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When it comes to your study of marketing, are you suffering from “information overload”?

Do you find there are simply way too many marketing webinars, conferences, seminars, books, e-newsletters, articles, podcasts, blogs, e-books, videos, and audio programs for you to ever keep up with?

No wonder. As one Yale librarian pointed out, “We are drowning in information and starved for knowledge.”

Buckminster Fuller observed that until 1900, human knowledge doubled approximately every century. Today, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months.

To protect yourself against this avalanche of data, here are my suggestions for coping with marketing information overload:

1) Pick one area of marketing to specialize in. This specialization could be by media or channel (e.g., e-mail marketing, social media), by product (e.g., software, vitamins), or by target market (e.g., Hispanics, single parents).

2) As you study marketing, devote 80% of your reading to your area of specialization. As a direct marketer, I devote most of my study to direct marketing including direct mail, e-mail marketing, advertising, and other direct response techniques. I am interested in SEO and social media, but to allocate my learning time properly, I can only scratch the surface of those topics, not immerse myself in them. I am forced by time limitations to leave that to others.

3) The goal is to become and maintain yourself as an up-to-date expert in your specialty, which again, in my case, is direct marketing. So I study content on direct marketing in depth. I read in the field endlessly.

4) While you don’t have to be an expert on all the other marketing topics outside your specialty, you should at least be conversant in them, especially the hot trends like online video, Google+, infographics, memes, and SEO. So when clients and colleagues talk about them, you can at least keep up with the discussion. I study direct marketing content, but I only peruse other marketing content.

5) Don’t go insane buying tons of information products that will cost you thousands of dollars and you will likely never even read or watch. When you buy an information product, study it. Then you can go on to the next one. Yes, I know what I just told you will hurt my sales, but I put your best interests first, and mine second.

6) Do not feel obligated to read everything ever written on your topic because you are afraid that if you don’t, you will miss something vital. You should “bone up” on a topic until you are at the point where you can stop reading about it and actually start doing it. And then you should do it. You will then start learning not just from study, but from experience.

7) Thomas Edison said we don’t know one-millionth of one percent about anything. Even in your area of specialization, you aren’t going to know everything there is to know about the subject…not even close. So quit trying.

8) If you spend an 8-hour day working in your field, here’s how I would divide the time, at least at the start of your career: 5-6 hours practicing your skill or craft; 1-2 hours studying through reading (and listening to audios and watching videos); and 1-2 hours managing the administrative side of your business or activity (e.g. answering e-mails, paying bills, social media, writing on your blog).

9) Don’t agonize over what to read and save vs. what to skip and trash. When in doubt, throw it out. There is always more coming your way every day to take its place.

Of course there is so much information out there that you could read and study 16 hours a day, not 2 hours a day. But if you do, you won’t have a life, and besides, it is not necessary.

Study 1-2 hours a day…practice or do your specialty 5-6 hours a day…and you will master your craft or topic at a rate that makes you successful and profitable.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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