This week on #bufferchat, we talked about the concept of the “T-Shaped Marketer” and explored what it means to be T-shaped, the kinds of skills that make a great marketer, ways to level up in the world of marketing, and much more.

Read on to discover all of the awesome insights that were shared during the chat!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and to meet hundreds of other smart marketers and social media enthusiasts. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone else!): 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (San Francisco time)

Bufferchat on April 5, 2017 (Topic = The T-Shaped Marketer)

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 35 participants; 136 tweets; reach of 965,289
2nd Bufferchat: 154 participants; 1,051 tweets; reach of 1,677,052

Q1: What does it mean to be a T-Shaped Marketer? (Feel free to look it up!)

From Kevan:

  • Here’s our current view of what it means to be a T-shaped marketer.
  • There also seem to be three main components of a T shape: base knowledge, marketing foundation, and channel expertise.
  • A T-shaped marketer can go broad with a number of disciplines and deep with one or two specific channels.

From the community:

  • “It means being a Master & Commander of many skillsets; expert at some, knowledgeable about others. Point being: variety.” @YellingMule
  • “Having a wide enough knowledge base to embrace a growing social world, but having a deep wisdom about the goal/mission.” @bradleebartlett
  • “Having a solid base of experience and a few pronounced specialties that make you stick out in your role.” @AnnaMariaSocial

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: Do you think it makes more sense to have many marketing skills or be an expert in just one or two, and why?

From Kevan:

  • A lot depends on your team size: Small marketing teams = lots of skills. Bigger teams = deeper skills.
  • I tend to advise people to choose two or more channels to go deep with — and for the channels to be unique combos.
  • Generalist or craftsperson? We’ve had this debate a lot. I like both! Usually build w/ generalists first, then craftspeople.

From the community:

  • “Many! It’s more than your individual output. It’s understanding & collaborating seamlessly with a diverse team and vendors.” @ARoberts021
  • “The more you know about marketing the better equipped you’ll be. That said, it’s good to have 1 or 2 areas where you excel.” @SanabriaJav
  • “You need to have a toolbox of skills and know when to use the right tools. But you may have to buy-in some expertise too.” @stayingaliveuk

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What is good “base knowledge” to have as a marketer that isn’t specific to marketing?

From Kevan:

  • I’ve found psychology and storytelling to be awesome skills, no matter the job (marketing or not).
  • Research is great base knowledge to have for any job. And the way I see it … Research = curiosity.

From the community:

  • “Interpersonal skills, being proactive, the ability to multi-task and most importantly, how to pronounce GIF.” @Tweet_Cheyenne
  • “English composition! Grammar, sentence structure, spelling and the like. Surprising how many #marketing typos we still see.” @kathryndlewis
  • “The ability to connect at a human level with other people, both with others and others TO one another. Requires #empathy.” @garymcintire

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: What marketing foundation skills do you feel that all marketers should have, regardless of role?

From Kevan:

  • Marketing skills for everyone: content creation, data, writing, CX, coding, and funnel knowledge.
  • It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.” Important that you know where to look, if not what to do.
  • If I had to pick one marketing skill that’s most important for a Buffer marketer? Probably writing. It’s everywhere.

From the community:

  • “Either learn color theory or become good friends with someone who knows it! What we “like” isn’t always what works.” @MeredithGould
  • “Basic design skill, AB Testing (flexibility, experimentation, understanding data) + Copywriting (money words, SEO).” @kiza_design
  • “Ability to identify the pain point of customers!” @princessdhruva

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What do you see your marketing career path looking like?

From Kevan:

  • I love that there’s more conversation around Individual Contribution and Management. I naturally lean toward IC.
  • One thing I’ve done (accidentally) is not plan a career path but rather embrace opportunities as they arise.
  • What matters most to you? I’ve seen this impact career path, e.g. if you personal growth, relationships, titles, pay, etc.

From the community:

  • “My long term goal is to make it on those lists of marketing influencers. I want people to trust my advice so I can help.” @MktgInnovator
  • “My marketing path is all about writing — it’s a talent that can weather any storm whether it’s digital or traditional.” @howveryheather
  • “Good question. Right now, my marketing skills are heading in the direction of accessibility so maybe #inclusion marketing?” @markdeafmcguire

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: What are great ways to “level up” in a marketing role? Any strategies, tips or resources to share?

From Kevan:

  • I level up fastest when I have a project to do that requires new skills. So … saying “yes” (within reason)!
  • I’ve found the 70/20/10 ratio helpful: 70% of your time on what you know, 20% on improving, 10% on brand new.
  • For resources, I tend to glom onto favorite blogs and books. (For writers, I HIGHLY recommend ).
  • Fun tip: If you want to learn something, ask an expert. It forces you to learn enough to know how/what to ask.

From the community:

  • “Constantly experimenting on your own side projects (blog, social channels) so you can do it better on your daily job.” @katairobi
  • “Equally as important as consuming relevant materials is sitting down to reflect and process what you learned.” @KristeenOnline
  • “Say YES to opportunities as they arise. Or create them by asking. Show initiative.” @JessOB1kenobi
  • “Ask. Communicating with your leadership about your want to learn and do more is the best step to ‘leveling up’.” @MWestMillennial
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask your managers what skills your agency is looking for. If you’re filling voids, you’ll rise quickly.” @JuiceboxCA

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: What advice would you offer people who want to transition into a marketing role for the 1st time?

From Kevan:

  • For new marketers: Don’t plan your career. Embrace opportunities as they arise. Be curious. Be flexible. Be eager.
  • If there’s a channel you’re passionate about, go deep. But don’t forget the rest of your T shape.

From the community:

  • “Marketing is not about your product. It’s about the people who could buy your product.” @jorgealvarez
  • “Learn all you can about your audience. Experiment with strategies. Make great content. Have fun with it.” @smouldemort
  • “Listen, bring solutions to the table, know the business, and ask a lot of questions.” @joealongifx

See all the great answers to question 7 here!


Thank you so much to Kevan and to everyone who shared their wisdom and insights in this chat!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!

  • Dhruva Gandhi

    Thanks for mentioning me in your buffer recap! ❤