The good and bad part about marketing, especially digital marketing, is every time I begin to feel comfortable with my knowledge of the latest marketing trends, the entire industry seems to change. Although that can be frustrating, it also keeps me energized and focused on continued education. Since I started my career 15 years ago, trends have come and gone, and even come back again. The past few years have seen the biggest changes as digital marketing spends have begun to eclipse traditional marketing.
There’s a delicate balance between wasting your time chasing the latest trends and ignoring the future altogether. I have seen great marketers needlessly pivot from one fad to another, abandoning their strategy, and driving their teams crazy in the process. I have also seen the opposite, companies and individuals, ignoring industry progress and keeping their heads in the sand until the world passes them by. My preferred approach is the one utilized by companies including Coca-Cola and Leo Burnett; continued experimentation through trial and error using 10% of my annual budget to test out new media partners, strategies, and technology.
Below are a few of the resources I utilize to keep up with the latest marketing trends.
Subscribing to marketing newsletters is my favorite way to quickly follow the latest marketing news. They provide a curated sample of industry headlines that you scan through in a matter of minutes. Unlike social media, you can read them in a distraction free environment and not worry about going down a rabbit-hole of Internet surfing.
Digiday Newsletters (Retail Briefing and Marketing Newsletter)
Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today
Podcasts are a great way to dive deeper into topics and hear interviews with industry leaders. I listen to them at the gym, during my commute, and to pass the time on plane trips.
Marketing Over Coffee (Interviews about a wide range of marketing topics)
Making Marketing by Digiday (Great interviews with DTC industry leaders)
Digiday Podcast (Interviews with media publications)
Social Pros Podcast (Deep dive into social media marketing)
IdeaCast by Harvard Business Review (High-quality business podcast)
Tim Ferriss Podcast
(Primarily a business and health podcast. I pick and choose episodes that are relevant. Interviews with CEOs, celebrities, etc.)
Audio Books, Books, and Magazines
Call me old-fashioned, but books and magazines are still one of my favorite ways to stay educated on the business and marketing communities. Magazines fill the same role as email newsletters by presenting curated lists of recent trends. Audio books are perfect for long flights and Los Angeles traffic. Printed books are my preference for diving into topics. I have recently been reading books on management and building organizations.
Fast Company (Business, Marketing, Technology)
Radical Candor (One of my favorite books about managing)
The Content Trap (Importance of connections over content)
The Effective Executive (The definitive book on management)
The Making of A Manager (Quick read about managing people and projects)
Building A StoryBrand (Use stories to connect with your customers)
Made To Stick (What makes an idea or concept memorable)
Good To Great (How can a good company become a great company? )
I used to rely on social media, specifically LinkedIn and Twitter, much more as a learning resource. I realized last year that it was more of a distraction than anything else for me personally. There are fantastic media outlets and marketers to follow on LinkedIn and Twitter, but in between their content is more and more clickbait junk, useless top ten lists, and distractions.
Conferences and Conversations
One of my goals this year is to attend more marketing conventions, mixers, and seminars. In the past, I have primarily attended events that have a small marketing track but are designed for the industry I am instead of specifically for marketers. For example, a theme park, entertainment, or consumer electronics event that has a subset of marketing panels. I have been impressed by the few American Marketing Association events in Los Angeles and Orange County that I have attended.
Conversations with co-workers, agencies, and other vendors are also great sources of information. This is especially true if you have an open and honest relationship with your agency and co-workers that permits healthy debate and discussion. Without that type of culture, you can become trapped in your company’s echo-chamber.
For an even more honest view of your brand and products, there is no better place to turn than your customers, die-hard fans, and competitors’ supporters. Their opinions are readily available on social media, Reddit, review websites, and almost everywhere else you look on the Internet. I try not to focus on any one person’s opinion or experience, but instead look for trends in the aggregate conversation.
Share Your Favorite Resources
How do you keep up with industry trends? Which resources do you turn to? Which events do you recommend attending? Please let me know by sharing in the comments. I am always looking for new outlets and voices to follow.