How do you get good at something?
Golf, baseball, violin, drawing, creative writing, cooking…. how do you get good at those things?
Can you just take a course and then you’re good at it? No. You need to practice at it to get good. A course sets you in a direction, gives you tools. But you get good by practicing.
But what IS practicing? Is practicing the same as doing? Do you get good at golf by playing a round of golf with your friends? Do you get good at cooking by creating that delicious spaghetti with mushroom sauce your family always loves?
That’s the thing. Practicing is DIFFERENT than doing.
When Tiger Woods goes out to practice, he doesn’t play a round of golf. He takes a bucket of balls to the sand trap, and then proceeds to try 100 times to hit the ball just right out of the same sand trap from the same spot onto the putting green. He doesn’t even knock the ball in the hole, he just practices getting the ball out of the sand trap.
That’s called deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is rarely fun. And it forces you to do something over and over and over.
So let’s break down the skills that matter most in marketing:
- Copywriting – the content we write, the ads, the landing pages for our courses, everything designed to be read
- Analytics – knowing what data to track, looking at those results, interpreting the results, making changes based on the data
- Creativity – An overarching skill that drives us into new directions
- Product creation – Are you creating the right solutions? Are you teaching the subject the best that you can? Are you efficient at this?
- Talking to the target audience – You’re trying to help real people solve their problems, but what are their problems? Do they even understand the real root cause of their problems?
- Can you think of any others? What are the top 5 skills any marketer should have? Reply to this blog post with your thoughts.
Can you deliberately practice any of these skills and get slowly better at them? I think you can. I might have to do a lesson on this when I finish the current course I’m working on. Here are 5 ways you can practice marketing.
1) Spend the most time on the most important factor of copywriting.
What’s the most important part of any copy? The title, the headline, or the opening sentence. It’s the hook that causes someone to want to spend the time to read what you wrote.
Next time you go to write a blog post, don’t just write the title once. Open a Word document, and make 20 different titles. Try rewording the title of that post over and over and over until you found the perfect way to start. You are not going to use 19 of these. But out of the 20, you’ve be extremely happy with 1 and it will be better than the first title you came up with.
I did that with this post. Picture at top.
2) Turn off your ad blocker.
I mean seriously. We’re in the business of selling things online. That’s what we do. If you are blind to any ad online by running an ad blocker, you’re missing a massive opportunity to learn. Most people should run an ad blocker, but online marketers should WANT to see more ads. Yes, please, show me ads. Show me my competitors ads. I want to see them. Because I can do better.
Intentionally seek out ads. In your industry, and outside. Make a regular habit of seeing advertising, and breaking down what type of customer pain point they are trying to hit.
3) Build your own swipe file.
When you Google your keyword, what ads do you see? Which ads are good and which ads are not? Why? Take the ads that you think are the best. Take the ads that you wish you had written yourself, and copy them. Put them in a swipe file for yourself. You want to be the best, learn from the best. Did you write some ad copy that you think was amazing and had an amazing response? You should put it in your own swipe file.
But don’t just copy that and use other people’s ads for yourself. Study them. Rewrite them. Rewrite them again and again. Did you see a really cool Volkswagen ad? How could you write an ad in that same style for your own product? Try it. Study others, write, rewrite, try, and try again. Practice.
4) Get better at finding pain points.
You can’t build products for an audience when you’re isolated from them. You can’t. I’m assuming you took my advice and joined online groups where your target students hang out, help them, and subtly sell to them. That’s the “doing” of marketing. How do you practice that? You need to work harder at listening to people and understand what’s really bothering them.
Talk to your spouse (yes, really). How was their day? What happened? Did anything happen that annoyed them? And what one thing about that is really the core of the problem? What could have made their day better? Or talk to a friend. Or a co-worker over lunch. Or listen to strangers complaining in a cafe. Make a habit of listening and striving to really understand. Not some superficial level of understanding. But how do you go deeper without having a preconceived idea of what the real problem is? If you can do that, you can apply those skills to your existing students or to the online groups where your target market hangs out.
5) Hire a coach.
It’s hard to practice alone. Sure, if you want to get better at golf, you can head to the driving range and drive the ball as far as you can for an hour. But a coach will really identify your weaknesses. He or she will (ideally) look at what you’re doing, and say “you are only doing half of what needs to be done here”. Find someone who coaches people better than you, and sign up for a couple of sessions with them.
Finding the right coach may be tough. Ask around. Get recommendations. But if your copy is not great, you need someone who can be honest with you and tell you. This idea is not for anyone, but every professional athlete has a coach to identify where they need to improve. Should be no different for marketing too.
Copyblogger – The 5 Keys to Content Marketing Mastery
Geoff Colvin – Talent is Overrated