USING ISOLATION TO SHARPEN YOUR MIND, UPDATE YOUR SKILLS, AND CONNECT.
Along with many fellow marketers in events, travel, hospitality and retail, my career has been temporarily but significantly impacted by coronavirus, and I’ve found myself with rather a lot of time on my hands. I’m reframing this as finally having the time to dedicate to learning and development.
I have been focusing on three things – learning and inventing new recipes in a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ inspired lottery of what is on the supermarket shelves (surprising how often this ends up as a cake…); staying useful by volunteering my marketing and comms skills in a sector I might not otherwise experience (check out Pimp My Cause for ideas – I’ve just linked up with both a small bat conservation NGO and an education non-profit through them); and finally – keeping my brain and skills sharp with the multitude of e-learning opportunities that are out there.
As well as resources that have always been there (had I ever had the time to look), many providers are responding to COVID-19 by making some or all of their content free, agencies are sharing what might otherwise have been gated content (followed by months of sales calls), and marketing members clubs are moving online – sharing what, in pre-pandemic times, would likely have been paid and gated.
All of which means, in my mind at least, I can turn what could be a mentally and emotionally challenging career moment into a bizarrely rich ‘learning retreat’ with all the dubious comfort and catering of my own home. In fact, there’s so much out there, binge-learning is a risk! And I haven’t even begun looking at languages or crafts.
Please enjoy this e-learning playlist – from bite size brain expanders to serious time and wallet emptiers!
WEBINARS AND VIDEO ON DEMAND (FREE OR LOW COST)
Our very own Copy Club is a super resource during these times, especially for marketers who are in startups and scaleups without an extended marketing team for support. The sense of community is unrivalled. All year round members have been sharing ideas, tips, motivation and acting as a sounding board for each other, both on LinkedIn and on WhatsApp. Events are always accessibly priced for individual marketers to afford to fund themselves, and during the pandemic have moved online. A whole range of emergency peer-to-peer support is available too: https://www.thecopyclub.co.uk/were-here
The How to Academy have a series of free topical webinars over the next few weeks, including ‘How to Adapt and Survive in a Time of Crisis’, ‘The New Science of Healing and Recovery’, and ‘How to Cope with Uncertainty at Work.
The Marketing Meetup had to cancel all their events (usually paid, but at very reasonable cost-covering prices), and founder Joe Glover decided a cheeky ask of what one member described as ‘The Marketing Avengers’ was worth a shot. Cue a pretty epic line up of names over the next few months, including Margaret Molloy, Rory Sutherland, and Mark Ritson. One word of warning – their website is pop-up intensive!
Aimed at B2B marketers, they are holding a free weekly webinar on Wednesdays, to discuss “How the CoronaVirus Crisis affects B2B Marketing”.
The CMA are joining the ranks of industry associations offering content for free in these times, and have even announced complimentary membership for freelancers to support this hard hit group. Like many, they’re doing it on the hoof, so the calendar is a little tricky to find on their website: https://events.the-cma.com/pages/cma-learning-webinars?
Usually a fairly expensive gang to join, the Marketing Society are embracing the new normal, and creating a series of free online webinars to support marketers at this time. Many are available on demand on their homepage.
Agencies and generous experts
We’re all used to receiving a lot of event invites from various agencies, and many have upped their game in response to the pandemic, seeing the opportunity to share content to isolated marketers (ideally with a very soft or even no-sell approach).
I’ve picked three out as examples. They’re not an agency I’ve personally worked with, and only became aware of them recently. Watch Me Think is a ‘global consumer empathy’ agency. Like many agencies, in normal times they organise the occasional event as a way of doing some client networking and lead generation. A summary from their recent “Rebels guide to Innovating and Renovating” is available here, and includes some brilliant speakers – I’d walk over hot coals to listen to Sam Conniff anytime. They’re also going to be opening up full footage from archive events weekly on Tuesdays. CEO Alistair Vince says, “We’re calling them IsolaTED talks until we get told not to”. You’ll need to sign up to their newsletter to get the access password.
My second agency example is Candour, an SEO agency based in Norwich. CEO Mark Williams-Cook is offering a day’s SEO training to anyone who has lost their job as a result of coronavirus, which will be in the form of a Udemy course he is going to create. Mark is also posting a daily unsolicited SEO tip – his feed is worth a follow. A brilliant example of putting into practice one of Cialdini’s principles of persuasion, with generosity being a good business practice in the longer term.
And finally – Marketers in pyjamas, a ‘lighthearted lunch and learn during lockdown’ from Tribe! The brilliance of the name alone would be enough without the stellar cast – Mark Ritson, Tom Goodwin, Keith Weed, and a host of industry leaders.
