Digital marketing training? No thanks

bored students used to illustrate article about lack of interest in digital marketing training

I just had some training days I was about to run for an established provider pulled at the last minute. The reason? Only a handful of people had signed up for the course(s) that were to run in central Manchester.

On the surface there appears to be (in this instance) a lack of need or interest and / or commitment (financially) to digital marketing training. And this happened earlier in the year so isn’t a one-off ‘blip’.

This troubles me for a couple of reasons. One is the unexpected revenue hit (and post-holiday too, ouch). The other, wider conundrum, is that everything I know / read tells me that Manchester (and elsewhere) faces a digital skills shortage. So people and organisations should be looking to invest in digital marketing training, right?

These particular introduction / strategy overview days are aimed at people already in the jobs market and focused on marketing (and not dev, design etc). I know there’s lots of great stuff going on in the college or uni level education sector around digital skills of all types.

This wasn’t the feeder / top end of the ‘pipeline’ re skills building though. These courses help non-digital marketers (or account handlers in agency world) or fledgling digital marketers / account handlers get skilled up to a more proficient level. Everyone wants some of that?

So what gives?

  • It could be that the provider didn’t market the courses enough. Without knowing all the Paid/Owned/ Earned routes they used and to what extent, I can’t answer that. But they are a professional, credible bunch so I’m guessing they had all the bases covered. And they have an established brand and lots of notice in terms of when the courses where scheduled.
  • Maybe it’s the wrong time of year for sending staff (or yourself) off to a training course?
  • Maybe the course/s cost too much? (I don’t think so, if I look quickly at some other providers).
  • Could be that offline line managers fear that skilling up junior team members in all things digital / SEO / Content / social disadvantages them personally but also disrupts ‘how we do marketing here’.
  • Maybe the northwest is oversubscribed in terms of short, in-depth digital marketing skills training that’s available.
  • Maybe the understanding of digital marketing strategy / techniques have become so ubiquitous in marketing, that non-digital or novice practitioners don’t need development via external providers .. e.g. it’s all about learning on the job. To my mind that can’t be the case: I support clients with in-house ‘show and tell’ type sessions looking at what’s new in digital marketing or by hot housing one particular aspect – but they also invest in staff re external training.


Lots of maybes there and I don’t have the answer, although I suspect it will be a mix of a couple of points in particular, above.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts: what do you think is going on? Do you see formal, external training of staff / yourself (not students who are catered for elsewhere) as still vital?


I loved this photo of bored students from


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