By Nicki Kamau
As someone who firmly believes all people should be actively learning their entire lives, Certification Day is one of my favorite days. Maybe you’ve heard us talking about it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. If not, I’ll fill you in:
For one day each quarter, we set aside our normal operations to invest our time in professional development. Days like these enable us to provide the best experiences and results for our clients, and help us grow individually into the best marketers, web developers, designers, copywriters, and so on, that we can be.
This quarter, we’re not only celebrating Certification Day, but we’ve partnered with HubSpot to create World Certification Day. What’s the difference? Certification Day at SmartBug Media® is experienced quarterly. We encourage others like you to participate and we tout this as part of our culture, tying back to our company value: “Stay curious.”
World Certification Day was born from the success of our quarterly event. It encourages learning within the HubSpot Academy and benefits UNICEF by providing a $5 donation from HubSpot on behalf of every certification and recertification awarded on World Certification Day. It is happening July 10, 2020 and potentially will become an annual event.
If you’d like to participate and encourage your network to join along, use these free graphics. Your influence can grow the UNICEF donation!
Our Founder and CEO, Ryan Malone, started Certification Day to create a company culture that encourages us to always be learning:
What is Certification Day all about, and how do we do it? I’d love to tell you, so you can start preparing for your own future Certification Day. Planning begins months in advance, but that’s not to say it’s difficult. Leadership lets the team know the date for Certification Day one quarter out. This allows everyone plenty of time to block their calendars, move any standing meetings, and plan ahead for client work. Then comes the fun part. Each employee spends the next few months paying special attention to up-and-coming technology and trends, areas that clients might need a little extra TLC in, and identifying topics that he/she can dig into on the upcoming Certification Day.
Our team loves it. Hear what the SmartBugs had to say about one of our Certification Days in 2018:
The Day Of
When we get to work in the morning, which really means when we walk to our desk (SmartBug® has been a remote company since its inception more than 10 years ago), we all open our laptops to start the day. We might be dressed a little cozier than usual, knowing that we won’t be seeing any clients or partners. Instead of jumping straight into meetings and executing projects or running analytics, we all get to take a deep breath and learn.
Certification Day is not structured to be one size fits all. One of our marketing consultants might be looking to dive deeper into growth-driven design and setting out to work on the HubSpot Academy GDD course and certification, while one of our paid media specialists might be brushing up on ABM strategies and technology, and another may be taking the Google Shopping Advertisement Assessment. Each SmartBug gets the opportunity to choose what they want to learn about on Certification Day to help not only provide exceptional service to their clients, but also help them advance individually in their careers.
“The great thing about Certification Day is that it forces you to step outside of your own work bubble and learn about other aspects of the inbound process. In the inbound methodology, every aspect of marketing and sales is connected. The more you know about different pieces of that puzzle, the more effectively you can work as part of a team.
As a writer, I spend most of my time creating content for clients. Certification Day has given me the opportunity to learn about everything from inbound sales to using HubSpot’s SEO, web design, and email automation tools. Although I don’t use these features in my day-to-day, understanding how they work has helped me better tailor content to different mediums and business objectives.” — Meryl Kremer, Copywriter
“Certification Day is an awesome opportunity for all of us to expand our breadth of marketing knowledge, which better helps our clients achieve their goals. Learning not just about inbound marketing but also inbound sales has helped me recommend types of content that help a business throughout the entire Buyer's Journey.” –Heather Quitos, Marketing Consultant
With 80 employees and counting, we are dedicating more than 640 hours to learning in one day, and you better believe we have resources lined up to fuel all of that wisdom. Most SmartBugs will be filling their day with courses from HubSpot Academy—we didn’t become the number one ranked HubSpot Partner Agency by accident! With 16 certification tracks (and many more trainings) to choose from, HubSpot has no shortage of topics covered.
Using HubSpot Academy also enables us to be part of the contributing donation to UNICEF with every certification we earn. For each certification a SmartBug earns, SmartBug Media is matching that $5 donation to UNICEF.