KNOWLEDGE HUBS (FREE)
Zest serves up a smorgasbord of marketing articles that they think you might be interested in – you can filter by tags or just take a lucky dip approach. It’s curated by the community and they claim only around 1% of suggested content is approved.
Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis are exactly who you’d want as your work bestie. They’d nod understandingly as you ranted, give you tough love when you need it and build you back up again with a sense of purpose and direction. If you haven’t already listened to the Squiggly Careers Podcast or checked out their book, do so!
They’ve also generously made one of their programmes free at this point to anyone who is going through redundancy. It’s called the Redundancy Reset, but I’d argue that the steps in it would be worth doing at key points in your career regardless – thinking about your drivers, your strengths and super strengths, what you need to be and do your best at work. Brilliant stuff. Details here.
These bite size courses from Tech Nation look well suited to anyone working in a start-up, not just marketers.
Up your SEO skill set. These courses are usually paid for, but they are offering many of their courses (excluding certification) free until May 31.
Free Code Camp has 5,000 tutorials and 2,000 hours of free curriculum. Will lockdown be long enough to get through all that?
FORMAL COURSES (FREE)
Class Central is a kind of search engine aggregator of online learning. One feature that stood out to me – a list of free courses offered by Ivy League Universities. Classical music, algorithms, poetry, law – although we’re marketers, there’s something to be said for constantly learning outside of our own sectors – you never know what is going to trigger your next idea.
There’s a bit of everything on Skill Share, so finding a way to navigate the choice is key. I’ve taken advantage of an offer of 2 months free from Tom Goodwin (go via https://skl.sh/tomgoodwin – he donates his referral fee to charity) and am beginning with his course on “Getting a YES: How to Prep, Pitch, Persuade and Close”. As Tom says, “Now is a TERRIBLE time to pitch, but it’s a wonderful time to learn.”
Speaking of Tom, one other rather intriguing thing he does is sporadically send out a newsletter. It’s an invitation to follow him down a rabbit hole – there’s no time pattern to it, or standard format, it’s just a collection of things he’s found interesting and thinks worth sharing. It’s the email equivalent of a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, and worth a look. Clear your afternoon though, it might be a while before you get back to what you were ‘meant’ to be doing! You can sign up for it here, but no idea when issue 3 will be out….
You can sign up for a 7 day trial of coursera, (£37 per month after that) or, browse their free courses as a starting point. https://www.coursera.org/search?query=free%20courses&
They have tracks you can follow in areas such as Data Science, Business, Arts & Humanities and are a great place to start if you want to learn in a wider way than purely marketing content. I’ve signed up for a free course taught by a Psychology Professor at Yale, on ‘The Science of Wellbeing’.
Courses from top universities, offered as short courses, microcredentials, or online degrees.
Many of the courses have options for being accessed free for a limited time, upgrade to a longer time frame, or pay for unlimited access. ‘The Secret Power of Brands’ created by University of East Anglia in partnership with brand consultancy Wolff Olins is just one example of an available free course.
KNOWLEDGE HUBS (PAID)
If you have Linkedin premium, then Linkedin Learning courses are worth a look – and you can always try them out with the free intro month of premium. Courses are listed under three categories – Business, Creative, and Technology and range from hands-on how-tos to guidance on management and leadership. Most are fairly bite-sized in terms of investment of time, and serve as good jumping off points for areas you might want to delve further into. As ways of using former commute time, they’re just about right.
FORMAL COURSES (PAID)
You can pay by course at around £80 each, or buy an all access pass for a year at £250. Behavioural Economics with Rory Sutherland looks to be a highlight, but as well as storytelling, creativity, behavioural science, the range extends to ‘Think Like Sherlock’ taught by a Scotland Yard detective, courses on happiness from the Happiness Research Institute, and a practical course for improving your sleep. Currently they are offering 50% off wellbeing courses.
Developed by sweary rogue Mark Ritson, this has a strong reputation and even marketers with many years’ experience under their belts have given it rave reviews.
With so many marketers experiencing upheaval, I’m sure I’m not alone in considering taking this at this time. However at £1,500 (for those of us not VAT registered or supporting by a company L&D budget) it’s a hefty investment at a time of financial uncertainty. I’d like to see them join in the spirit of generosity being seen out there, and offer a reduced rate to anyone undergoing redundancy or furlough. The current course started on 21 April, with the next intake being September 2020.
I hope you’ll find some of these resources useful, please do use the contact form to share any others that you’ve found, especially if you have first-hand experience of them.
Photo by Jakob Søby on Unsplash