The Eternal Student
Mate, there comes a time in every marketer’s life when he or she thinks they know it all. They’ve been to seminars, participated in coaching groups, bought all the right products, made some cash, fired the boss, and now the world is their oyster and they get to do whatever they want.
If this sounds like you, you’re probably in more dangerous waters than you think, and I can picture the sharks circling you endlessly, just waiting for a lazy foot to dangle carelessly in the water…
I was inspired to write this by my daily run today. I have recently started to go for a short run every day, either before breakfast or after dinner, (whichever suits my schedule better), and every day I can run a bit further without stopping. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know how it feels to make it to the end of the block the first time without stopping.
But due to my workload, being too busy, and several other weak excuses, I missed going for my run for 2 days. I thought everything would just slot back into place, but it’s surprising just how much harder it felt than I remembered. I have no idea whether it’s all in my head, or purely physical, I would guess a combination of the two. Doesn’t matter either way.
And I know the same thing would happen if I stopped studying marketing and copywriting. I’m the typical ‘eternal student’, which I’m proud of after the way I decided after school that learning was for nerds and suckers, and I already knew everything I would ever need to know. (Happy to say I have no idea where the Brian that said that is these days…).
Here’s a sample of my ongoing info-intake:
- Dan Kennedy’s monthly newsletter
- Pete Godfrey’s newsletter
- Every home study course or info product I think can help me
- Phone conversations with smart and successful marketers, emails, etc
- Facebook (Some great wisdom and valuable experiences in amongst the crap)
- Books – I can go past a secondhand bookstore without stopping, if I look straight ahead and floor the accelerator. I always seem to find a gem or two, hard-to-find stuff, and I’m constantly shocked by the tiny price of an armful of books
- Mailing lists – I get on every offline mailing list I can find. Although most folks struggle to get past a 2nd or 3rd follow up letter, I’m always on the lookout for swipe file materials
- Seminars – I still love to go to all the seminars I can, if they’re in my town I’m there, and I love to travel as well. Although I do go more for the networking than the onstage material, there are always new methods and viewpoints you can pick up at an event. Plus a ton of invaluable contacts, JV opportunities and new marketing friends.
- Coaching groups – I am part of a mastermind group in my home state, as well as a nationwide group, and I am always looking for new opportunities in this area
If you can get started with some of that lot, you’ll be ahead of the pack pretty fast. It has been said that if you immerse yourself in a subject for 1 year in this way, you’ll be an expert and ahead of 99% of the pack. Personally I prefer my experts with experience, but you will be ahead of 99% of everyone else, that’s for sure.
Because most people are mentally lazy. It’s amazing just how little effort people are willing to go to in order to study a subject.
They’ll buy one product and expect massive results. They’ll run one ad and feel dismayed at the lack of response. But as a copywriter, I simply must know every single little fact about the market I am writing to if I want to push their hot buttons.
And I am constantly studying my craft. I’ve been around for a while, I have gotten some great results for my clients, but I don’t dare rest on my laurels, not for a moment. I strongly believe you’re either growing or dying, this has been proven to me time and time again. Every time I think I’m invincible, something throws a spanner in the works. My fault for walking around like the best marketer in the world.
I love thinking back to the time I sat next to copywriting legend Ted Nicholas at a seminar. Can’t remember for the life of me how I got that lucky, but I can clearly picture his pile of notepad paper, sheets torn off and shoved to the bottom of the pile, each one filled from top to bottom with scrawled notes on the various speakers, black ink, written very quickly yet still readable, (Unlike my unique ‘seminar notes’ dialect). Here’s a guy, one of the best copywriters and marketers who ever lived, travels the world, sold something like 6 billion dollars in products for himself and his clients, yet he’s taking down every important point every speaker says.
This is called ‘the principle of the slight edge’. Ted knows that if he picks up one new idea, one profitable strategy, in the entire seminar, it’ll be worth it. Small hinges swing big doors. One casual remark could lead to a million dollar campaign, but only if you’re paying attention.
This is why guys like Ted and other top marketers are eternal students. There is no way a person could ever know absolutely everything there is to know about a subject. There is always someone else who knows more, who has tested more, who has more experience. They don’t even have to know more at all, as long as they know something different from you, you can borrow and implement. Sure, you can watch TV. But make sure you also study whatever it is that you want to succeed at. Otherwise you have ZERO right to complain that it’s not working out.