Of course, we have many employees who are only missing one HubSpot Academy certification and others whose focus is outside of inbound marketing, so our learning expands to other digital resources as well. Today, we have employees working through courses on SEMrush Academy for SEO, Google Academy for Ads for optimizing paid media, Udemy for design, ABM University for account-based marketing, and Alison for business process management.
“As the highest rated HubSpot agency in the world, we are expected to be the gold standard in both marketing expertise and HubSpot knowledge. HubSpot Academy is the most comprehensive source for training with actionable insights that are backed by real-world data. Certification Day enables us to provide our team members uninterrupted time to grow their skills.” –Ryan Malone, Founder and CEO
Molly Rigatti, Marketing Strategist
“As someone who focuses mainly on the development side of things, the HubSpot certifications are a great resource to give me a better understanding and knowledge of inbound marketing. As the HubSpot CMS continues to grow and evolve, the certifications also serve as refreshers for various features and tools.” –Tessa Flores, Developer
Joe Gillespie, Senior Copywriter
“What I've learned from leading SmartBug's sales team is that it's incredibly important that anyone communicating with our customers doesn't just understand their pains, but truly understands how we can help them achieve their goals. Courses like the ones HubSpot Academy creates provide me with the resources I need to ensure our sales team is equipped to truly help those who come to SmartBug for help practicing intelligent inbound for revenue growth.” –Jen Spencer, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Chris Hutchens, Marketing Consultant
“Hubspot Academy is a tremendous resource that I refer to often when crafting client strategies. The lessons are interactive and actionable, and really help me focus time diving deep into a given topic. I also find it helpful to continually revisit topics in the academy—even when I’ve already watched a video or completed a lesson, I seem get new ideas and inspiration every time I come back!” — Sarah Mead, Marketing Strategist
What’s the result of having a quarterly Certification Day?
- Paid promotion, social media, and organic search that efficiently attract visitors
- Stunning websites that provide an intuitive user experience, guiding visitors through their own journeys while also educating them
- Lead nurturing emails that turn your subscribers into evangelists
Ultimately? Happy clients that experience the best service we have to offer. This is why, in 2017, we expanded Certification Day from a day that happened once a year to a day that happens once a quarter: To constantly improve the experiences of our clients’ prospects.
“Staying on top of my marketing game and providing my clients with up-to-date information is something I take very seriously. The HubSpot Academy courses that I've taken have been so worthwhile. I've been able to grab key takeaways from any course I've completed and apply them in real-life strategies for my clients. Each course is valuable in its own way. For example, the Content Marketing Certification Course helped me produce content ideas for new blogs for a client of mine! It's nice to have a refresher on general topics.” –Sofia Pompeo, Marketing Consultant
“By completing the Sales Software Certification, I've been able to train clients on using the HubSpot CRM and walk them through all the features step by step.”–Sandra Moore, Marketing Strategist
“The clients I work with love HubSpot and the automation features that come with it, but most of them don't have the time to keep up with the platform's innovative rollouts and updates. By keeping up with certifications from HubSpot Academy, I can stay on top of the latest features and help clients save time, while also getting the most out of the platform.” –Mike Wolfe, Marketing Strategist
“As a designer, it was particularly interesting to take the Inbound Certification because it gave some great insight into the fundamentals of inbound marketing. I was then able to take what I had learned and incorporate it into the various types of content that I design for our clients so we can ensure that the right types of content are being created to suit the needs of our clients and their clients, at whichever stage of the Buyer’s Journey they are.” –Andy Williams, Senior Designer
We’re not telling you about this awesome day of betterment to brag about how cool it is to work at SmartBug (well, maybe a little), but because we want you to join in. It’s amazing to see the camaraderie and excitement from everyone getting a full day of learning in, and it’s fulfilling to hear all of the kudos pouring in from our clients when a newly researched and implemented strategy is two weeks in and already delivering amazing results.
By encouraging the inbound marketing community to invest time in professional development and join us for this World Certification Day and every subsequent Certification Day, we’re striving to create a more sophisticated internet of marketing. A rising tide lifts all boats—now let’s fill that knowledge pool! Will you join us?
This article was originally published in December 2018 and has since been updated.