by Jon Wade
July 10th, 2013

Very many of the requests that land in my inbox from the various agencies and clients I work with surround the subject of digital training.

“Can you come in and do a digital training session with my team?”

“We think we need more training on digital, can you come in and run a session?”

And every time I wonder, what exactly does that mean? Digital training.

Digital is a very broad canvas, you see. To avoid being facetious, I instantly rule out the definition of digital as relating to the binary number system, which only uses zeros and ones to count, the basis of how computers work. They don’t want training on that surely…

And yet, even though these requests relate to digital marketing and communications training, which in and of itself is also a very wide subject matter, the more I ponder these requests, the more I reach the conclusion that having a reasonable understanding of the fundamentals of how computers and the internet actually work is what agency and client teams very much do need to understand. Not at a detailed level for sure, but, at some level. First principles if you like, the foundation on the back of which the rest of the more specialist, applicable, digital marketing and communications knowledge can be built.

What’s the best way to do that in my opinion?

Build a web site. Build your own web site.

Don’t know how? Buy a book and read it or just use the mountains of online resources out there. Google it, Baidu it. Then, write the code yourself. Force yourself to get to grips with servers, domains, images, text, HTML, CSS. Try out a little bit of JavaScript too (if you’re brave). See what you can teach yourself first. Before getting into the complicated stuff, like paid search and display advertising, email marketing, mobile and social media.

By undertaking a little self-study, the benefit of attending a digital training session run by an expert with many years of digital marketing and communications experience will be multiplied. For a start, you might understand what on earth he or she is talking about. And you’ll see the relevance to your role and expertise much more readily.

We’re in the process of preparing a whole digital training syllabus for our staff across CMG’s group of agencies as well as their client partners. We’ve identified 36 topics which we think are relevant for everyone to have a good understanding of digital communications. From website analytics, to search audits to digital videography to RFID infrastructure and beyond. But all these sessions, all this knowledge and experience imparted, will be for nought without a good understanding of the basics.

You wouldn’t expect to become an authority on PR, say, without an understanding of the fundamentals of marketing communications on which to build. The same logic applies when wanting to develop expertise in digital communications without an understanding of computers.

This doesn’t have to be a huge personal time investment. You don’t have to turn into a geek overnight. You don’t even have to be any good at it, but you do need to understand what IT, the computer, is. How they talk to each other, how the internet works and what a browser is and does (and doesn’t do). Upon these foundations, everything else can be built through training and experience.

Jon Wade is head of digital, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick.

This article first appeared on the ClickZ Asia website

To receive our updates: