The Essential 5: helpful, accessible resources that will save you time and money

The Essential 5: helpful, accessible resources that will save you time and money

Welcome to the first feature in a new series called The Essential 5. Each month I’ll share a curated list of five resources that will provide an insightful overview of a specific topic. It’ll be comprised of a combination of books, podcasts, websites, videos, blogs, social media sites, and/or apps. I’ve chosen resources that I’ve personally found extremely useful. 

Unlike our ancestors who had limited access to daily information, our lives today are overrun with facts, figures and stories. In a 2011 article published in The Telegraph titled “Welcome to the information age – 174 newspapers a day” author Richard Alleyne explores the unprecedented amount of information coming at us every day, with all signs pointing to an increase over time. In addition to the endless supply of TV programming and access to all that the internet has to offer, the rise of social media and the documenting of each step of our lives has greatly added to the seemingly endless ‘heap’ of content. And although my great-great-uncle George would be fascinated by what we have access to at a negligible cost, it can be downright overwhelming for many. And, the true cost is seen in the decline of our collective mental wellness.

The Essential 5: helpful, accessible resources that will save you time and money

Therefore, The Essential 5 series has been designed with your most valuable assets at the forefront:  time and money. Each carefully recommended resource can be accessed either for free or for a very small cost. I won’t be recommending expensive conferences in far-off lands (although, kudos, if you can make that happen) or suggest you enroll in a graduate-degree course. Most of us don’t have the time or money to attend these types of learning opportunities, so I’ll be sharing outlets to achieve deep learning through more accessible means. Furthermore, each month’s topic will start with a resource to help you wade into the proverbial ‘pool of learning,’ and it will act as an overview. Each subsequent resource will help you swim out a little further and dive a little deeper. So let’s jump in!

Part 1: Digital marketing

Digital marketing has become a popular and critical component of the marketing landscape over the last 25 years. According to HubSpot, marketing techniques that have been used for hundreds of years are about connecting people to a product or service, and digital marketing is classified as “any form of marketing that exists online.” This includes email, search engines, websites and social media.

  1. [website]. The team at HubSpot does a phenomenal job helping guide a novice through the complex world of marketing through a series of articles, videos and free webinars. When I was in the early stages of starting a small business, I regularly referred to HubSpot because, although I’d grown up using the internet, using it to help me connect a service to potential customers was a whole new skillset. Specifically, I found their exploration of ‘inbound marketing’ incredibly helpful, which is the idea of providing great content to potential customers, to ‘pull’ them into you (versus traditional ‘push’ marketing). HubSpot practices what they preach, and by exploring their website you’ll gain an understanding of why and how inbound marketing is so powerful. Additionally, if you’re looking for specific strategies for effective social-media marketing, this is the place to start. Even if you have some understanding of digital marketing, I suggest getting back to basics by heading to this URL first:
  2. Jenna KutcherJenna Kutcher [email list]. Jenna Kutcher is a self-made business powerhouse, having started her entrepreneurial journey as a wedding photographer. She then became a social-media ‘maven’ and she’s now a prominent business coach. Kutcher turned her Craigslist camera purchase into a seven-figure business before she turned 30. One of her most talked about success strategies is her email list. Building and growing a list of captive individuals, coupled with providing relevant content via email, is a powerful digital marketing tool that Kutcher says is the number one way she drives profits into her business. Check out her blog post about getting started building an email list, and learn how and why “It’s better than Instagram, Blog, and Facebook put together”:
  3. The 9 Best TED Talks for Digital Marketers [article]. TED Conferences (Technology, Entertainment, Design) are where leaders across a diverse range of industries present ‘ideas worth spreading.’ There’s a talk out there for just about everyone, and all recordings are available for free for anyone to learn from and enjoy. This curated list of nine TED talks for digital marketers includes lessons from a best-selling author, an entrepreneur, an advertising executive, a technology writer, a former game designer, a podcast host, a career analyst, and an Oscar-winning filmmaker. With each talk clocking in at a maximum of 18 minutes, take the time equivalent to watching one feature film to instead watch the best of the best give the talks of their lives about digital marketing:
  4. Seth GodinSeth Godin [blog]. Hailed as one of the first blogs on the internet, Seth Godin’s site contains so much superb information, that it’s hard not to feel giddy reading through his short, relevant and poignant posts. Godin is a powerful force in the marketing world, having been inducted into not one, but three, marketing halls of fame. Part philosophical musings and part instructional wisdom, Godin’s blog never fails to disappoint, with sparking insights when I’m thirsty for new ideas. He’s blogged every day for more than a decade, and in 2017 he hit the 7,000 post mark! If the sheer volume of information intimidates you, check out his ‘Best of the Blog’ section, including his most popular posts:
  5. Jonah BergerContagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger – 2016 [book]. From yesterday’s ‘Chocolate Rain’ video to the 10-year challenge on social media to Baby Yoda memes, how and why do things go viral? Viral content spreads quickly and is shared widely across a variety of channels, including social-media sites and mainstream news outlets. In his book, author Jonah Berger dissects the virality of content to unmask this unique form of digital marketing magic. (The power of academic research presented in a relatable voice helps his content about virality be inherently viral.) Berger has developed a system called ‘STEPPS’ (Social Currency, Emotions, Public, Practical Value, Stories) to help determine the word-of-mouth strength of content that will take your digital marketing to the next level. Although the paperback version currently retails for about $20 on, the eBook version is only $3. Even better, reserve it at your local library for free.

There you have it – all you need to know to get started with digital marketing. My hope is that this list will also be helpful if you’re looking for a refresher, or if you consider yourself an intermediately-skilled digital marketer looking to upgrade your knowledge. So wherever you are on your journey, you’ve got this. From me to you, here’s an essential high five!


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.