You have to feel bad for Batman’s foes.
Poison darts. Smoke bombs. Grappling hooks. Just when the bad guys think they know what’s coming next, they get a batarang to the face.
Batman is rarely unprepared. And he always keeps the competition guessing, thanks to an array of tools, technologies and tactics that cross disciplines.
If you’re not a DC Comics fan, Marvel’s Tony Stark offers a similar example. Stark’s design philosophy for each new Iron Man suit is simple: More weapons in more places. Just when you think he’s out of tricks, his left boot heel unleashes more firepower than an entire navy.
Batman’s half ninja, half engineer. Tony Stark’s part man and part machine. Today’s marketers need to be hybrids, too. It’s an approach we at PR 20/20 advocate in our Evolution of the Prototype Marketer ebook. And it’s a professional philosophy young marketing pros need to embrace.
The Hybrid Marketing Utility Belt
Like Batman and Iron Man, today’s marketing professional needs an arsenal of knowledge, strategies, tools and technologies in their utility belt (or battle armor) to survive and thrive.
But you don’t need special powers to tap your inner marketing superhero. Whether you’re a young aspiring marketer or a seasoned pro looking to update and enhance your skills, Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark have some important lessons for all of us.
1. Knowledge is power
The training montage is an action movie hallmark. Cue two minutes of epic music and cut it with scenes of our protagonist training, inventing or doing something else appropriately awesome. The result? Zero to hero in 120 seconds.
Both Batman and Iron Man went through a montage to become heroes, but don’t be fooled: Behind every montage is days, months or even years of learning, trial and error, and study.
Start your own journey with these essential reads:
- Inbound Marketing by Dharmesh Shah (@dharmesh) and Brian Halligan (@bhalligan). The founders of marketing software company HubSpot explain why inbound is marketing’s future and how to succeed at it in this step-by-step guide.
- The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott (@dmscott). Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott walks you through the essential online technologies and modern tactics that companies need today to reach customers
- The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman (@reidhoffman) and Ben Casnocha (@bencasnocha). Uncertain economic times. Rapidly changing job requirements. Disruptive technology. Hoffman (of LinkedIn founding fame) and Casnocha show you why you need to treat your professional life like a startup: an agile organization devoted to constant improvement and delivering value.
- The Marketing Agency Blueprint by Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer). OK, maybe we’re a little biased, but here PR 20/20’s founder and CEO teaches you how to create a disruptive marketing agency and recruit a team of A-players. Though you might not be starting your own agency, this book has valuable information on how marketing is changing—and how you can keep up.
2. Pick the right tools for the job
Batman didn’t assemble his utility belt overnight. The first Iron Man suit was a shadow of what came later. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the educational resources and marketing tools out there, but many offer training to help you out. Here are some suggestions.
Marketing automation software is swiftly changing the marketing game. Big players to watch and learn from include HubSpot, Marketo, KISSmetrics and Eloqua. These tools help marketers attract leads, create powerful content and set up email campaigns. And the companies behind them often offer rich marketing resources—from blogs posts and ebooks to videos and certifications—to sharpen your marketing skills.
Check out HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification program: it’s free (you’ll need to sign up for an account) and it gives you a solid grounding in everything inbound marketing—and, if you pass the certification test, a shiny certification to boot. Marketo offers a large library of marketing content and the KISSmetrics blog is packed with valuable tips.
The ultimate free analytics engine, Google Analytics is the modern marketer’s Jarvis (or perhaps an Alfred Pennyworth on steroids). The tool itself is invaluable, and Google offers free training seminars. A certification test will set you back $50—a small price to pay for the value offered here. Microsoft Bing’s Webmaster Tools offer similar capabilities for the company’s search engine.
Without tools and technology, comic book fans would be reading the obituaries of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark. The same goes for marketers: the marketing landscape is changing at light speed. Failure to keep up is fatal.
3. Invest in yourself
Sure, Bruce and Tony both have billion-dollar companies with their names on the buildings. But you don’t need a vacation home (or bat cave) to grab some world-class education.
You might, however, need a change of mentality. Spending disposable income on self-education, especially after paying for a college degree, is daunting. But it’s necessary to keep up, deliver value and advance your career.
A college degree is the money down; self-education resources are the lifelong payments that keep you afloat. Here are a few worth your time and money.
Treehouse is an online learning platform that will teach you everything from HTML and CSS coding to business fundamentals and responsive web design. Combining videos and practical lessons, the courses are in-depth and clearly explained. We use it at PR 20/20 and find it invaluable. A Treehouse subscription costs $25 to $49 per month.
- Hubspot’s Inbound
- Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing World
- DreamForce hosted by SalesForce
- SEOmoz’s inbound marketing conference MozCon
Need more inspiration? Here’s a list of major marketing events nationwide.
Sometimes, the best connections are made one-on-one. Allocate some of your budget toward taking interesting people out to lunch or coffee. Every industry needs marketing—and everyone has something to teach you, either about modern marketing or their unique field.
Local chapters of national industry groups also provide great opportunities to connect. Organizations like the Public Relations Society of America and the Business Marketing Association offer discounted member fees for new pros. Member pricing on most events (lunches, happy hours, etc.) is typically lower than non-member pricing.
4. Find your Avengers (or Justice League)
Even Batman and Iron Man needed help. Batman had the Justice League; Iron Man joined the Avengers. Together, these teams fought the battles that lone superheroes couldn’t.
Whether you’re learning modern marketing with like-minded individuals, conducting informational interviews or vetting a potential employer’s culture, people matter more than the pay, perks or position. They’ll be the ones who push you forward, support you when you fail and make your work experience exceptional.
Superheroes need allies, friends and mentors. These people aren’t just helpful resources—they actively make the protagonist better. Seek them out at any cost.
And in the meantime: Live every day like you’re Tony Stark.