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The Modern Marketer: Generalist, Specialist or Enigma?
Posted on May 14th 2014
It’s not easy to explain exactly what social media analysts, content marketers, blog writers, SEO experts, and other job titles can do for businesses. The industry is evolving, that’s for sure, though where we (the modern marketers) stand is still up for grabs.
We’re used to building up products, brands, and personalities. We hail from journalism, communications, creative writing, advertising, business, and various other fields. No two of us are the same.
Which raises the question: What is the modern marketer?
In my experience working with a content company that does everything from blogging and social media to ghostwriting, I’ve learned one thing: We do whatever needs doing.
The marketing generalist is a jack-of-all-trades, one who knows the basics of blogging, a bit about keywords, how to use Twitter, and how to optimize social media profiles. These professional marketers are quite common in smaller businesses hoping to cash out on online content marketing, especially since “content” applies to anything published.
The generalist may have studied content and social marketing in school; however, by the time the books are printed and courses taught, most of the “now” strategies are dated. Or, more likely, the generalist’s background is in marketing or writing.
Regardless of background, generalists tend to have these two traits:
- Be comfortable going out of their shell and researching new trends and techniques.
- Be able to write decent content on any subject with any parameters.
The generalist is usually a professional who stumbled into the industry and has the common sense, self-critical writing skills, and comfort level to become part of this maturing industry.
Then there’s the specialist, one who specializes in PPC, SEO, long-form content, growing influencers, Facebook marketing, or any specific area. The specialists are the spokespersons of social-content marketing, the ones whose blogs we read, learn from, and mimic.
Specialists tend to work for large marketing firms and focus on utilizing their well-researched talents for specific purposes, like implementing PPC strategies for a group of big brands. The specialists are familiar enough with the rest of the industry to know how their niche knowledge affects and plays into everything else.
The specialist may have a background in programming and computers as well, allowing him or her to perform analytical research and create tools to get the job done. Becoming a specialist is a long yet essential road for the rest of the industry, but it is challenging.
Marketing specialists may have a few matching characteristics:
- The ability and willingness to share what they know with the rest of the industry.
- Tech-savvy skills to create tools and do hard research on content marketing.
- A position with a larger marketing company.
- A firm understanding of the industry at large.
Then there are the enigmas, that group of job titles that support content marketers and make their own roles. It’s tough to split any career into three categories, especially when “general” and “specialized” cover everything.
However, I am apt to classify marketing enigmas as those that bridge the gap between these two fields. I call myself one, in fact, as my workload is limited to copywriting. While learning this specific area of the trade, I have developed a firm understanding of how the niche fields interact and affect what I do.
Have I sat down and performed search analytics, platform-specific social media tools, and other specialist-heavy areas? No, not particularly. My focus is writing high-quality stuff and not worrying about keywords, backlinks, and other tools used by marketers. Does this make me an enigma? I’m not sure. It’s hard to label oneself as a wildcard.