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Why Marketers Should Give Themselves Pop Quizzes

Why Marketers Should Give Themselves Pop Quizzes

by | Oct 10, 2016 | Blog

(Image source: Flickr)

I absolutely love teaching digital marketing.

The course “Intro to Digital Marketing” has been structured differently, in that I try to keep lectures to a minimum and instead force the students to do stuff rather than listen to me drone on about doing stuff. From my experience (and the research I’ve seen from how physics is being taught in the university setting), there is no substitute for working through problems and sharing knowledge. Experts call it active learning.

(And if you already know the material you’re teaching, research shows you’ll actually be a pretty poor instructor as you won’t see the blind spots like someone coming to the subject for the first time. In Made to Stick they call this the “Curse of Knowledge”. A curse it is indeed.)

To that end, what does a practicing digital marketer do to stay sharp? The pace of change for the industry for the ever fracturing “Splinternet” can leave one feeling overwhelmed. It’s also easy to get swept up thinking that the adoption curve is farther along and therefore everyone must be doing it.

Why Marketers Should Give Themselves Pop Quizzes

But with teaching I’ve found that by constantly having to think on my feet in class in front of an audience, it becomes a great pop quiz.

You can do this yourself next time you have 2 minutes and you’re bored –

  1. Pick a business or product with a traditional analog business model. For example: a free quarterly print journal.
  2. Now, work backwards on how that business can use digital to reinvent itself and its business model. Is there a platform play like Uber? What about mobile?
  3. Focus on value. It’s free – what other ways does it create value? Tips? A community around the content? Events? SEO’d basic content with a Freemium business model?
  4. Force yourself to brainstorm ways to either monetize around that value or create increased market share. Don’t flake out and say “ad based” – that’s too easy and actually quite hard to pull off successfully.
  5. Now, puzzle for a bit on how to get people’s attention. Remember that is the true currency online in this day and age of Facebook. How do you reward them for their time?

I’ve found by forcing myself to explore as many different businesses and look for ways to creatively apply different digital marketing trends that the ideas can really start to flow. Granted, they’re not all practical but with practice it becomes easier to do the same for clients at work.

How do you stay sharp?

Jake Cook


I'm a forever curious entrepreneur that works across ecommerce, analytics, and AI. I've been creating and teaching courses on ecommerce, design thinking, and data science at Montana State University and University of Montana since 2007. Most recently, I've been lecturing and assisting with research and case study development for Harvard Business School.


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