What does it take to be a great T-shaped marketer [CXL Review Week 9]

t-shaped marketer
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The difference between good and great marketing is having a deep understanding of customers.

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Here I am, in the final three weeks of my 12 weeks journey into the Growth Marketing certification minidegree and it is getting better week-by-week.

This week I’ve been browsing the module about marketing channels and the specific growth skills. And let me tell you, it is packed with a lot of content covering most of the channels a T-Shaped marketer (or growth marketer if you prefer) should handle in order to clearly communicate marketing messages.

There is so much to cover on the marketing channels topic therefore I decided for this week to write about what it means to be a t-shaped marketer and I will cover in-depth the channels next time.

A lot of things started to clarify and sharing a couple of them now maybe it will help any other stranger that will follow with this series:

  1. research is the patch for a deep understanding of the customer. I really think that knowing how to do research is the key to growth.
  2. time flies, tactics change but the fundamentals of marketing are still the same:
    • we are responsible for driving demand,
    • building brand distinction,
    • and we need to tell a story.

The main responsibility of a t-shaped marketer is to really understand the fundamentals and having knowledge in most of the tactics or activities. In my opinion, the specialization to focus on is data-analytics since a good analysis empowers the decisions.

Where does a T-shaped marketer fit

Generally speaking, when somebody hires a marketer they need one that knows how to write, not necessarily the one that is a writer.

I’m trying to avoid the term growth marketing because I feel this is something for startups with large investment capital. Still a buzzword in my opinion.

Most of the time, most of the companies need a T-shaped marketer to execute on a large range of activities. Not all of the activities should bring 10X growth or are worthy of case studies with triple-digit increases.

Sure, there is a time and place for marketing hacks, but what I am trying to say is that the number of companies that need growth hackers in the way it is “advertised” is limited.

There is a big pool of companies that just need a single person who can handle marketing end-to-end. Not necessarily from an execution point of view. A company with a good turnover and good margins just needs a single person touch-point that is not a manager.

From a business perspective, the value of a t-shaped marketer is as relevant as any other activity. Does it impact the bottom line? Was revenue generated out of XYZ activities?

How important is a diploma

I live in a country where having a diploma is more important than what you can actually do. A person with a marketing college degree and no experience has an edge over the person with experience in the field and a college degree in another field.

When I decided to focus on marketing I quickly realized that anybody can access the same information as I did. This meant that I was always learning something thinking that everybody does the same.

Reality check: less people than I though are avid learners.

A diploma is not as important as going thru the Growth Marketing minidegree. I was always interested in several topics but didn’t have the structure and didn’t know how to position myself. Now I feel comfortable saying that:

I am a data-driven marketer and I can build WordPress websites with a simple to medium complexity.

A structured course that goes over most of the things a marketer should know is more important than a diploma.

Having clarified this simple sentence empowers me for what I want to achieve professionally. I can actually say that I want to build something that doesn’t require a team to manage, no overhead. Deciding quickly and implementing fast is a better way of doing business as a solopreneur.

The plan for the last 3 weeks

I am happy to report that the moment of clarity happened before finishing the minidegree. This just shows the value of the content by the CXL Institute.

Now I have enough time to go back and go over the things I want to definitely improve. This wouldn’t have happened without reading the great content Peep Laja puts on social media. I mostly follow him on Linkedin and I recommend the same for you.

I already covered the Account-Based marketing chapter because it is an animal on its own. So the plan is to regroup the remaining content to align with my goals.

I’m at the point where I know that I want to focus on email marketing and content writing. Knowing more allows me to identify the channel that clicks best with the business and optimize around that. Marketers need to align with business goals and not vice-versa.

Here is the next week’s article breakdown. And yes, the order is important because I think this is what you can leverage as a business as fundamentals.

  • Email marketing
    • How to get 20x 20x returns from email marketing how to build lists fast, what to send that works, and how to make your email marketing data-driven.
  • Content strategy and SEO:
    • Building a world-class content marketing program for lead generation
    • Maximizes traffic with an SEO-driven editorial calendar
    • Outrank competition with Technical SEO
  • Paid Ads:
    • Facebook Ads – rethinking the new customer journey with Facebook advertising
    • Google Ads – master Google Ads, and make paid acquisition highly profitably
    • LinkedIn advertising – confidently generate huge ROI from your LinkedIn Ads
    • YouTube ads – build & scale profitable YouTube ad campaigns
  • Maximizing audiences for your PPC campaigns
    • Go beyond keywords & reap higher returns on your PPC ad spend
  • Retention: the most underrated growth channel
    • How to make customer retention your number one growth channel
  • Messaging strategy in public relations and data-driven influencer marketing
    • In my opinion, these two go hand in hand. So get ready for the 10 step influencer marketing process.

Sure, there are probably more that can be added to the list and since marketing efficiency decreases year by year, it is obviously we do need to look for new channels, but these I consider to be the basis.

Concluding, what do you think would be an easier project for a T-shaped marketer: growing an already established business or one that is just getting started (not necessarily a startup)?


This article is the ninth in a series of 12 reviews of studying Growth marketing Minidegree at CXL Institute. Follow the minidegree tag for the entire series.

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