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Bill Slawski: Summer School, Learning from the Experts

This summer we are taking you back to school! We are focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you will see 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.

Today we listen to Bill Slawski. Bill is the President of SEO by the Sea and Director of Search Marketing for Go Fish Digital. He has been involved in internet marketing and web promotion since 1996, providing consulting services to help people make their web sites easier to find on the internet, and easier to use, and increase revenues and conversions.

More about Bill here.

Summer School

Let’s ask some questions!

What type of education did you have?Bill Slawski

I attended the University of Delaware and earned an undergraduate degree in English. Most of the courses I selected to take were writing courses, where our grades were based upon writing papers for the classes. I decided a couple of years after graduating to go to law school, and went to the Widener University School of Law.

Is your education related to what you do now?

There really weren’t any classes on online marketing available to me, but I do write everyday, and I use methods of arguing and of creating relevant content everyday that I learned in my classes.

How did you get into digital marketing?

I put together a website for a couple of friends for a business they were starting and started to promote it for them.

Did you need extra schooling? If so, what type of extra schooling did you get?

I learned an incredible amount from writing about patents that I read, so most of that schooling was self motivated. Being involved in a Forum on web promotion and design was a good learning experience. I did attend a seminar on usability from Jared Spool, which was helpful when it came to making a website easier to use. A book on Web Marketing from Roger C. Parker provided a lot of good ideas.

How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?

I’ve been seeing more classes offered, but I think the best educational experiences for marketing online might be hands-on.

How do you feel about online training courses?

I haven’t had the chance to take too many online training courses, but I’ve watched a few. They do provide a nice change of pace from trying to teach yourself a topic. 🙂

What is your tip for those that want to learn more?

Different people learn differently, and sometimes the structure of an actual class can really help some people. The difficult part of trying to teach yourself is that you may not have any idea of what you should target when you’re trying to do that.

What resources are best to learn marketing?

A supportive atmosphere and community can make a big difference, as can mentors who might be willing to share their experiences.

What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?

I’m not sure that I could easily segment the things I’ve learned into separate lessons, since I’m a firm believer in trying to learn as you go, and as you grow.

Know about what is changing in marketing!

Keep up with the latest digital marketing developments, views and how-tos through State of Digital’s digest newsletters. Be the first to hear about events, white papers, e-books, webinars, training and more!


Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
  • I have my PhD in chemical engineering and I can attest that everyone learns differently Bill is an excellent writer I am a horrible writer. However I am an A/V learner where my father is someone who has to read something to fully comprehend it or take it in. Everyone is born different therefore everyone learns slightly differently and I agree 100% with what Bill said I think that’s what part of learning on the web is so appealing because you can simply choose your method would you like to watch it on video, read it, see you photograph all three distilled u an excellent course I can say that

    • billslawski

      Thanks, Thomas. One of the best classes I’ve ever taken was through an employer. It was a “Train the Trainer” class where we learned different strategies and approaches for training others, including people who might do some training of other people. It involved exploring teaching through discussion, or demonstrations, or lectures, or by providing hands-on opportunities to learn. At the time, I was doing lots of training of others, and focusing on how best to help them was something that really helped me become a lot more effective.

      One of my employees was re-entering the workforce after a long and very successful career as a stay-at-home mom. She needed to use a computer as part of her job, but hadn’t had any experience using a mouse, and was holding it very gingerly, as if she was afraid she might break it.

      I remembered reading that games like Solitaire were included in Windows to help people learn to use a mouse, so I showed it to her, taught her how to play, and told her that she should play at least a half-hour to an hour a day, and if anyone gave her a hard time over her playing solitaire, to come see me over it. Within a year, she was training other people within the Court system how to use a complicated real time sentencing program, for use in a court room. She was the trainer. She was good at it.

      Lessons learned: (1) Train your employees, because it can make a difference in how effective they might be day-to-day. (2) Learning can be fun, and that can help make it even more effective. (3) Give people a chance to learn and grow, because they may turn out surprising you by how well they can learn. (4) Conventional methods of teaching may not always be the best, so experiment and try different things (same with learning).

      • Hi Bill,

        I really liked that idea of “Train the Trainer” the way you guys what about that is amazing. It has always been more effective in my experience when people are allowed to put themselves in other shoes. Even more so though by having a diverse way of learning just like you talked about.

        Having requested her to play solitaire for 30 min. a day on a computer is is a fantastic example of outside the box teaching and learning. She most likely did not mind playing and I can understand how that would make you feel more comfortable using a mouse. That is amazing what she is gone to do with the skills.

        Lesson (1) I agree with you 100% (2) I completely agree with you on this too. Something school systems need to learn the more enjoyable morning process more efficient.

        (3) I completely agree if I was born 10 years prior to that age I am now ages 34 I would not have completed college. Right now I am using voice recognition technology to type this. German being my native language and my terrible spelling is something I had been embarrassed my entire life of voice recognition technology literally was in its infancy ( when I had to write papers in boarding school without it I probably would not have passed that either.)

        (4) I feel so lucky that I was in a position where my parents literally bent over backwards and forced me to work with what I had which was the ability to memorize the spelling of words but could not sound them out phonetically. If it was not for their help convincing some teachers that in the real world people do not necessarily care as much about how you get to your goal as long as you get to it.

        An excellent example of that was one of my first jobs I am good at math and science so I tried to impress my boss by dividing large numbers of my head. He was so mad at me for not using the calculator that was right in front of us. Rightfully so because he told me roughly “I could have made a costly error to the company simply because I thought I knew the answer”

        I do not know anyone that will in a business scenario get mad at somebody for using a tool that will enhance their ability to do something.

        I feel that there are a lot of kids out there that could knock at the same support I did who are very smart but did not get the help needed. Now that I have proven most of my middle school teachers wrong I would love to do something to help people in similar learning situations.

        Thank you for taking the time to write all of this that was so kind of you very insightful and really refreshing to hear somebody with your point of view.

        Any chance you going to be yet SearchLove San Diego?

        Have a great weekend.



  • billslawski

    Thank you for the interview, Bas. I would like to add that I think it’s essential and important to spend some time every week in looking over the projects you’ve worked upon, in the discussions that you’ve had with others within the industry – in places like forums and hangouts and comments, in sales proposals and pitches, and condense things you may have learned during those into lessons that you can learn from as well. If you have people you work with, and they might be willing to discuss their days or weeks w/you as you tell them about yours, that could be a good learning moment for both of you.

    Ideally the people you work with, or who may work for you should be given as many chances to learn and grow and succeed as possible, too.

    I like the idea of a learning library like you see when you walk into the Search Church at Seer Interactive, where people who work there can pick up a book off the shelf and bring it home and return it when they are done.

    I like the idea of a company providing subscriptions for employees to online training classes to help them improve their skills and knowledge.

    I’ve been working lately towards setting up an ongoing lunch and learn. We work remotely at Go Fish Digital, and using some like Google Hangouts for people within the office gives us a chance to learn for each other, and gives us a chance to get practice giving presentations as well.

  • Amadeuz07

    Hey there, I like how you emphasize that personal experience really helps in knowledge about digital marketing. Since digital marketing success is not magic after all, I like the fact that bill point out that hands-on is a must experience as well of having a good and positive community to support you. I also believe being open minded is a vital factor in learning these courses. Great interview, precise question. Thanks for this insight.