T-shaped marketer: Four steps to becoming one in 2021
A T-shaped digital marketer has knowledge and experience in several marketing domains but is savvy in one particular type of marketing. Here are four steps that you can follow to become a T-shaped marketer.
Table of contents
- Rise of T-shaped marketer
- Working for a big company, a small company, or starting your own thing
- Successful marketers have a broad knowledge
- What is a T-shaped marketer?
- Why should I be a T-shaped marketer?
- An example of a T-shaped content marketer
- Why t-shaped marketers are essential
- How to become a T-shape marketer
Rise of T-shaped marketer
Over the last decade, the rise in marketing popularity has resulted in huge opportunities for digital marketers. One reason for the growth of digital marketing is that there are so many different ways to reach your audience online.
For example, you can reach your audience through Google search ads, using tracking cookies on your website to retarget visitors through display and social media ads. You can capture their email address through some offer, and enter them into a sequence of emails to keep them engaged with you.
Digital marketing has many fields. If you’re entering the marketing industry, you now have so many different marketing streams to choose from. Here are the different types of digital marketing you could choose to specialize in:
- Pay-per-click advertising or PPC ads
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Web development
- Influencer marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- and much more.
With so many options to choose from and so many tools in each stream of marketing, how do you decide which digital marketing stream you want to specialize in?
Here’s the catch. When a company puts together a marketing strategy, it will most likely include many of the marketing streams mentioned above. To use a more traditional marketing term, this would be called a companies marketing mix.
Working for a big company, a small company, or starting your own thing
Suppose you join a larger company with an established marketing strategy; you may take on just one of those forms of marketing. On the other hand, if you enter a smaller company like a startup or start your own business, you may be a marketing team of one. That means you have the privilege of doing it all.
Don’t get overwhelmed.
One of the great things about living with the internet is that you can learn just about anything online. There are so many online courses and podcasts to learn from. Additionally, you’re surrounded by marketing every day, so you already have some experience to draw from.
Successful marketers have a broad knowledge
The important point to make clear is that any successful marketer will have some knowledge in all areas of marketing. You’ll need to know something about all forms of marketing because it isn’t a siloed industry. They won’t be an expert in all these areas, but successful marketers usually have a stream they focus most of their time on.
What is a T-shaped marketer?
A T-shaped digital marketer has knowledge and experience in several marketing domains but is savvy in one particular type of marketing. They may be a great content marketer who understands all the ins-and-outs of creating great content. But they can also understand how to get that content out to their audience through different channels like social media, email, and pay-per-click ads.
Why should I be a T-shaped marketer?
These marketers can enter any marketing team or company and be able to execute several different marketing strategies. They are adaptable and an asset to their team.
Confused? Imagine the letter “T.” The top horizontal bar of this “T” represents the different abilities of a digital marketer. The vertical bottom stem of this “T” represents the depth of expertise that the digital marketer has in each of their abilities. T-shaped digital marketers have extensive knowledge in one domain of digital marketing and sufficient experience in other areas that support it.
A jack of all trades and a master of one
In other words, a T-shaped digital marketer is both a jack of all trades and a master of one. It’s the best of both worlds.
An example of a T-shaped content marketer
Going back to the example above, our content marketer is an expert in telling their customers’ stories. To make sure their content resonates with their target audience, the content marketer also understands website development, analytics, and SEO. Their knowledge of analytics can help the marketer understand their website’s user behaviours, the effectiveness of previously posted content, and ad copies.
Understanding SEO also helps our content marketer. To leverage their content to grow their audience, they need to conduct keyword research and find keywords with high traffic and low competition. Understanding on-page SEO also helps them create an article with optimized images, meta descriptions, and titles.
Our content marketer is much more effective because they can tell great stories of their customers AND how different domains of marketing can impact them.
This example demonstrates the value that a T-shaped digital marketer brings to an organization.
Why t-shaped marketers are essential
Today, organizations need marketers who will be able to create a strategy and execute on it. Imagine a team of T-shaped marketers working together. For an organization, having a team of T-shaped marketers means that they can collaborate, which will lead to more creativity.
This scenario sounds much more exciting for the team as well as useful for the business. Who wants to work in silos? Why not work together to create truly awesome marketing campaigns. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
How to become a T-shape marketer
To become a T-shaped digital marketer, you first have to experience as many different areas of digital marketing as you can. This way, you start to grow the breadth of knowledge necessary and find the area you enjoy the most.
Relax; you don’t have to decide what your specialty is right away
The great thing about being a T-shaped marketer is you don’t have to decide right away what your specialty will be. Find opportunities to work with PPC ads, SEO, content marketing, copywriting, social media, website development, and other essential areas to a winning digital marketing team.
Step one: start learning online
Start to learn about different domains of marketing online by taking free courses. In addition to online learning, consume educational content in digital marketing. Here’s a list of great digital marketing podcasts.
A common area where people start learning about digital marketing is online ad managers. You can easily start your own ad manager on Facebook or Google to explore how they work. You can expand your skills by learning to write compelling ad copy when you create ads. Additionally, by learning to interpret analytical data, you’ll be able to judge the success of any campaigns you run.
Step two: learn how to use growth hacking tools
Develop growth hacking skills by learning various ad spy tools, tracking competitors’ ad data, which can help you create ads that can beat your competition.
Neil Patel has a great article with 35 different growth hacking tools that you can use.
Step three: start looking for opportunities
As you utilize different domains of marketing, you’ll gain more confidence in using those skills. This, in turn, will make you an eligible candidate for more opportunities. It’s no secret that a T-shaped marketer would compete for higher wages than an average marketer.
One of the best ways to quickly build a T-shaped marketer’s skills is to work for startups where you’ll tackle all areas of marketing. However, finding such job roles isn’t always easy, especially for entry-level employees, as these roles demand considerable experience.
Step four: gain real-world experience by working with mentors
In such a case, an easier way to gain experience and become a t-shaped marketer is to try a digital apprenticeship. An apprentice works on different aspects of a marketing project in digital apprenticeships simultaneously under a competent mentor. As a digital apprentice, you’ll learn various marketing domains and receive mentorship from founders and business owners. The mentorship you receive can also build your professional network, which is important to finding future opportunities.
Become a T-shaped marketer by completing an apprenticeship
At Acadium, we match online business owners with aspiring digital marketers for three-month remote apprenticeships to help them launch or grow their careers in a rapidly changing job market.
Our apprenticeships offer accessible training for anyone to launch their careers with no prior experience.
Starting your career in digital marketing can be a daunting and overwhelming journey. Don’t let that stop you from joining an industry that offers variety, excitement, and endless growth opportunities. Check out The complete guide to starting a career in digital marketing if you want to get everything you’ll need for your journey.
How to be an apprentice that exceeds expectations
Your Acadium apprenticeship is for you to gain experience. Take the time to communicate with your mentor, and get the most out of your mentorship. You never know when they might be hiring in the future. 👀
Vibeke Foss’ advice for early entrepreneurs and freelancers
Vibeke foss is a female entrepreneur, owner of Gorgeous Geek, a web design and online business consulting in Spain, and a mentor at Acadium. By connecting with Vibeke, I got the chance to ask her about her experience as a solopreneur for six years and what advice she has for young entrepreneurs or those who want to start a career as a freelancer or digital nomad.