Out of the comfort zone and into the event horizon

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Feel the fear and read it anyway

There are many points of fear and enlightenment on the road to gaining an academic qualification  in digital marketing. As a lead tutor on the IDM’s world class Diploma in Digital course, I watch professionals with considerable experience leafing through Dave Chaffey and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick’s brilliant reference work, Digital Marketing – Strategy, Implementation and Practice, with a crestfallen look. In an instant, they fall out of their comfort zone and into the event horizon that surrounds the knowledge black hole that is digital marketing. Close to 700 pages packed with well researched academic facts and figures combined with practical insight from the world of business. Until that moment, most professionals never knew how little they knew about what it is they do for a living. That humbling moment, however, will serve them well in a world where digital marketing continues to become the ultimate iterative game changer. In this constantly shifting landscape, challenging and testing what we know is a good place to start and an even better place to remain for the rest of our working lives.

Here’s how the book delivered an out of my comfort zone moment for me:

1. The Fifth Edition lands on my desk

2. I begin a systematic reading through the contents headings and sections – knowing this will take many sittings

3. A colleague who scan reads like a Ferrari sees my name mentioned (there is, in fact,  a three page interview on engagement 429 – 431)

4. I am delighted to see my name in print in an academic publication of such import

5. I think about the process that bought me face to face with myself in what Google would describe as a kind of Zero Moment of Truth – Dave Chaffey is a bit of a genius and I have not been paying enough attention.

It’s a crowd sourcing world we live in

Dave’s MO teaches us that acknowledging the values of collaboration and facilitation are key to delivering what our many audiences crave most of all. In return for answering his invitation to be interviewed on my thoughts, he gets the content his audience needs and I am rewarded with a little more of what we all crave: recognition and an official record that pins us firmly into place on the posterity map. After more than 3 decades in the business and having won numerous awards, three pages of printed text in an academic book stirs memories of seeing my first TV commercial air, looking at the response rates on a record breaking mail campaign, becoming a creative director, building my first commercial website, setting up my first business, helping a client redesign a ground-breaking product and helping a multi-national corporation change from being sales-based to a marketing-driven organisation.

My ongoing challenge.

All I have to do is figure out how to keep acknowledging the values of collaboration and facilitation in my own work. As I look forward to remaining well and truly out of my comfort zone, I take comfort in the fact that I will not be alone.