Liam Brennan, is Digital Strategy Director at Starcom MediaVest. Find him on Twitter: @LCBrennan.

If you've been working in digital media for at least a few years, you will have presented your fair share of Digital 101 presentations. They're a great primer for clients who are in a new role or just need a refresh on some key digital topics.

However, I am beginning to feel that the focus on creating the 'perfect' Digital 101 may be harming client development. Digital education should no longer be a one-off, one size fits all deck, but should instead be tailored and ongoing.

A more complex landscape

Most Digital 101s are focused on digital display activity – banners and buttons etc. There is no doubt that digital display is an important part of digital media, but it boggles the mind why this is still the first item discussed when banner based display is becoming less important as time goes on.

We complain when clients are 'only doing banners', yet this is where we begin their education, thus making it priority number one! We should not make digital display the focus for our training if we are to move clients forward.

However, the digital landscape is far more complicated than ever and it is impossible to teach everyone the basics of all the core digital topics in one session. Indeed, the more we try to teach in one burst, the higher the likelihood of it not all being absorbed.

Teach what is needed…now!

The best place to start with digital education is to think about where the most urgent priorities are. These priorities need to be based on client business objectives (i.e. what steps do we need to take to get the client to their goals) and their current digital education level.

The agency challenge is to find the quickest way to get from Education Level A to Education Level B – whilst still ensuring everything in between is taught is understood.

For example – if consumer advocacy is key to driving the business forward, then we need to tailor the 101 to show how to create/amplify advocacy in digital. So we may focus on social – the landscape, buying methodology, best in show, how that works with other media etc etc – not focus on how to create, buy and traffic display banners.

And that is just the start

The reason agencies like the Digital 101 is because it brings a client up to speed as fast as possible – current work can be comprehended and more complex conversations can take place.

I feel that was the case a few years ago – but not so anymore. The digital landscape is far too complicated and the pace of change is too fast.

We should not see training and education as a one off – but should instead see it as part of an ongoing process. As new technology and business challenges emerge, continue the' teach and learn' process in both longer formal sessions and ongoing methods such as newsletters, conference invites and similar.

Education is the key to both advancing the client/agency relationship and developing digital creds. But we can no longer take a one off/one size fits all approach to digital education. No two clients are alike – so why treat them all the same?

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