The Importance of Ongoing Marketing Education

The marketing field is evolving constantly. Back in the day, marketing relied on gut feelings. Later, it relied on “vanity metrics.” Now, with the help of analytics, marketers have hundreds of thousands of data points to inform their marketing strategy. 

But...marketers need to educate themselves on these changes, or risk getting left behind. Survival of the fittest means learning to adapt to the ever-changing marketing world.

Related - The Importance of Communicating the CMO Role to the C-suite


Why is it important for marketers to continue their marketing education? 

This TED talk is an excellent reminder to maintain a growth mindset as a marketer. It reminds us all to remain curious about the world around us.

No matter the profession or field, learning is imperative to employee and company growth. A team that is not continuously analyzing itself, its tools and processes, or its continuing education risk letting down the companies in which they serve. 

With incoming marketing technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality becoming more and more popular amongst marketers, those who are in the earlier stages of their careers have a distinct advantage.

Why? Younger team members are expected to learn, and are often tasked with “figuring it out” by more senior people on the team. Senior positions that once relied on skill set and years of loyalty may not hold up to incoming talent, who often have more modern marketing education, and are inherently less expensive to hire. And, given that the average tenure of a CMO is less than three years, job insecurity is a major consideration when contemplating continuing education.

It’s not just about the individual, however. Leaders or team members who refuse to learn can potentially hold the company back as well. Under-utilization of available tools and technology that improve processes may impact a brand’s performance and, thus, their market share. 

The Setup staff weighed in on their personal favorite resources to continue their marketing education throughout this blog.


What does learning look like for marketers?

Just like there are numerous marketing disciplines, education as a marketer comes in many different forms:

  • If getting better includes understanding the industry and other brands’ successes, a subscription to a publication like Adweek or Ad Age may be sufficient. 

  • If a long-time CMO becomes out of touch with modern marketing tactics, he or she may benefit from going back to school and pursuing a certificate in digital or social media marketing.

  • Even if going back to school is not an option, there are other ways to catch up or grasp an understanding of everything marketing has to offer. This could be going to classes at one of the many General Assembly campuses or attending a conference to hear experts speak at events held by the American Marketing Association (AMA), Digital Summit, or, even FutureX Live

  • If a social media marketer is trying to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest tactics and case studies, he or she might benefit from subscribing to a marketing podcast like Social Media Examiner Show.

If a marketer could only read one article a week, I would recommend Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief. It is an incredible wrap-up of recent news, remarkable marketing tactics, brand leadership changes, and fun social media content.
— Sam Moran | Director of Operations, Setup

From there, it’s important to get specific. Is the social media marketer studying Twitter to follow the good content from Moz or Hubspot’s accounts? Or is the marketer trying to develop a more relevant, brand voice or marketing strategy on Twitter by following more engagement-related accounts like MoonPie or Steak-umm

Overall, one marketer’s continuing education diet may not look the same as the next. It truly depends on the marketer’s objective, the way the marketer consumes media, and the area or marketing discipline in which the marketer specializes.

Related - The Objective behind Marketing Objectives


How can marketers continue their education? 

Marketers will always be students to the changes around them. They can continue their marketing education by…

Observing the world outside of marketing

Inspiration arises from all aspects of life. Whether it’s a director who needs to iron out a detail on a display ad or a user experience (UX) designer mapping out a website, inspiration about organization or creative can come from any industry or person. Marketers should look in odd places for inspiration. 

By being curious, marketers may be surprised about what skills and perspectives they pick up. 

Draw your inspiration from everywhere but advertising - go to museums, watch documentary films, read comic books...
— Anonymous

Observing also comes with reading and listening to content from marketing leaders. The Setup staff recommends listening to:

And reading:


Having lunch with someone who works in a different department

Learn how other people approach their own challenges, how other people think, and how what they approach making an impact on the organization. In doing so, marketers can potentially work with other departments more effectively, take a few learnings back to their own team, benefitting from the outsider’s perspective.


Going to events

Attending events with speakers who have been studying a certain topic for years will help attendees gain a new perspective, or deepen their knowledge of a specific topic. 

Attending networking events and meeting people with different backgrounds and experience levels helps expose people to alternative lifestyles, mindsets, and ways of thinking. 


Being open to alternative ways of thinking 

Having an open mind is the best thing a marketer can do. For example, Madeline Evans, the Social Media and Content Manager at Setup, draws inspiration from improvisational comedy. Improv and marketing both require empathy - listening to and being open to understand another person’s experience and point of view. 

Related - Being An Empathetic Marketer Takes S.O.U.L

Marketers from agencies and brands function differently, but work best when they are empathetic and understand the perspective of their partners. 

Related - 5 Things Clients Wish Agencies Knew and 5 Things Agencies Wish Clients Knew

Kate Jacoutot, the Director of Marketing at Setup, finds the podcasts “Reply All” and “Hidden Brain” immensely helpful when seeking inspiration. Though they are not always “marketing focused,” they inform the way she approaches marketing. 


Madeline Evans, the Social Media and Content Manager at Setup, likes how Stephen Duneier emphasizes using every moment in the day to better yourself.

Optimizing every moment

Input influences output. So, if marketers are absorbing content that challenges them or elevates their thinking, that leaves the door open to learn or grow.

In other words, before scrolling through Netflix to see the latest release or checking the Instagram feed for the fifth time today, take a moment to use that time to learn something new. Who knows? That something could spark inspiration. 

That said, every moment counts. Whether it's a morning commute, a boring chore, or a bedtime routine, marketers have the option to optimize that moment - to learn.

Every morning while I get ready for work, I am listening to a podcast of some sort. It may not be marketing related - but it’s something that either makes me smarter, inspires me, or exposes me to different ways of thinking. It’s an important part of my day.
— Kate Jacoutot | Director of Marketing, Setup

At the end of the day, a career in marketing requires investment in continual marketing education. That education doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school to pursue a Master’s Degree in Digital Marketing or even a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing at a specific college or university. It means doing whatever it takes to gain the experience and professional development needed to execute the job effectively.

Read Related - Here’s how a learning mindset can propel your marketing career

One way to continue your marketing education is staying up to date and experimenting with the latest marketing tools and trends. Setup showcases marketing-specific tools and useful marketing trends in our monthly #MarketersToolbox. Subscribe to our #MarketersToolbox newsletter for the latest on marketing tools.