How to train a new Pay-Per-Click professional without any ‘knowledge leaks.’
There is no shortage of training resources for PPC/SEM novices. Getting started with the AdWords certification training materials, the Official AdWords blog, Wordstream’s PPC University, PPC Hero’s Whitepapers & Ultimate Guides, PPCChat.co and reddit.com/r/ppc is a good choice. Diving deeper into Brad Geddes Advanced AdWords book will take a trainee deeper down the strategy rabbit-hole.
As agency PPC marketers, we all have our go-to resources for training newbies. But sometimes, sending a new hire down the PPC 101 rabbit-hole just isn’t enough to get them off the ground – the feedback loop isn’t strong enough, or there’s “tribal information” missing from the training program.
How can we shortcut the need for repetition and repeated impressions?
There’s usually a strong correlation between great note-takers and engaged employees. I’m not sure there’s any real causation between the two, but I’ve found some of the best take notes not only about facts and details, but about their own observations and reflections. Learning logs provide a formalized structure for notetaking and a great tool to judge the growth and progression of the learner.
Facts, Observations, Reflection
Ask that new hires keep a log of notes, observations and reflection as they are trained. It doesn’t matter whether those notes are kept digitally or kept on a real, physical notepad. It’s most important that the employee has notes that both they and their trainer can refer to.
Trainer Reviews Notes
The trainer(s) should read over these notes regularly to analyze what the PPC newbie has learned from exercises, the important lessons they’ve missed, and where to fill in gaps. This is a simple way of closing the feedback loop that doesn’t require normal interrogation and “quiz” tactics.
Learning Log Tactics
There are trainees who will prefer using tactics like lists, notes, conceptual maps, and drawings. Not everyone will feel comfortable keeping a Learning Log, so allow the employee to use whatever method(s) they prefer, without judgment.
This tool needs to be an organizational priority, reviewed on a set schedule, and catered to the learning methods of the trainee. For new hires you bring into your agency circus, be sure to brief them on these concepts and explain the purpose behind using them.
What’s your agency’s mechanism for passing down stories? Stories are compelling because they’re devices that resonate with people. Stories stick. Stories are a great method for knowledge transfer, especially for passing on wisdom from more experienced people.
Tell more than just success stories and case studies – pass down your agency’s most compelling client failures. Failure often provides the most valuable insights and wisdom.
In one memorable training session at Iterate, a senior team member explained to a recent hire “keyword-level bids always supersede ad group level bids. The more specific bid always applies.“
I jumped in to explain a story of a particularly hands-on client who we found was making regular ad-group level bids. Our Strategist didn’t like the client’s micro-management, was clear in communicating this with the client, and the client continued to make changes. Our running joke was that the Strategist would allow the client to make changes without mention, as long as they were ad-group level bid changes. The story is funny (if you’re a PPC’er), and it packs several core principles of our client-agency relationship in a format more accessible than the following bullet-points:
• Try to keep clients from making changes in their account, if possible
• Ultimately, driving a hard line doesn’t always make for the best client-agency relationships – be forgiving.
• If the client wants to help and isn’t doing anything to negatively influence our work, let it happen.
• More specific bids always supersede less specific bids
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Remember that time you built out dozens of new campaigns, set placeholders for bids and forgot to change them before you launched your campaigns? Remember when you launched new campaigns going into a weekend and the client fired you on Monday? Remember when you thought you had targeted the Los Angeles metro area, a small area within the U.S., but you actually targeted the Los Angeles metro area AND the United States, blowing through your budget in a matter of minutes?
Stories make PPC lessons and cultural/tribal knowledge stick. Does your agency use Slack, Gchat, Jira, or another project management/chat channel as a communication tool? Build a chat channel specifically for powerful client stories and optimization lessons.
Ultimately, PPC trainees become as good as they want to be. You can’t train interest and effort, you can only give a new employee the right tools and tactics for leveraging those two things. Think about how your agency can leverage learning logs for reflection and sticky stories to spread PPC lessons.