Secret Marketer: By teaching your craft, you can learn just as much as your students

Taking on lecturing roles can be a valuable move for a marketer, not just to bolster your CV but to refresh your own knowledge and have your assumptions challenged by bright minds.

George Bernard Shaw’s play Man and Superman contains the phrase: “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” For years I thought this was true. There is a notion that anybody who teaches has never implemented anything; that is, not done the very thing they’re teaching. While this might be true of some of my lecturers, who understood theory but never got around to its application, it is unlikely to be true for the hands-on readers of Marketing Week.

Over the past few years, I have been teaching marketing topics to early-stage and mid-career marketers. In the past few weeks, owing to bad scheduling, I did the same class twice in 24 hours and another the following week. As I wrapped up the final class, it dawned on me that I could also be doing a better job of taking action and that I needed the class as much as the students. I felt like I was the person that had gained the most benefit from the content.

When you teach, you learn more than the student. That is why the best way to develop a greater understanding of marketing is to play the role of teacher.

Of course, when teaching marketers you have to be on your toes. They are actively engaged and ready to challenge. The more they ask, the more you have to properly articulate your answers and justify your beliefs. Teaching demands that you think properly about what you are saying, and forces a stronger argument, at the same time as simplifying your message. The best teacher can take a complex topic and distil it to easy-to-understand principles. If you are struggling to explain something and see your audience looking at their smartphones, you need to adapt your content, tone or delivery – or possibly all three.

Teaching has worked wonders for the day job. The lesson becomes deeply ingrained in your mind. Every time I’ve done a class, I have left with new ideas, a better understanding and a clearer vision of the potential solutions that can be implemented in the day to day. That is why you benefit more from teaching than the student.

Nobody told me that teaching goes beyond strengthening my understanding of marketing. The big lesson I learned is that if you want to improve as a marketer and move to the next level, consider becoming a teacher or mentor.

You don’t need to be a professor to impart career wisdom, just pass on what you know. You cannot be a good teacher without making yourself a better marketer. You’ll do good for others, and the more you learn, the more you can help others. Volunteer for an evening class, go to your old college and ask if you can guest lecture – that is where I started. “While we teach, we learn,” said the philosopher Seneca. Those who can, certainly teach.

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
Comments

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here