Specialization or the lack of it can be a game-changer when it comes to succeeding. This is true whether you are talking about unicellular organisms or complex organizations. An organism that overspecializes will fail to adapt to changing conditions… if it fails to specialize, it will be quickly replaced by those who do.
The previous principle also applies to marketing, as no marketing specialty exists in a vacuum. Content marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, product-led marketing, are only some of the areas a digital marketer can specialize in. However, specializing in one without understanding and succeeding is impossible.
Think about a marketer who specializes in demand generation. If they were to succeed in attracting the attention of users previously unaware of the existence of a brand, these efforts would amount to nothing if they are unable to move the potential customer through the sales funnel.
To avoid such issues, you don’t need to gain domain over all possible marketing specialties. Gaining an understanding of several marketing domains is enough as far as you are concerned, especially in one of them. A professional who follows this method is known as a T-shaped marketer… and they are in huge demand.
Jack of all trades, master of…
“Jack of all trades, master of none” has been a figure of speech used to describe those who have gained experiences in different areas without reaching mastery of one.
Chances are you have heard it before. This expression is a reflection of the widespread belief that mastering a single discipline is better than having a good understanding of many.
However, most people seem to conveniently forget a version of the figure that goes as “A jack of all trades is master of none though oftentimes better than master of one.”
Now, apply these two expressions to any profession and seriously consider: Would you trust a doctor that has forgotten all about human health beyond its area of expertise? What about letting a recently-graduated doctor take care of a really specific condition?
With a T-shaped marketer, you wouldn’t have such a problem. This is because such a marketer would be a jack of all trades and master of one: The horizontal bar of the “T” represents their knowledge of many areas, while the vertical shows their expertise in one of such areas.
The benefits of such an approach are many, with the most important one being the ability of a T-shaper marketer to work as part of a team. This will allow any organization to generate more comprehensive and effective marketing strategies.
Go an inch wide and a mile deep
The idea of a T-shaped professional is not an innovative idea exclusive to the marketing industry. Sayings like “go an inch wide and a mile deep” has been around for decades as many professionals have identified the need to serve a specific niche to increase your success rate.
By having a general knowledge of the industry they focus on, T-shaper marketers are able to understand the different aspects of a marketing campaign. On the other hand, their deep knowledge of a specific area will allow them to significantly improve the strategy without affecting other areas.
This is a big deal for an industry in which teamwork is essential.
Even if you are the only member of your marketing team, understanding how other teams in your company work will be essential when developing a strategy. After all, you want to play to your brand’s strengths! How can you become a T-shaped marketer and increase your awareness of other specialties?
Well, there are several steps you can take toward achieving this. Fortunately, some of them will also go hand in hand with the process of choosing your marketing career path!
Becoming a T-shaped marketer
Let’s start with the most important one: Start with the basics. As a professional, it is easy to specialize in areas that you consider and ignore/forget everything else. Remember that being a T-shaped marketer is all about being a jack of all trades.
Going back and reviewing the principles of marketing will ensure you add new tools to your toolbox. However, this step is not only about relearning the basics but also about making an effort to how they relate and affect your specialty. If you are a Google ads expert, ask yourself how landing pages will affect your efforts in that area!
Using online learning tools is a great way to revisit the basics as well as achieve the second step: networking.
Learning from other professionals will now only provide you with any insights on other specialties. You will also gain access to experts who might be able to collaborate with you in future endeavors. Part of being a successful T-shaped marketer is knowing how to gain access to the information you might not be an expert on.
Now that you have set up the basics, you should be ready to go deeper in your area of expertise. Remember that no matter how good you are in an area, it is always possible to improve.
If you did your homework by revisiting the basics, you will find that you have a whole new different understanding of your specialty at this point. Think of this as Neo’s new understanding of reality!
On improving your knowledge and skills in your area of expertise, you will also be taking advantage of the network you created in the previous step. Networking is a great way to keep up with the latest trends and tools!
Finally, it is not only important to keep up and improve your knowledge of your niche but also to constantly identify weaknesses. Did you find out your knowledge of landing pages was insufficient when working on your latest campaign?
Not only should you go back and review it but consider improving your team to make up for this weak point! No matter how big and sturdy a structure is, it can be lost to a weak point under the right conditions.
Being a T-shaped marketer is no easy task, it requires constant self-actualization and effort. However, working toward this goal will provide you with important skills and knowledge that will take your marketing game to the next level.
Organizations are now more focused than ever on finding T-shaped marketers to lead the way when it comes to developing marketing strategies. Think about it again, who would you rather trust to steer the wheel in such challenging conditions as you will find in the marketing ecosystem? You want the most adaptable person to do so!
That being said, don’t take the “T” shape too seriously as it is meant to be an analogy. The truth is that you can specialize in more than 1 area, with 3 being widely considered the ceiling). Being a T-Shaped marketer is all about not being a generalist but neither being relegated to 1 specialty with no knowledge beyond it!
So, are you a T-shaped marketer, or are you looking to become one? If so, a great place to catch up on the latest marketing news, tools, and insights is in my free weekly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe today!