Louis Venter: State of Digital Summer School, Learning from the Experts
This summer we have been taking you back to school! We have been focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you have seen answered throughout the summer by those you can learn from the best: the experts. Those that already earned their stripes and are now willing to share with you how they got there and what you should do to get that far as well.
It is now time to close the series, since the summer is officially over. But not before we have just a few more insights from the experts closest to us: our editorial team!
What type of education did you have?
I actually started University wanting to be an Accountant! Luckily we had a few IT systems analysis and design modules and from there I ditched that and took the programming and systems analysis route although the accounting side really helps with running the agency and understanding the detail in the finances.
From there I went into the school of hard knocks as I started my own web agency pretty much out of University with a good mate.
I use a lot of the finance and especially the management accounting and business process reengineering in managing the agency. The development side comes in handy all the time as I can write an app to do something specific or have a technical conversation with a development team about changes that need to be implemented which helps a lot.
How did you get into digital marketing?
I had a horrific job when I came to London “for a year” that wanted to relocate us to Oklahoma so I started a small tape to DVD conversion company. I had zero money to market it properly so a very good mate helped me on my way into SEO. At one point we had 5 different sites on page one and thought that SEO sounded like a far better idea than watching peoples home videos all day!
How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?
I think we’re getting far better at understanding digital integration but there is a hell of a lot more learn around understanding the different channels and their workflows. Sometimes a little knowledge is far more dangerous than none at all so I am spending a lot more time understanding the detail in each so you can unpick what people say and what they actually mean as well as integrate the more efficiently.
How do you feel about online training courses?
I’m not a huge fan of courses per se as I feel that the digital world moves quicker than the course agenda can! That said there are a lot of good ones that give you a fundamental base, it’s important not to think it’s much more than that though. You need to develop your skills further and autonomously if you want to be in digital. It moves too quickly not to.
What is your tip for those that want to learn more?
Read and DO. It’s very easy to learn the theory but it’s completely useless if you can’t put it into practice and measure the outcome. Strategize, test and measure is the key to learning in the digital space as failure often teaches us far more than success does.
You will also need to be a voracious reader. There is so much happening across all channels at any one time that you need to be on top of recent changes and development. The beauty is its all online and if you make time to invest in your skills you will be a far better marketer.
What resources are best to learn marketing?
I think you need to get a fundamental base around the technologies, platforms and measurement first. That could be a fundamentals course or self-taught with the plethora of resources available online. From there I personally feel you need to dedicate an hour or more a day to keep developing your knowledge where you feel you are weakest. Strengthen your biggest weakness then find the next one and strengthen that. Read specialist blogs on the subject though. I find I get a lot more from specialist PR blogs for example than an SEO’s angle on PR. There is much more to learn if you constantly challenge yourself and question everything.
What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?
Shew, I learn a new lesson every day! I think I’d get bored otherwise!