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Sep

23

2013

The T-Shaped Marketing Team: Buzzword, or Best Practice?

Inbound Marketing

T-shaped marketing teams are becoming necessary due to the complexity of today’s marketing responsibilities. Basic SEO is no longer enough to ensure that all-important first page slot on Google and having one-post-a-week a blog won’t bring enough visitors to your site. Your marketing must encompass much more than that.

Skill Set for Today’s Marketer

Rand Fishkin has enumerated the following skills a successful marketer must have.

  • Email
  • PPC
  • Display
  • Video
  • HTML
  • UX
  • SEO
  • Social
  • Community
  • Blogging
  • Content

However, Mike Tekula of Distilled notes it is impossible for one person to hold mastery of all this. Therefore, you must fashion the T-shaped marketing team.

Defining the T

T-shaped refers to the length and breadth of an individual’s (or team’s) skillset.

Marketing T Shape Team

The intent is to show that everyone on the team is familiar with all these practices and how they fit together and how each individual contributes his or her expertise to the whole.

This isn’t to say that you will need one person for each niche. There is much crossover and melding between practices making it likely that someone can handle multiple areas. But it won’t be a one-[wo]man band.

Why You Need the T

You want your business to grow. In order to grow, the business must attract more customers which means more marketing effort. Add to this the changes to shopping behavior and you find you need to be in multiple places at once.

Digital marketing gives you that ability but each channel has its own requirements for best marketing practices. Here is where the team approach becomes imperative. Each member takes the message and crafts the best way to present it on the channel they know best. They can also collaborate so the message matches and amplifies across channels.

Keep in mind, as well, that digital marketing is agile marketing. Analytics and testing show you what works and what doesn’t quickly. You need a team to be able to make changes on the fly to maximize each channel’s marketing potential.

Support Your T

Every team needs a coach, a leader; someone to help them pull in the same direction. A true leader doesn’t let his team become stale or weak. The team needs nurturing in the most basic sense of the word.

  • Offer ongoing training
  • Encourage learning across the disciplines
  • Create a structure for collaboration
  • Communicate expectations clearly and often
  • Outline the boundaries between job functions
  • Provide all the tools necessary for the work to flow

Pi is the Foundation of T

Ashley Friedlein of Econsultancy stated in an article for MarketingWeek that successful modern marketers on T-shaped teams are often pi-shaped people. In this case, she is referring to the symbol for pi – π. The top is the same as for the T, indicating a breadth of knowledge, while the two legs represent bringing both the right brain and the left brain to the party. Pi-shaped people are creative as well as analytical. They understand stories and data.

Pi-shaped people on T-shaped teams are the stuff of completely integrated marketing; the kind of marketing you need to do to grow your business. A team approach brings with it the ability to become more dynamic and agile, yet remain grounded in good business practices.

Building a T-shaped marketing team is an investment of effort that will pay off handsomely. It is the only way to fly in today’s marketing environment.

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