It’s the Eve of a New Year. Aside from the celebrations, it’s a fine time to spend a few minutes contemplating goals for the New Year ahead.
For us marketers, perhaps the single biggest perennial challenge we face (aside from getting a little more exercise) is keeping up with the phenomenal pace of change in our profession. We must continuously stoke our curiosity and be willing, even eager, to experiment with new ideas.
So I humbly offer ten suggestions for things to do in the New Year to renew your perspective and skill set in the evergreen field of modern marketing:
1. Follow A New Blogger
Ideally, follow someone who writes outside the circle of the other bloggers that you already read. Here are three suggestions to consider: David Raab of Raab & Associates; Paul Roetzer of PR 20/20; Greg Satell of Digital Tonto.
2. Try A New Piece Of Software
We’re living in the Golden Age of Marketing Software — there are so many new products offering marketers so many new capabilities. Most of it is provided as software-as-a-service, often with free trials, so it’s easy to give something a whirl. I’ll feature an updated marketing technology landscape in one of my next columns, but in the meantime, here are a few to look at:Cloze, Geckoboard, Intercom, Woopra.
3. Go To A New Event
Great conferences can be inspiring. You hear new perspectives. You meet new people. You take a little time outside of the office to think in new surroundings. So pick an intriguing event that you haven’t been to before and go. (Of course, I’m assuming you already go to all the excellentThird Door Media shows — as my editor would surely suggest.) Here’s a few to consider that are outside the big search and social shows: O’Reilly’s Strata Conference; AdMonster’sMarketing Ops/Tech Summit; Grow Conference.
4. Try A Bold, New A/B Test
There are plenty of everyday A/B tests to be done out there: optimizations of headlines, calls-to-action, and choice of imagery. By all means, engage in those tests. But make a commitment to also try a bold, new experiment — trying out a different value proposition or targeting a specialized audience segment with a whole new approach.
5. Regularly Read The Featured Presentations From SlideShare
SlideShare is one of the best sources of free professional education out there. Not only will you learn about new subjects, but you’ll also see lots of ideas for improving your own presentations. Here are a few that were featured when I wrote this column: The Beginner’s Guide to Growth Hacking, The 12 Days of #PowerPoint, Designing with Data: Creating Visualizations to Tell Your Story.
6. Go To A New Meetup
Take an evening and go to a new meetup in your area. It’s a good way to network and exchange ideas with other nearby professionals. Here in my neighborhood, for instance, there’s the Boston Agile Marketing Group, Boston Predictive Analytics, Collide: Tech, Sci, Arts & Culture, and theLean Startup Circle Boston.
7. Learn How To Code
No, really. I’m not saying that you should switch careers and become a software engineer, but learning how to code will help you collaborate better with professional coders, give you a better appreciation for the software you use, and help you improve your process design skills. Check out Codeacademy and Code.org — anybody can learn. (Already know how to code? Learn a new language, framework, or API.)
8. Read A New Non-Marketing Book
There’s always a list of must-read marketing books each year that you’re bound to either read or have summarized for you by someone else. But take time to read at least one non-fiction book outside the circle of marketing that may broaden your horizons in other directions. For instance, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragility, Charles Wheelan’s Naked Statistics, or Daniel Khneman’sThinking, Fast and Slow.
9. Try Out A New Device
Device proliferation and diversification is one of the more interesting trends that marketers should stay on top of. So go out of your way to try new devices. If you’re an Apple person, try an Android phone or tablet (and vice-versa). Seek out opportunities to play with devices like thePebble smartwatch, Google Glass, the Nike+ FuelBand, Fitbit, Apple TV, and the Nest Thermostat.
10. Engage In An Agile Marketing Pilot Project
If you haven’t already, gather a team together to apply the agile marketing methodology to your work for several months on a trial basis, to see what it’s like. (Objections? Here are three myths of agile marketing, debunked.) If you’re already doing agile marketing, push your team at your next retrospective to ask how you could take your game to the next level.
Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2014!