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As digital marketing (and marketing in general) continues to evolve, so does the thinking associated with what makes a modern marketer. There have been numerous posts about T-shaped marketing, the Pi-shaped marketer, growth hacking and even ninja rockstars! (see more silly digital marketing job titles)
Whilst I’m conscious that there are already plenty of marketing buzzwords around, I nevertheless thought it worth exploring another concept: the full-stack marketer.
However, I’d like to use this post to look at the full-stack marketer not as another piece of marketing jargon but more as a mind-set or working philosophy. I don’t believe the full-stack marketer is a substitute for growth hacking, T-shaped or Pi-shaped marketing. Instead, all this thinking should be considered with the same objective in mind: to give marketers a framework and opportunity to grow and develop.
The term ‘full-stack’ has its origins in the development world and the concept of the full-stack developer or programmer - someone with the knowledge and experience to work across every facet of the development ‘stack’ or web development platform (e.g. LAMP is a common web stack that uses Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP).
Whilst some may use specialists to work on each element of the stack, the full-stack developer has an appreciation for how the entire process works and as a result has a flexibility and ability to adapt to different situations and projects.
Similarly to the full-stack developer, the full-stack marketer can work across a range of marketing disciplines, from SEO to UX and design. Like the T-shaped (a broad set of knowledge and skills but with a deep specialism in a particular area) or Pi-shaped marketer (a broad base of knowledge but capabilities in both ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ disciplines), the full-stack marketer is multi-skilled. However, the difference lies in how the full-stack marketer excels through action, i.e. they have practical working knowledge, not just an understanding, meaning they are at home editing PSDs one minute and optimising a website for search the next and always pushing to learn and adapt. This breadth of skill enables them to challenge those around them to drive for growth and more importantly get stuff done!
It’s probably fair to say that the full-stack marketer fits best within start-ups and small companies, businesses where broad, rather than specific, skills are required. An effective full-stack marketer has a natural entrepreneurial drive and the ability to take responsibility for growth. As companies look to grow, they require individuals with initiative, spirit and the capacity to see a project through from start to finish.
Whilst larger companies tend to be more siloed and skill-specific, the full-stack marketer can still thrive. Although they’re unlikely to be involved in every marketing discipline, their breadth of skill, resourcefulness and ability to see the whole funnel means that they are able to collaborate well with others and share a common focus on the end result.
What is common for full-stack marketers in any type of organisation is their ability to measure and adjust, demonstrate the value of marketing for the business and a focus on the customer and outcome rather than a specialised domain. They’re also extremely employable as a result of their growth mindset and versatility.
The real benefit of taking a full-stack marketing approach is the breadth of skill and versatility one can develop. It’s common for full-stack marketers to either move onto new, similar projects, e.g. at a small company or start-up, or alternatively progress to a head of marketing/ marketing director/ CMO type role.
Some of the key skills commonly considered to be part of the marketing ‘stack’ include:
Search engine optimisation SEO
Content marketing strategy
User experience (UX)
Landing page optimisation
In truth, there is great overlap between full-stack marketing principles and those previously invoked by growth hacking, T-shaped and Pi-shaped marketing. Marketers who are looking to develop and really add value will naturally align with any of these frameworks and philosophies and full-stack marketing simply provides another alternative.
Hopefully this article has provided a guide as to what skills to look for in full-stack marketers, either to develop your own marketing skills or look to hire a full-stack marketer for your business. Smart Insights has recently produced a list of the 20 sets of skills they think the perfect marketer would possess.
By Gavin Llewellyn
Gavin Llewellyn (LinkedIn) is an independent consultant. He is a Chartered Marketer who specialises in digital marketing, specifically in social media, SEO and online strategy. Gavin blogs at One Too Many Mornings where he offers advice, guidance and ideas on how individuals and companies can use digital marketing effectively to get found online, build engagement and generate conversion. You can Follow Gavin on Twitter and Google+.
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