10,000 hours to be an expert marketer

13 03 2011
Lot’s of people are probably familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, one of the key premises of Malcolm Gladwells book Outliers.  If not you can read a little bit about it here, or here’s a slightly different view.
Basically, the 10,000 hour rule claims that the key to success in any field, apart from some external factors like when you were born, is more or less a matter of practicing a specific task for 10,000 hours. Malcolm claims success in most endeavours requires an enormous time investment, he sites the Beattles (who performed over 1,200 times in Germany before returning to London) and Bill Gates (because he had access to school computers at age 13) as two good examples.
Any way…. It made me start to think what does it take to be an excellent B2B conference marketer. So to put it in context 10,000 hours, is roughly 4.8 years (if you work a 40 hour week and work all 52 weeks in the year). But here’s the kicker, I think conference marketing contains multiple disciplines:
  • Online marketing skills (And I am being generous here grouping email, website design, content marketing, online advertising etc)
  • Social media skills (And I will be generous here and include blogging, social networking etc)
  • PR skills (Including radio, TV, print etc)
  • Direct mail skills (I think you can learn this in less than 10,000 hours, but I am getting side tracked).
  • Project management skills (Extremely generous here….this is a discipline in and of itself)
  • Communication skills (And I am being generous again here grouping copy writing, public speaking, securing team buy in etc)
So even with my generous approach, applying the 10,000 hour rule, it takes (at least) 28.8 years to become an expert conference marketer… if you never take a holiday!
You could look at that as a daunting mountain to climb, but that’s actually what makes it fun! The really good part about the role of conference marketer is that you are constantly learning! And learning is one of the key habits of highly effective marketers.



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