The T-shaped Marketer: A Concept for Successful Marketing Teams
Marketing encompasses many different fields, which one person alone can’t possibly master. The various areas are also constantly evolving. New methods, insights and tools are constantly emerging, so as a marketing expert you actually have to constantly update your education. The idea of the “T-shaped marketer” can help here. In this article, we sum up what this concept is all about, how you can implement it and what you should pay attention to.
What’s it all about?
The idea behind the T-shaped marketer is that marketers should offer a mix of generalisation and specialisation. It combines broad basic knowledge with in-depth expert knowledge in a few areas. The aim is to be able to think without blinders on despite your specialisation and to stay open to new ideas. This allows marketing teams to meet the ever increasing demands on their profession even better, because further education only covers a few very specific areas, while solid basic knowledge is sufficient in other areas. In those areas it’s enough if you keep yourself up to date with the most important innovations.
The skills of the T-shaped marketer
The success of a team of T-shaped marketers rests on three pillars. If every member takes these to heart, it positions the entire marketing department well for future challenges:
- General basic knowledge
This is useful knowledge outside of the classic marketing business, but that still helps you to get your work done and everyone in the team should have. This includes, for example, the basics of behavioural psychology. If you want to convey messages to people and encourage them to take action, it doesn’t hurt to know why they do things the way they do. Storytelling - the construction or telling of stories - as well as correct handling of data and what can be inferred from it are also helpful skills. An eye for design, basic knowledge of branding and good communication skills don’t hurt either.
- Basic marketing knowledge
Every member of the marketing team should have basic knowledge with a breadth that’s helpful for day-to-day business. Since marketing is primarily about conveying messages, every team member should have good writing skills and at least be able to produce simple design elements themselves. Knowledge of the sales funnel (how does a website visitor become a customer?) and the customer journey, i.e. which cycles a potential customer goes through before they actually buy something, is also useful.
- Special expertise
Everyone in the team should have particularly deep knowledge in one or two special areas, which ideally complements the skills of the other team members.
The requirements for the skills vary depending on the company or industry and make a mix of different abilities particularly important. That’s why it’s important to individually define the necessary skills in advance. Of course, everyone should have mastered marketing basics.
Does this all sound like pure theory?
The model might sound pretty theoretical, but the basic idea (with a few modifications) can be easily integrated into everyday working life. Of course, the various individual areas of marketing are closely related. Most people who work in this field are also very likely to acquire specialist knowledge in more than two disciplines. In practice, for example, the skills of an SEO specialist are of course not limited to this area. They will also have a certain amount of knowledge in other areas. Likewise, a generalist won’t try to bluntly cover all marketing disciplines with their basic knowledge.
If you were to write down all the skills needed in everyday marketing, you would get an M shape.
The advantages of the T-shaped marketer
- Close to reality
The idea of a T-shaped marketer depicts the actual working reality in marketing quite realistically. It’s not really possible to gain comprehensive knowledge in all areas, but it’s still essential to understand the connections.
Anyone who looks outside their own expertise learns to appreciate and respect their colleagues’ work. They get a feel for the problems and complexity of other .
- Expert knowledge
Expertise is important for professional satisfaction – but you can’t achieve it if you want to be involved in everything at every time. The model of the T-shaped marketer makes it possible to build up skills in a targeted way and promotes becoming a specialist in one area.
- Swarm intelligence
In a team full of T-shaped marketers, there are intersections in the specialist knowledge of the various members. If a problem needs solving, several people can be involved, not just one specialist. Colleagues can also work in each others’ roles if someone gets sick or is on holiday. If a team consists only of technical experts, on the other hand, no one can intervene in a colleague’s important processes when they need to.
How to find your main focus
Finding a main focus for which you will acquire long-term knowledge requires some time and especially self-reflection. When looking for the right specialty that you can successfully tap into, you should ask yourself three questions:
- What am i good at?
- What do I enjoy?
- What does my team need?
It will be much easier for you to acquire knowledge in an area that you’re interested in and can understand. You become especially exciting for potential clients or teams when you can combine two areas in your expertise that are otherwise difficult to find in a marketer.
In order to be successful as a generalist, it’s important not to engage in silo thinking. This also includes not strictly separating departments but mixing them up so it creates a real team. Promote a culture of exchange, talk to each other regularly and also work together across departments. This increases effectiveness in the company and you can learn from each other.
Successful marketing requires insurance
No matter how much know-how you combine in your team: Even with experts you can’t rule out all mistakes. Mishaps such as illegally using an image or a design that inadvertently has certain similarities to another brand can strain your company’s financial resources or, in the worst case, jeopardise the survival of your entire business.
exali offers tailor-made Professional Indemnity Insurances for freelancers and self-employed people from various industries - for Media Professionalsfor in the field of marketing, agencies and creative people, for example, the Professional Indemnity Insurance for Media Professions. This insurance means you’re comprehensively insured against warnings and claims for compensation and can devote yourself to the really important things: reaching your target group.
Here you can calculate your premium: