommendation or tactic not frequently used or that Directors know could be applicable across capability sets.
For example: a few months back we helped a client implement and configure a new Google Tag Manager initiative. Team members from both our PPC and SEO teams joined the meeting to get a sense of the steps involved in the process.
Meeting observation may help you determine how much you need to learn or where you need to focus first. I recommend taking notes (perhaps volunteer to take notes for the team!) and considering how you would address questions posed.
For those with a bit more experience (agency side in particular), consider collaborating or even leading sections of client meetings that relate to skills being learned.
In situations where it won’t make sense to actively or directly participate in client meetings, perhaps there are opportunities to role play discussions.
I would also recommend setting aside time after the call / meeting to work with applicable team members to reassess conversations and discuss context and applicable next steps.
If this is something completely new, offer to take notes in applicable meetings as a way to participate instead. I find I retain more information when writing things down in addition to listening.
Utilize Platform-Specific Resources
As marketing technology continues to evolve, the demand for resources supporting both problem awareness and vendor validation increases dramatically. The good news is that more martech vendors appear to be up to the challenge in providing resources for new users and more experienced marketers.
Here are a few examples from vendors related to KoMarketing efforts:
- Search Engines: Google, Bing, Baidu
- Social Media: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (shortcuts here), Twitter
- Marketing Automation: Marketo, Pardot, Act-On
The simplest way to find platform-specific resources is in reviewing “Resource” sections of vendor websites. “Resources” may often be found under vendor “Learning Centers,” “Knowledge Base,” or other education-related headings and terminology.
While most certifications will have a financial cost associated with them, there are several free options and platform-specific certifications available. Many will offer sample certifications and freely accessible coursework to get marketers started as well.
Some of the more common certifications, both free and with commercial license, relevant for B2B digital marketers in particular:
- Google Digital Marketing Certifications
- Google AdWords & Analytics Certifications and Google’s Academy for Ads
- Bing Ads Accreditation
- Facebook Blueprint eLearning Courses / Certifications
- eMarketing Institute’s Free Online Marketing Course & Certification
- HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification Course
- WordStream’s PPC University
- AMA PCM®, Digital Marketing Certification & Free Practice Exam
- AMA Professional Certified Marketer in Digital Marketing via LinkedIn Learning
- Salesforce and Marketo Certification Programs (certification fees apply)
- Moz SEO Experts Quiz (not a certification but a good starting point for understanding what to learn with technical SEO in particular)
Lunch and Learns
KoMarketing tries to meet twice a month for collaborative training sessions. These training sessions often rotate between presentations to collaborative discussions to themed activities.
“Lunch and learns” provide another opportunity for team members to ask questions and gain perspective. Hopefully they also provide a starting point in organizational aspects not often experienced or in direct requirements.
If your organization provides these type of opportunities, consider finding the appropriate points of contact leading this initiative to provide suggestions on learning topics and areas of focus.
It’s not say our organization won’t be sending team members to conferences and other learning opportunities, local, regional, and national, in an effort to further develop digital marketing skills.
Rather, we also believe that skills can also be improved with regular, ongoing exposure and an opportunity to “learn on the job” when appropriate (though certainly when NOT putting client performance at risk!).
How has your organization been able to adopt cross-training opportunities for marketing team members? We would love to read your ideas and perspective through Twitter, LinkedIn, and through comments below.