blog post | marketing

How to become a digital marketing unicorn

In the world of marketing, are you a digital marketing unicorn or do you stick to your niche? With the landscape of all things digital moving faster than the speed of light, it’s important to have your finger on the pulse of everything and embrace being a generalist.

As the old saying goes, “A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”.

We sat down with the marketing unicorn himself, Neal Schaffer, on our 3-Minute Marketing podcast to talk about how to become a marketing generalist.

Go beyond your expertise

“I have wavered between niching down and being a generalist,” says Schaffer. “I became known as sort of this expert in LinkedIn. I launched a blog solely about LinkedIn in 2008, and then I wrote my first book, which is about LinkedIn, in 2009.”

After the publication of his first book, Neal realized that he knew everything there was to know about the platform, but he wasn’t serving the needs and challenges of his clients by being a specialist.

“I think that a lot of people niche, and then they become an evangelist,” says Schaffer. “A really good case study is Clubhouse, or we can go back to Google+. People equate their brand and their reputation completely with a specific social network, and I don’t think they’re serving their audience. They’re serving that social network by promoting them.”

If you’re a LinkedIn expert like Neal, consider branching out and learning how to best utilize other social platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Graduate from being a specialist and don’t get boxed in again

“My third book was about social media strategy,” says Schaffer. “My most recent book, The Age of Influence, was about influencer marketing. People started to put me in this influencer marketing silo. And when I had companies reach out to me, and I published this in March of 2020, it’s the shiny new toy.”

Your company may be eager to do influencer marketing in 2022, but you could also be falling behind on SEO strategy, blogging, and marketing automation. In order to be a successful digital marketing unicorn, you have to cover all your bases.

Get ahead by “knowing lots of things”

As a marketing generalist, you need to be able to serve your employer, your market, your customers, and your career. The only way to do that effectively is to “know a lot of things”.

“One of my good friends is a B2B marketer and we were having a talk the other day,” says Schaffer. “I’m like, ‘Are you doing this? Check. Are you doing this? Check.’ There are a number of things that a marketer needs to be able to do. The more of those that you can do, I believe that is the path to management. That’s the path to being an executive.”

Invest in learning new skills

If your goal is truly to become a digital marketing unicorn, you need to immerse yourself in it. “You either need to find budget and experiment with it for your own company, do it for your own brand, or you need to help a nonprofit,” says Schaffer. “These are the easiest ways to get actual experience in something very different.”

The best way to challenge yourself in 2022 is to learn a new skill. Experiment with platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Through experience, you gain knowledge and wisdom.

Hear from more marketing generalists

Want more insight like this? Check out our 3-Minute-Marketing podcast to hear from a wide range of CEOs, CMOs, and more who identify as generalists. And if you’re looking for a team of digital marketing unicorns to help with your marketing efforts, we’re here for you.

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