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How to develop the skills you need to be a t-shaped marketer

Written by Jack Cribb

02 | 04 | 20

Inbound marketing  |  
5 minute read

T-shaped marketers are the next generation of marketing specialists. They’re able to specialise in one form of marketing but offer experienced knowledge in many other fields.

Having a team of t-shaped marketers means that collaboration, creativity and experience is shared and increased across multiple fields. This is done through teaching, resource sharing and even helpful workshops.

So how do you develop the skills to become a t-shaped marketer?

What is a t-shaped marketer?

If you know that a t-shaped marketer is, then skip to the next section. But if you’re not sure or you just fancy a refresher, hang around.

A t-shaped marketer is someone who has the skills to effectively contribute in a collaborative manner across many departments.

For example, you might find that a t-shaped marketer has a broad knowledge of various digital marketing tactics but they’re particularly comfortable with a select few, such as writing emails, social media or content writing. Because of this, they can ‘slot’ themselves into any situation and provide value where it is needed.

They could find their specialism in processes such as SEO or PPC, but have a good enough writing ability to create blog content if needed. 

Imagine a ‘T’ shape. The specialism for these individuals is the central column, but their knowledge of other areas allows them to reach out and provide value over a wide basis. T-shaped marketers know enough to implement the wants of other colleagues and executives and can bring a lot of insight to the table.

T-shaped marketers are set apart from other types - the I-shaped marketers and generalists:

  • I-shaped marketers: These individuals have one specialism that they have a lot of experience and knowledge within. Because of this, they tend to stay within the boundaries of that specialism - unlike t-shaped marketers who have one or two specialisms but still have broad knowledge of digital tactics
  • Generalists: Generalists have a knowledge of most fields but don’t specialise in any of them - unlike t-shaped marketers who have specialised in a few.

Every company will have their own versions of these individuals because they’re still valuable members of a team. 

However, in our humble opinion, becoming a t-shaped marketer is what you should be striving for. These individuals can work with agility and creativity. They’re specialists in one or two areas but can still provide key knowledge, insight and recommendations in many others, thanks to their broad knowledge. 

Build your specialism

Everyone within a business will have a specialism. Mine is content. Yours may be SEO, social media, strategy, design or any other of the many skills that make up a successful marketing team.

To build this specialism, we need to cultivate both a deep knowledge and passion for something. For example, I like to read up on content marketing ideas and keep up-to-date with the latest trends on social media. Developing a deep knowledge in a field can help bring you respect as people are able to rely on you as an authority figure. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be leading the way in your specialism for you to be an expert in the area. You just need to build a great amount of working knowledge that you can apply to solve for the needs of the many. 

So remember to do your research into things such as inbound marketing, growth driven design or any other specialist field that applies to you. And keep up with the best marketing blogs going.

Gain cross-disciplinary knowledge

Each issue, whether big or small, your agency or team faces requires relative skill to solve. You don’t need a senior member of the team to solve an issue with an incorrect link on a blog and you wouldn’t allocate a company-wide issue to just one person.

Recognising where specific expertise is needed can help you efficiently allocate the resources and choose the right people to make headway. 

This doesn’t mean you should shirk the responsibility of gaining knowledge though. After all, Da Vinci didn’t let anyone else paint the Mona Lisa for him or design a tank - instead, he became a polymath, the original style of t-shaped individual. We have a vast range of tools, resources and information at our disposal, served up by the Da Vincis of each industry.

It’s about finding people who have broad knowledge in many areas. They create spirited collaboration so that the most helpful, detailed and engaging work can be created. By developing a competence over multiple disciplines, you’re able to provide value when and where it’s needed.

One of the best ways to build cross-disciplinary knowledge or even just add to your specialism is by attending workshops and gaining learning face-to-face. Here at Digital 22, we’re offering workshops where we share our expertise on things such as inbound, sales and automation.

Why not book a meeting to discuss workshop availability?

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Combat weak points

By developing a team of specialised individuals, you can complement your own knowledge and solve in any areas that you may need support. 

Here at Digital 22, I’m comfortable and confident in my own work, but if I need help when writing a blog on increasing traffic to a website or how to allocate marketing budgets, I can turn to one of my experienced colleagues. Plus, they can always come to me if they need help with blog titles or grammar rules. 

It’s all about sharing the wealth of knowledge under one roof.

Developing a team like this makes it ridiculously easy to plan projects and strategies, brainstorm, solve problems and delight clients. For marketing agencies, it’s great if you can recruit a t-shaped marketer straight away, but you must also provide an environment that allows i-shaped marketers or generalists to grow and eventually becoming t-shaped. 

Cultivating an educational, collaborative working environment is the best way to combat any areas that you lack knowledge in. So, what else can you do to enhance our marketing knowledge?

Developing your inbound knowledge

If you’re looking to enhance your ability to market, you’ve come to the right place.

Our new guide, ‘Inbound Marketing 2.0’ is the perfect guide to help you develop any inbound knowledge you have, but it can also be used as the best way to begin. It includes info on inbound processes, important marketing statistics, the best ways to build on personas, handy templates and much more.

If you want to make the most of your marketing efforts and get closer to being one of those special t-shaped marketers, click the link below.

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Inbound has evolved.

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