A cartoon disco ball and Champaign bottle stating the following: "New year, new me!", "I love resolutions!", and "Invest in yourself!"

Marketing people often begin their Q4 planning with questions like: “What worked for us this year, and what didn’t?” While many of us take time to answer these questions for our businesses, we don’t always consider our personal growth.

For example, there have likely been times throughout the year when you were working on a project or a task and thought to yourself, “Wow, I wish I knew more about X, but I’m too busy to dig into that right now.” Maybe you’re curious about generative AI, what your colleagues in other roles do, or what your customers really want.

Instead of doing what you’ve always done — and shying away from opportunities to accomplish more — why not make a New Year’s resolution to invest in yourself as a marketer? Taking just a little time to learn about the things you wanted to know last year is a great way to set yourself up for success in 2024.

Personal Development Is Easier Than Ever

Although many people talk about how complicated the marketing industry has become, there are many more resources available for mastering it than in the past. These include webinars, podcasts, training courses from services like HubSpot Academy and Salesforce, plus free training available from other sources. If you’re super busy (who isn’t?), you can even find quick training courses you can knock out in 30 minutes or less.

You can also learn a lot from the many high-quality marketing blogs published online. Not sure where to start? Ask friends or colleagues who know more about the topic you want to explore. They’re likely to have suggestions about great bloggers or experts whom you can follow on LinkedIn.

And while it can be hard to step away from your day-to-day responsibilities, attending at least one professional conference each year can prove to be very beneficial.

Why Learn More?

You can probably come up with a list of things you’d like to know more about in just a few minutes of reflection. But why take the time? We’re all busy with myriad aspects of projects and deadlines.

The simple answers are that you’ll know more, feel more empowered, and be more productive. More specifically, you’ll enjoy benefits like these:

Greater confidence

Few things can help you overcome self-doubt and uncertainty more effectively than learning new skills. Knowing that you can talk to clients or tackle tough questions on your own will not only boost your confidence, but also motivate you to want to learn more.

You’ll be a resource for your colleagues (and yourself)

Knowing more can help you to work more efficiently and save time for your internal teams. If you’ve invested a little time in learning about a topic, you’re more likely to have the answers you need — rather than having to ask a colleague or do research at a more critical time. And if you hit a slow period, you may also be able to pitch in and help others.

Work better with other teams

Learning how other teams in your company do their jobs is a great way to find more efficient ways to work together. 

When I worked on an in-house marketing team, I would sit with a salesperson once a month and just listen to their cold calls. Hearing how they wrestled pitching for business was eye-opening for me. They would say things I hadn’t thought of. I also got to hear customer feedback, which helped me to understand what they cared about and (more importantly) what they didn’t. 

Even though this sort of thing isn’t “standard” for a marketing role, it’s important for marketing people to understand the jobs of the sales teams they support. In addition to promoting closer alignment between the two teams, it also makes your messaging more effective. Everyone wins!

Product training is another great source of insight. Of course you want to understand the “top five benefits”, but it’s also helpful to see how products work and hear customer comments. Sometimes you’ll discover common questions or concerns that can help close sales faster if they are answered earlier in the marketing cycle.
These are just two examples of how getting to know a little bit more about other teams can help you improve your efforts and cross-functional efficiency. You may never become an expert web developer or analytics researcher, but understanding how those teams work may enable you to communicate more efficiently with your colleagues or marketing agency.

This kind of interaction can also help other teams feel more aligned and supported, making them more likely to buy into the strategies the marketing team is developing. The better you understand them, the more likely they’ll want to understand you.

Get out of your box

Even if you’re at a very high level career-wise, it can be dangerous to get stuck in that: “I know everything, I’ve already done it 150 times” mindset — or worse, feeling like you’re stuck doing the same things you’ve always done. There may be a way to do your job easier or better, or get better results, if you’re open-minded enough to learn about other approaches.

Keep pace with change

There will always be new learning opportunities in marketing. Even if you think you know everything, best practices may have changed since you first learned them.

Staying open-minded about the experiences of others whom you trust or work with can be extremely valuable. You may discover that there are alternate ways to do things, or new ways. For example, experts estimate that Google changes its search algorithm somewhere between 500 and 600 times per year. If you’re still thinking about the way digital marketing used to work, you could be missing out on a lot of great opportunities.

But I Don’t Have Time!

Time is always a concern, especially when priorities shift. Although your self-developmental efforts also need to be a priority, they don’t have to be huge to have an impact. What’s more, the time you invest now could easily be time you’ll save later.

There will always be little “pockets” of time that you can fill with something small. It could be as simple as listening to a podcast during your commute or those 15 minutes between meetings when you weren’t likely to accomplish anything productive. 

Self-development can also be scheduled into your week at a specific time, or used as a way to take a break when you’re up against a roadblock and feeling frustrated. 

Making a Plan — And Sticking With It

Most New Year’s resolutions are quickly abandoned or forgotten, so here are a few useful strategies to help keep you on track:

  • Create a personal “content calendar” — Start the year by writing down what you want to learn and making a list of resources. These could be podcasts, white papers, blogs, websites, training courses or other sources. That way, when you have a bit of time available, they’ll be handy and ready to go. Try to be as specific as possible when setting your goals.
  • Get an “accountability buddy” — Working out at the gym is easier when you have a partner, and self-development is no different. You can apply the same idea by finding ways to share information with a buddy in your organization or a colleague in a similar role and hold each other accountable. You may find yourself saying you didn’t achieve your self-development goal this month, yet be inspired if your buddy did. You can also exchange resources if one of you discovers something that relates to the other’s priorities. Be flexible with each other — everybody gets busy and chaotic — but just touching base regularly can keep you both from falling off the train.
  • Reach out to the experts in your life — Utilize internal or external resources as mentors. A few years ago, one of our agency copywriters made a point of getting some pointers from a more senior writer who was about to retire. If you’ve never worked on a particular type of project, someone else who has could save you steps just by saying, “Don’t do X or Y; do Z instead.” 
  • Look for support from your company — Your self-development is in your organization’s best interest, especially if it increases your productivity and motivation. For this reason, many employers are willing to reimburse their workers for conferences, training and even continuing education. Find out what’s available to you and take advantage of it.

Measuring Your Success

Self-reflection is the best way to understand where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. At the end of each quarter, go back and look at what you set out to do and compare it to what you’ve accomplished. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you review your progress. Even little successes matter, and they add up. Don’t give up if you didn’t do something groundbreaking or attend a giant conference in New York City. Celebrate each success, however small, and resolve to keep your momentum going.