OREANDA-NEWS. September 21, 2016.  My path into the world of software training was not a direct one. I started out in sales enablement, then jumped feet-first into training customers on social media programs before landing in teaching them how to use email to build successful customer journeys. It was here that I found I had inadvertently transitioned completely into the instructor world.

Soon I was being asked to go beyond teaching content creation and move into instructing email data and automation. This was a little scary for me, as I didnt know if data was something I could master.  Although I can operate comfortably in both worlds, I tend to be a more right-brained person. Then there is the challenge in learning technical training when you are a non-technical person. These kind of instructors often have a different learning mapthey can easily jump from A to G in their mind, while the non-technical student is left asking, But what happened to B-F?

In spite of all that, I put all I had into learning all that I could. Ill never forget when, like a slot machine, I hit the jackpot when the difference between a list and a data extension clicked for me. This was the first of many light bulb discoveries that, even today, continue to build.  

I find that I now live to see those jackpot moments in the eyes of my students. When I can whiteboard a concept, and it just clicks for themall of the planets fall into alignment and it is truly magical. And since I have had to learn each step along the way myself, I can then help a student go from A to B to C right through to G at their own pace. Their excitement is contagious, and each class always teaches me something new.

Ive often said that learning is a lot like making a cup of tea. When a concept is very easily grasped, I call this instant tea learning. Other concepts require repetition and time, more of a steeping process or loose tea learning, just like when you brew a pot of tea the old-fashioned way. Im very passionate about helping all learners find a way to accomplish their goals, and Ill use every method I know to get them there.

Last year, at Dreamforce 15, we launched the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist credential. With this certification, users can prove their mastery of the fundamentals of Email Studio, and how data, content creation, segmentation, and automation can power their Email marketing strategies. Soon, people all over the world were proving that they had the chops worthy of the Email Specialist title.  

Since then, I have compiled a list of five strategies that can help you on your way to attaining this valued accreditation and becoming an Email Marketing Ninja (just like me!).

1. Take the Email Essentials course. This is designed to help people learn the fundamental skills of Email Studio. You will learn that key difference between a list and a data extension and why you would want to use one or the other. It will also help you answer age-old questions, such as, Will a data filter solve your segmentation needs or is a Query what you need instead? Plus, you will get the opportunity to find out the strengths of Automation Studio and Journey Builder, as well.

2. Check out the Email Design Toolkit. It offers practical advice on best practices in email marketing, while also illustrating some pro tips on getting the full potential out of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Download the study guide. It will show you the breakdown of the topics covered on the exam, with the percentage of questions for each topic. The guide provides some sample questions you can work through, as well.

3. Read The Email Marketing Rules by Chad White and Jay Baer. Here, the best practices of Email Marketing are laid out rule by rule, in a very easy-to-read format. This book should be required reading for anyone entering the digital marketing workspace, and it will help you to answer test questions related to best practices.

4. Finally, if you have access to Premier, make sure to take the Preparing for your Email Specialist Certification course.

Obviously, real-world experience is a great bonus when taking the exam. There will always be knowledge that you need to know that may not be covered in a class or resource.

But its not all about head-down studying! As instructors, we always like to make our classes fun along the way. Personally, I love to Entertrain (get it?) as much as possible. If youre having fun, youll be more engaged, creating a more positive and motivating learning environment.

So, have you ever played Bear, Ninja, Cowboy? Want to learn 15 different fistbumps, including the Rocket Ship, Make it Rain, Happy Salmon, Parachute, Fisherman, Gear Shift, and Hamburger directly from The Handshake Guy? Are you intrigued at what my high school yearbook picture with my twin brother looks like from 1988? Well, if you take one of my classes, you just might find out...ninja outfit optional.

If you want to see Brian in action, join him for his Email Essentials class, part of the comprehensive Pre-Conference Training agenda at Dreamforce this year and in our regular course schedule. Book your place today!