As an online marketer, you already know the value of training and education. You probably spent several years in school studying the craft, or maybe you learned about marketing on the job, spending years in an entry-level position and working your way up. Either way, you invested in your expertise, and it’s already paying off.
But the investment doesn’t end there. You owe it to yourself to continually refine your abilities and expand your knowledge, and the best way to do that is through reading.
Why marketers need to keep reading
As explained by Coupon Ninja, the benefits of reading are numerous. Not only is it a good way to get information, it improves your concentration, your memory, and can help you relax and de-stress (which marketers need to perform efficiently). Moreover, reading for the marketing industry is especially important because:
Trends change. Customers are fickle, and you need to know how their preferences and behaviors are changing at any given point in time.
Tech evolves. New technologies emerge quickly and without warning, and you need to be there to jump on them.
Creativity matters. Your vocabulary and critical thinking skills are just two creative abilities that can be enhanced by reading regularly.
Competition is fierce. Your competition is probably reading every day, so this is a good way to keep pace with them.
Top sources of information
So what exactly should you be reading in the first place? These are some of the most important sources:
Marketing news sites. First, check the obvious — marketing news sites. These industry-specific sites tend to aggregate posts from active marketing experts, and are always hungry for the latest in new technologies, trends, and points of interest for marketers. It’s custom-curated for people like you, so keep a handful of these sites bookmarked and check them daily. For starters, be sure to check out the Content Marketing Institute’s list of top content marketing blogs.
Influencer blogs. Next, you’ll want to hunt down a handful of influencers in your niche; these are other marketers or people within your specific industry who have personal blogs and large social media followings, due to their impressive reputations. They’re generally on the up-and-up with the latest information, and they’re usually the ones pushing the boundaries with unconventional tactics, so be sure to keep an eye on them.
National news sites. Marketing news sites aren’t the only news sites you should be reading, because the marketing industry isn’t the only place where news unfolds. Check out national and international news sites for the latest stories and developments. You never know when there might be a news-jacking opportunity, or some piece of news that affects your industry.
Competitor blogs. Don’t neglect your competition. They’re constantly looking for opportunities to get ahead of you, and they’re probably doing interesting things in the content marketing space. Stay abreast of their tactics, and don’t be afraid to take inspiration from them. Just don’t copy them directly, or it may work against you.
Posts from your target market. You can also use social listening software (or just keep tabs on randomly selected individual users) to see what kinds of things your target audience is posting about. This will help you gain insights for how your demographics change over time, and what new campaigns may capture their interest.
Books of all kinds. Everyone should read more books, from all kinds of disciplines. Marketing and business books are probably your first thought, but don’t underestimate the value of reading fiction, or books from other nonfiction disciplines. Any book has the power to stimulate your creativity, improve your vocabulary, and spark your imagination. If you’re looking for books in the marketing niche, there’s a great list on LinkedIn here.
The time management problem
It’s easy to look at this list and say to yourself, “yes, this is what I should be reading,” but reading isn’t something that happens instantaneously, like an email being sent to your inbox. It takes time to read, which is why most of us avoid it like an unnecessary chore in the first place.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to better manage your time and allow for more reading possibilities. For example, you could take public transportation instead of driving to work and use the time to fit in some reading. You could simply wake up 30 minutes earlier and use the time to read. You could even rely on audiobooks for the bulk of your reading habits.
There’s no excuse not to be reading avidly as an online marketer. The sooner you get started and the more consistent you are, the more you’ll stand to benefit.
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