5 reasons to become a T-shaped marketer

At The Digiterati we often talk about ourselves as being “a mile deep” on certain topics. For me, having spent the last few years focussed on Facebook marketing, I’d suggest that I’m a mile deep in Facebook and an inch or so deep across a mile of other social media approaches. What we find with our clients, whether agencies or multi-tasking in-house marketing teams, is that the pressure to deliver on all fronts means that they are an inch deep in everything but fail to develop any mile deep specialisms.

I am therefore delighted  to feature this guest post by our friend Simon Swan on becoming a T-shaped Marketer, which takes my “Mile Deep, Inch Wide” concept a stage further.


t-shaped-web-marketer 5 reasons to become a T-shaped Marketer

Digital marketing requires marketers to broaden their skill-sets and embrace all digital channels that can reach and engage with their audience. This wider embrace of digital skills has been defined as T-Shaped Marketing, which refers to: a marketer that has knowledge covering a wide range of digital tactics and has in depth knowledge in 1 or maybe 2 specific areas.

Two recent example posts have really nailed the importance of T-shaped marketing and both included some great infographics to bring this definition to life.

  • Example 1 – I first came across this phrase from a great post by MikeTekula of Distilledentitled: Building a T-Shaped Web Marketing Skill Set – Mike went into detail on the growing importance of SEO as a web marketing function and how the breadth of SEO now encompasses so many specific functions to assist in creating a successful strategy and team.
  • Example 2 – Rand Fishkin of Moz continued this line of thought and the growing importance of having a T-shaped marketing skillset has within Moz.com as well as highlighting the breadth of skills covered by a marketer as displayed in the below graphic

The Digital Marketing Landscape

Take a browse of the Econsultancy UK Statistics which weighs in at 865 pages (UK edition) and covers the latest trends and market insights for a digital mix including: digital advertising, affiliate marketing, analytics, blogging, search, content marketing, video, audio, mobile, apps email marketing, search marketing and social media. I have not even entertained the granularity of each of these tactics and the various strategic components each one requires to ensure a successful campaign.

Can you really embrace and adapt to become a T-shaped marketer?

By understanding who your audience is, where they interact with your product or service and researching your analytics will provide you with a sound foundation as to what areas of digital you should look to develop your skills within and identify which of these tactics you plan to focus on an in depth knowledge. At the end of the day you can research as much as you like but as a marketer you need to be delivering results and to be seen to be getting things done.

In a previous post, I mentioned the importance of working for start-ups in developing digital marketing skills. You’ll find yourself in the front line – getting your hands dirty in managing and developing strategies and you’ll develop skills in start-ups that you would never learn studying for 4 years to complete an MBA. The start-up organisation should be on your career path at some stage if you truly want to become a T-shaped marketer

5 Reasons to become a T-shaped Digital Marketer

1 – Organisational Integration – As digital marketing matures as an industry, marketers are realising the importance and value in integrating their digital channels together.A recent survey by Econsultancy reported that nearly 90% of respondents describe integration as “necessary and inevitable“. A T-shaped marketer provides the vision and knowledge to an organisation in understanding a number of different digital channels during the integration for the organisation to make the right decisions.

2 – Know your audience – According to Decibel Insight– 15% of website owners base decisions on gut feeling rather than analytics – the role of analytics is becoming ever more important within digital organisations to base decisions on influencing strategy so acquiring a wide skill-set in embracing a variety of digital tactics will become ever more important to organisations as well as how to interpret the streams of analytics data and turning this into actionable insights

3 – Technical/Marketing – The organisational silos of a technical dept and a marketing depts are becoming increasingly blurred, and rightly so. The importance of technical in how to implement changes to a website/mobile that embraces the need to interact with your customer and assist in a search strategy should be inter-twined within both technical and marketing objectives. Likewise, it’s incorrect to think a digital marketer does not need to understand the technical architecture of a mobile or website or how to create a product feed for their affiliate channel.

4 – Digital knowledge – One of the key attributes of a T-Shaped marketer is the breadth of knowledge acquired across digital tactics – it provides and brings to the table an element of creativity within your organisation e.g. Bringing search marketing knowledge to your team of developers or analytics insights to share this key industry insights to your colleagues.

5 – Think and act like a start- up – You need to put yourself in the mindset that it’s a never ending journey of learning, testing and trialling new tactics. There is a requirement to keep yourself up to date with the latest digital trends and tactics that can be used within the context of your organisation or industry sector. Remember there is nothing wrong in being a jack of all trades as this brilliant article explains, especially in the digital world.

Simon Swan

Simon Swan is a digital marketer who has led and built commercial marketing strategies for start-ups and large organisations as well as offering digital marketing training. You can follow Simon on Twitter or read his blog, www.swan-e.co.uk. These views are his personal views and not those of his employer