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What is a T-Shaped Marketer?

May 19, 2023 in Business and Marketing

Learning to think and work like a T-shaped marketer will give you the expertise, versatility, and problem-solving skills to excel in today’s competitive marketing landscape. This article explains the traits of a T-shaped marketer and how you can develop them.

A T-shaped marketer combines focused expertise in one marketing discipline with a broad grasp of other areas. They unite proficiency with plasticity.

This guide provides practical steps to hone your niche, broaden your outlook through communication and learning, sharpen soft capabilities, and form a holistic marketing mindset – the building blocks needed to start flourishing as a T-shaped marketer.

What Does it Mean to Be a T-Shaped Marketer?

You’ve likely heard the term “T-shaped skills” used to describe people who are both deep specialists in one area and have broad general knowledge. Well, this concept applies to marketers as well! 

T shaped marketer

A T Shaped Marketer has extensive knowledge in at least one marketing discipline and practical experience in additional ones.

Consider a “T” The vertical line represents extensive expertise and experience in a particular field, such as content marketing, SEO, or paid advertising. The upper horizontal line represents the depth of knowledge in various areas of marketing, such as social media, site design, copywriting, etc.

What Does A T-Shaped Marketer Have In Their Arsenal?

Skills Possessed By T-Shaped Marketers

A T-shaped marketer possesses a few key traits:

Specialization

T Shaped Marketers specialize deeply in at least one marketing discipline like content marketing, pay-per-click ads, or social media management. They have spent years honing their skills in this one area.

Versatility

While becoming an expert in their niche, T Shaped Marketers also develop a wide range of general marketing knowledge. They understand other functions like branding, copywriting, web design, and graphic design, even if they aren’t specialists in those areas.

Collaboration

T Shaped Marketers can communicate and work effectively with other marketing professionals. They speak the “language” of web developers, social media managers, and more.

Business savvy

T Shaped Marketers have a good grasp of business fundamentals and how marketing contributes to larger company goals. They think about ROI, budgets, sales targets, and other factors.

Continuous learning

T Shaped Marketers constantly educate themselves on new marketing trends, strategies, tools, and technologies. They devote time and energy to staying up-to-date.

Being a T Shaped Marketer means having both depths in your specialized marketing discipline and the broad knowledge needed to work across more extensive campaigns. It allows you to lead, advise non-marketers, and accelerate your career growth.

Why T-Shaped Marketers Have the Edge? 

T Shaped Marketers – people with both depth in one marketing discipline and broad knowledge across marketing – have several key advantages:

They develop expertise 

T Shaped Marketers become true experts in their specialized area. They hone strategies and approaches that provide real value.

They see the big picture

With wide-ranging marketing knowledge, T Shaped Marketers can navigate complex, multi-faceted marketing campaigns from start to finish.

They educate others

T Shaped Marketers can translate technical marketing concepts for non-marketers due to their broad knowledge.

They collaborate effectively

Since T Shaped Marketers “speak the language” of various disciplines, they can connect the dots between specializations for better results.

They advance faster

Specialized expertise plus versatility makes T Shaped Marketers highly valuable, accelerating their career growth.

They land more prominent roles

T Shaped Marketers are well-suited for more senior marketing jobs that require a mix of depth and breadth.

They find synergies

T Shaped Marketers spot where their specialized knowledge overlaps with other disciplines, producing more strategic solutions.

Being A T-Shaped Marketer Is a challenging task

Trying to keep up with being a T Shaped Marketer can be challenging! On the one hand, you’ve got to stay razor sharp in your specialized marketing area – constantly studying new techniques, testing ideas, and perfecting your strategies. That alone can consume all your time and mental energy.

But the “T” part means you also have to have at least a basic understanding of many other types of marketing – social media, SEO, analytics, design, branding, you name it. And all those fields are evolving quickly too! So you’ve got to carve out time to learn the basics of these other areas and spot the opportunities where they intersect with your specialization.

Being A T-Shaped Marketer Is Challenging

Collaborating with other marketing specialists can also be challenging. You speak the same “marketing language” but still have different vocabularies based on your focus areas. So much explaining and translating goes on, which takes time and patience.

Then there’s the world of business

As a T Shaped Marketer, you must consider ROI, budgets, sales goals, and other factors impacting your strategies. But that’s not your primary expertise! You’re consulting with finance people, operations folks, and sales teams – all speaking a slightly different business language.

The challenges of being T-shaped come down to these things: 

  • You are finding enough time and energy to deepen your specialized expertise while broadening your overall marketing knowledge.
  • They effectively communicate and collaborate with other marketing specialists with different focal points.
  • I am translating technical marketing concepts and jargon for the non-marketing business world.

But with the right strategies – carving out specific times for specialized vs. broad learning, using common examples to explain concepts, actively seeking feedback from others – a determined T Shaped Marketer can thrive by leveraging the strengths of deep expertise combined with wide-ranging knowledge. It just takes conscious effort, patience, and a growth mindset.

So You Still Want to Be a T-Shaped Marketer?

Look, being truly a T-Shaped Marketer requires focus and hard work. 

But here are some things you can do to start building those T-shaped skills:

Widen your horizons

Read marketing materials beyond just your specialty area. Watch related videos, listen to podcasts, and browse blogs to expose yourself to different marketing disciplines. Look for a crossover.

Try new things

Experiment with skills tangential to your specialization, even if you don’t consider them your forte. Do copywriting, create a primary graphic, and analyze a data report. The more you expose yourself, the broader your knowledge base.

Collaborate with others

Work on projects with marketers in different disciplines. Ask them questions, observe their approaches, and translate concepts for each other. The more you communicate, the more versatile you’ll become.

Pay attention to biz

Read business publications to grasp how marketing impacts the bottom line. Learn about ROI, budgets, sales targets, and other business metrics influencing your strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I build general marketing knowledge?

A: Read widely, watch relevant videos, listen to podcasts, collaborate with other marketers, talk to non-marketers, and constantly expose yourself to new ideas outside your niche through continuous learning.

Q: What skills do I need to develop?

A: Besides expertise in your niche, focus on soft skills like communication, collaboration, business acumen, and the ability to explain complex concepts and integrate different perspectives.

Q: How long does it take to become T-shaped?

A: There's no set time frame - it depends on how quickly you can master your niche, build general marketing knowledge, and develop the right skills. With focus and intention, the process could take 1-2 years.

Q: Where do I start?

A: Choose a marketing specialty that interests you and start learning about it as much as possible. At the same time, expose yourself to other marketing disciplines by reading, collaborating with others, and talking to different marketers. Over time, those two skill sets will grow together.

See also: 6 Best Strategies Of Marketing Segmentation

Summing Up

So this is all about being a T-shaped Marketer. Do let us know what you think of becoming a T-shaped marketer and is it really your cup of team.

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Rahul Gupta More posts by Rahul Gupta