There are many people who have asked me how I stay on top of what’s important in the online marketing and PR world. Some of what I do is scheduled and methodical. Some is more intuitive and opportunistic. Many of you are in the same boat: wanting to find ways to stay informed and several steps ahead.
Here are a few of the things I do to not only stay current, but develop relationships, solve problems, and grow the business.
1. Read social feeds and email. I typically do this between 4:30 a .m. and 6 a.m. I bookmark articles and media for later use, taking notes on each item. I’ll also queue sharing with social networks and share insights internally. I’ll also queue up tweets and other social sharing with social networks. Many of the tips, tactics and news I share publicly are the things I share internally, except with added insight. Evernote rocks for managing this.
2. Meet with my right hand marketer. Ashley Zeckman is the marketing manager at TopRank Online Marketing, and we regularly discuss all sorts of content, social media, email, event, website, blog and book related topics.
3. Meet with our group of account managers on tactical case studies, observations/insights into successes with client content, social media, email, pay per click, and search engine optimization programs. We also discuss situations that need to be resolved.
4. Review our analytics and reports. I’ve been watching key metrics related to our blog and website for a long time. Traffic, links, search data, time on site, inquiries and other page activity paint an interesting picture when overlaid with external key performance indicators, such as social shares, comments, links and media mentions.
5. Marketing TopRank. I regularly work with Zeckman to develop our online marketing approach and have things tested to see what to adjust for better performance with our own agency’s marketing. Testing online marketing, SEO and social media marketing tactics on our own sites has been incredibly valuable to share with staff and clients.
6. Talk with customers. Every time I talk to one of our clients, I learn invaluable lessons about how they see search, social media, and content marketing contributing to the success of their business.
7. Research and write. Between blogging more than 2,500 times and writing numerous contributed articles, I have found that developing writing skills has been one of the most profitable things I’ve ever done. I’ve been writing a book over the past few months, which has taken considerable time. The process of writing a book is not for the faint of heart, but has made me smarter and more strategic in how I view modern online marketing strategy.
8. Research and presentations. Another profitable investment (in terms of knowledge and for our business) has been speaking at events. The research and preparation for presentations requires an understanding of the subject matter that extends beyond day-to-day familiarity. Packaging relevant content for specific audiences means thinking that content through. The process helps create mental models for explaining key concepts and can serve as a basis for many other forms of content creation.
9. Research and training. Identifying external sources of training such as industry conferences and workshops for our team, as well as building our own workshops, requires thoughtful consideration, planning and packaging. I also provide SEO help to PR agencies and marketing communications departments within companies. Collecting those case studies and examples keeps me on my mental toes.
10. Connect with industry peers. Outside of working with our internal team of consultants, there is no substitute when it comes to gaining high value information than connecting with other professionals that are as passionate and fanatical about marketing and online business as you are.
11. Revisit social streams. This is a later in the evening activity but it’s a good way to end the work part of the day and get ideas for the next. Using Google Reader, Hootsuite, Disqus and other tools, identify any new articles worth reading, cluster them together according to theme and take notes. I’ll take time to focus on mainstream media publications, not just industry blogs and news websites.
Another approach to staying current is to form a mastermind group. I first heard of this from reading Napoleon Hill many years ago and it’s even more powerful now. Find likeminded professionals and agree to connect on collective and individual areas of focus. A mastermind is not only about sharing information but working with each other to achieve goals.
I don’t do all these things every day of course, but it represents a number of the things that have been instrumental in keeping me close to tactics as well as in line with more strategic perspectives on new events and industry changes. Would reading my email and social feeds for 10 minutes a day be a better alternative to free up time for other business tasks? Maybe, but then I wouldn’t be able to output as much as I do or bring as much value that results in better service to customers, a healthier social network and a growing business.
If staying current and informed is essential for your job, how do you keep up to date? How do you make each day a positive learning experience?