This is my last marketing column for 2014 and I'd like to say a big thank you to all the NZ Herald readers who have given me their feedback and suggestions during the year.

My first marketing column for the New Year will be published in late January.

I'd love to hear from you if you have any areas of marketing that you would like me to consider writing about in 2015.

Let me finish 2014 with some quick comments about one of the most valuable marketing investments that you can ever make.

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The investment I recommend you consider making is in improving your own skills and knowledge.

I like to think about learning and knowledge this way.

Imagine that there are a large number of key skills that you could learn that could make a major difference to your business results.

The goal here is not necessarily to master a key skill.

But simply to get a little bit better at it.

Maybe you want to learn how to get a little bit better at promoting your business so you end with a higher number of qualified prospects to talk to each month.

Or perhaps you want to learn how to increase the average size sale that you make.

Or maybe you want to increase the amount of referrals and repeat sales you get in your business.

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All these things are easy to learn if you invest a little bit of time.

You can get better at many of these key skills by reading helpful books, attending useful courses and talking with people who are already very good in these key areas.

I personally love to read and have found that I've received many of my best marketing ideas from books written by business people who have achieved remarkable results.

(By the way, if you would like a list of my top 10 favourite marketing books just email me using the email link at the start or end of this column and I'll send it to you.)

Courses are another great way to get valuable ideas in a short period of time.

In a few hours or a few days you can often learn key skills that you can use forever to improve your marketing results.

To pick the right courses for you, start by identifying the key skills you need to learn.

Then do a Google search for courses that teach these skills.

There are a huge number of online course available today where you can learn all sorts of useful things to help you improve your business results. Some are free and many are low cost.

I like to use the 1 per cent rule with learning new skills and knowledge.

Invest at least 1 per cent of your annual income each year in courses and books that will help you to improve key skills.

One of the most valuable courses I ever attended was on speed reading.

In four short lessons I was able to triple my reading speed and I've been able to use this faster reading skill for over 20 years now to learn a huge number of useful ideas.

The last thing you might want to consider investing in is talking to people who are already experts in the skills you would like to learn.

You might invite them out for lunch or coffee and ask them for a few ideas that might help you get better in a key area. (One that they are very good at.)

I've done this countless times over the years and I've been amazed at how many successful business people are more than happy to share some useful ideas if you simply ask them.

You can also hire successful people to teach or mentor you for a period of time and that can work equally well.

I recall hiring a marketing mentor a few years ago.

Within three months I had learned some valuable ideas that I was able to use to increase my sales by a staggering 91 per cent. (It was one of the best marketing investments that I have ever made.)

Special Offer for my Herald readers...
If you would like to learn some valuable marketing skills and get personalised marketing assistance in 2015 I've created something very special for all my Herald readers. It's available for five days only and you can see the full details here...

My key point in this column is to make sure you regularly expose yourself to high quality ideas in 2015.

Look for ideas and people that will help you to improve your skills in areas that can make a significant difference to your business results.

A small investment in learning some new skills can often make a massive difference in your results.

All the best for a safe and relaxing holiday break.

And I trust that 2015 will be your most successful and enjoyable year ever!

'Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old.' ~Robert Brault
Action Exercise:

What skills and knowledge would it be helpful for you to learn to make 2015 a super successful year for you?

Whose help would it be useful for you to have to make 2015 far more successful?