Ever considered purchasing a conference ‘recap’ instead of blowing thousands on an actual conference itself?

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As the barriers to opening a business fall, competition increases. We see evidence of this trend every day in new articles worrying over everything from the competitive threat posed by Chinese companies, to the need to invest in culture to maintain competitive advantage.

Related: 15 Free Online Learning Sites Every Entrepreneur Should Visit

We even see barriers failing in the illegal activities being undertaken in the name of success.

Staying competitive comes down to many factors, but one that’s often overlooked, in my opinion, is the ongoing need to level up your marketing team. You may have hired the right workers for the job, but marketing is evolving too quickly for you to assume that those workers are still equipped to produce the results you want.

Ongoing training can mean the difference between your having a company that falters versus one that thrives in this newly competitive landscape. Even better? That training doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider the following strategies:

Conference travel

Instead of: Sending members of your marketing team to expensive conferences, which can easily top five figures once you add in ticket costs, travel expenses, accommodations and meals . . . 

Try this: Buy conference recaps for your team to share. These days, there are people who actually attend conferences for the purpose of preparing, and then publishing, recaps that contain all the key takeaways for those who can’t attend.

Related: Netflix Shows Are Entertaining Enough, But It’s the Digital Marketing That’s Masterful

Tim Castleman is one such writer who covers marketing conferences. You can find others by searching Google for “conference recap + [your industry].”

Coaching and mentorship

Instead of: Paying for spots in pricey mastermind programs, which can cost thousands of dollars a month for access to top coaches  . . 

Try this: Form your own coaching and mentorship program based on your internal skills and expertise. If you’ve built a team of star players, chances are everyone has something he or she can contribute to a community learning program.

Start by assessing where your team is currently, and where you want it to be. Ask staff members:

  • What do you believe you’re doing well?

  • Where do you believe you’re falling behind?

  • What would you like to learn more about?

  • What do you do better than anyone else in the company?

  • What skills can you teach others?

From there, leveling up your marketing team comes down to playing matchmaker. If you have a team member who wants to learn more about analytics, match him or her with someone who’s indicated that data is a strength. Create small groups. Allow employees to shadow one other. Arrange “lunch and learns,” where exchanges of information can occur.

As information is shared, document it. DigitalMarketer CEO Ryan Deiss feels so strongly about the importance of documentation that it’s one of the factors his companies use when deciding to promote internal talent:

“Promote those who show an ability and willingness to document what they know and teach it to others. The fact is, processes are more valuable than products.”

Don’t forget to add your own knowledge to the mix. If you’ve been with your company since the start, you likely know a lot — not just about marketing best practices, but about how each of those practices works for your business. That information can’t help your marketing team if it’s stuck in your head. Make sure you’re a part of any ongoing training or coaching initiatives.

Training courses

Instead of: Dropping thousands of dollars on premium training courses . . . 

Try this: Look for free (or at least cheap) sources of information.

Start with books. Most business leaders will tell you that they make reading part of their regular routines. Back in 2012, I challenged myself to read 100 books during that year, and doing so had a huge impact on the way I’ve grown my businesses.

You can get books for free from your local library, or purchase enough copies for your team at a relatively low cost. Read them as a group, then meet to discuss the key takeaways from each of your selections. OptinMonster has a great list of 19 marketing books to read during 2018 to get you started.

Blogs are another great source of free information, though you need to consider your sources carefully. In order to use blog posts to level up your marketing team, make sure that they’re current, applicable and replicable. Avoid outdated information, suggestions that don’t apply to your industry or business model and anything else you can’t re-create on your own.

Related: Great Marketing Strategies You Can Steal From the Most Successful Super Bowl Ads

For more targeted, lower-cost training options, sites like Udemy, CreativeLive and SkillShare offer regular sales and updated materials.

Got another suggestion for leveling up your marketing team on a budget? I’d love to hear it. Leave me a note in the comments below with your thoughts:

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