The days of being able to skate by on a single skill set are through. In order to stay relevant in marketing, you need to be a one-person band.
Maybe not quite like that. What I mean is you need more than a single super deep skill that you can do.
Maybe you were trained in writing, which is how you ended up in content marketing. But just knowing how to write won’t help you get hired at the most innovative companies.
There is a type of person that gets hired at places like Google, IBM, Apple, as well as some of the top marketing companies.
These people are said to be “T-shaped”. What does that mean? It means that the person has a deep level of expertise in a specific skill (this makes up the “I”), as well as a set of general professional knowledge or expertise in complementary areas. Maybe you are the aforementioned writer, but you also have a little experience in both coding and video.
These people have both depth and breadth in their skill, making it so that they not only have their creative knowledge to draw off of, but also understand other areas to work as part of a multi-faceted team. Those without that breadth are “I-shaped” or only having their one area of expertise.
So how can you go from an “I” to a “T”? Consider filling out the top of your “T” with some of these skills.
Conducting social research and being able to delve into concepts you may not initially understand is a key skill for anyone interested in excelling in content marketing.
How are you going to know what to say to your audience if you aren’t sure what your audience is looking for? That’s what makes research crucial. It allows you to listen to the pulse of your industry and the ones you are marketing towards (which are not necessarily the same thing).
Learn to use data to find trends. Learn how to determine if research sources are credible. Then apply those skillsets to the other areas of your work. You’ll see a difference.
Writing and Editing
This one is obvious, as writing is at the core of content marketing. Without both writing and editing abilities, you are compelled to hire outsiders to do one or both tasks. These people are likely to not know your target audience as well as you do and outsourced writing often misses the mark.
To write well, you need a little bit of training, lots of reading, and practice. But surprisingly small amounts of marketers take the time to learn to do it well. And then there is editing. Learning to edit well is a skill that some people never learn. Without learning the basics, it can be hard to catch the subtler mistakes that you or the person you are editing makes.
For this, I would recommend taking a look at Poynter’s News Academy for countless free and paid grammar and writing courses as well as a variety of certification programs.
Video Production and Editing
Every guy with a cell phone thinks he can make a quality video, but the reality is that that is not the case. Being able to shoot a clean, beautiful video for content on your website is exceptionally valuable for both you and the company you work for.
It doesn’t matter what industry you work in; people today want you to pitch why they should buy your product. It is more than likely that they don’t want to read about your process if you give them the option to watch a video about it.
A quick Google search reveals a plethora of options to get started on learning to edit videos. Most of them are paid but it is well worth it to create a video that you can be proud of.
Please, don’t shrink away in fear or stop reading. In the world of the internet, EVERYONE needs even a small amount of coding experience. Even if it is just a dash of HTML to create a divider (<hr/>) in your blog post, code is important. You don’t even need to be able to build a website, you just need to be able to go in and fix a formatting issue in your blog post. All this requires is a cursory understanding of code. And there are so many resources out there for learning exactly as much code as you want to.
Check out Codecademy, where you can learn a surprising amount of code for free. It’s easy and fun and will definitely make you more valuable to both your current and future employer.
This current generation knows a lot about social media, as it is almost a second language for many born in and around the era of the internet.
But learning to use social media for social marketing is a slightly different story. Luckily, there are countless free courses dedicated to the creation and distribution of digital stories.
Here is a decent list that outlines 10 free tools for social media marketing. I haven’t used any of them yet but there are some well-known names in there, including Hubspot and a few free university courses.
Expanding your skillset may seem daunting, but getting a handle on these skills will make you a valuable asset to just about any marketing department. Continue to deepen your primary skillset then broaden your knowledge in other areas. Constantly learn and you will find yourself constantly in demand.
What other skills should content marketers have? Do you subscribe to the T-Shaped person theory? Why or why not? Tell us what you think in the comments section.