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-man band.
Maybe not quite like that. But what I mean is you need more than one really awesome thing 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 considered to be “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 concept 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 researching so important. It allows you to get ahold of the pulse of your industry and the ones you are marketing towards (this is not necessarily the same thing).
Learn to use data to find trends. Then apply them 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 sounds outsourced.
If you’re reading this I doubt you have a problem with writing well, as all that takes is lots of reading and lots of 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 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 to have you explain why to them 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.
(If you know of a free one that is of decent quality please let me know)
Please, don’t shrink away in fear or cut me out. In the world of the internet, EVERYONE needs even a small amount of coding experience. Even if it is just a small 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 your current company and those in the future.
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 really awesome names in there, including Hubspot and a few free university courses.
This all may seem daunting, but getting a handle on these skills will make you a valuable asset to just about any marketing department. Focus on one area specifically then continue to branch out to 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.