What is a Comb-Shaped Marketer – Diary Entry 1

The first diary entry into the Diary of a Comb-Shaped Marketer explores what it is to be Comb-Shaped, why its important and what sort of person should be it.

In this first diary entry I explore the term, why generalists are important and look at some of the specific traits associated with being Comb-Shaped.

What is a Comb-Shaped Marketer Transcript

Diary entry one. What is a comb shaped marketer? Hello and welcome to the diary of a Comb-Shaped Marketer. I’m Ben Roberts and in these diary entries I’m going to talk a little bit about what it is to be a comb shape marketer, what it means, why it’s important and actually how we can have this expansionist mindset that will help us as marketers, as leaders, as managers to broaden our horizon start mindsets and this podcast is going to be done pretty regularly. I’m not going to promise you that it’s going to be like every day, like three days a week, four days a week, but it’s going to be somewhat regularly and that could be quite potentially some longer ones and shorter ones. It’s literally going to be like keeping a diary about what it is to be a coach, leader and marketers, sharing thoughts, ideas, feelings, why it might be important, why we need specialists, but why we also need generalists and actually why this term Comb-Shaped Marketer actually exists because it sounds a bit odd.

It sounds like a buzz word, something that’s just like, hang on. What does comb shape mean? Remember this is NOT CONE, BUT COMB. What does it actually mean? For me it’s a philosophy. It’s a way of being. It’s something that all I am striving myself towards and it’s because I don’t want to be a specialist. I never have done. I’ve always wanted to know more about how everything fits together. Almost like a jigsaw puzzle puzzle where you’re trying to fit. How does SEO fit into PR? How does that affect social media? How does that Linkedin to finance, how does all this stuff work and that’s what this is all about.

Wow. Sneezes. I wish I could edit this out and this is what it’s going to be. It’s going to be literally like writing a diary. You’re going to hear sneezes and I’m going to be recording this in so many different places, potentially bringing on different people who I’ve had really interesting conversations with and this is going to be a record of all the airs and graces, and it is stuff that I think is really, really important for you guys to know and stuff. The only thing you may not even think that you want to know. So I guess I lose no, none. Knowns and those unknown unknown stuff you, you know that you don’t know is just that you didn’t even know that you didn’t know that you now go, oh my God, this something I need to be need to be. So what does it mean to be a Comb-Shaped Marketer?

It’s the idea of not being a specialist in a particular niche. It’s about having a broader understanding of how marketing works and how it fits into a business model. It’s about having enough knowledge to be, to effectively manage people who are specialists, but not so much that it actually becomes like your daily work. So for example, let’s look at SEO. Now, SEO is a really complicated topic. Now you can understand that SEO exists, that actually there are a couple of ranking factors and maybe you understand there are keywords stuff, but actually if you’re trying to manage someone who actually works in SEO, so you’re a manager or leader in a company, you want to management who does SEO, do you actually know what they do? Do you actually know and understand about technic last year? Do you know and understand about what HTML, what the .htaccess file is?

Understanding what the disavow file is, things like there’s some many intricacies. So you don’t necessarily need to know how all the Minoosh details, micro detailing around that. But you should be able to have a full conversation with someone. And it’s, this work comes back to the, the shape of a comb and the idea of a comb. So I’ve written a blog post about this. If you just literally type in comb shaped marketer on Google, you’ll find this blog post and it’s about having that broad high level knowledge that’s like the back spine of the comb and then down for each of the prongs down. Those represent a somewhat deeper level of understanding about what a certain topic is. PR, social content, crucial analytics, um, we PPC, social, even social advertising, all these little things become part of the, the prongs down from there that represents that deeper knowledge.

And then again, you don’t necessarily have to always have the same size problems. So the idea of the comb that I represent in this blog post is one too. Actually the problems aren’t necessarily the same size. It’s about having some, a broader, some that are fatter, some of that thinner. You’ll see hope you see the examples in this blog post. But it’s the idea that actually you need to be building these prongs. You can effectively manage and lead people cause you know what they do so you don’t nicely micromanage. Allow them to be specialists in their role. But then you actually have that broad and starting of how it all fits together. So we’re not creating these silos in these teams because too many marketing teams become siloed. And I believe it’s because there aren’t enough comb sheet marketers. You have a lot of individuals when that’s yes.

So when they come in to manage a team, they understand how two or three aspects of that team works, but they can’t manage a whole team effects because they don’t understand what it is the other people do. To be a really effective manager, leader, director, a head of marketing head of any department, you have to know how everything actually works. You can’t just go, I find it really difficult. People have been specialists and then tries to be managers because they only understand. They understand that area very, very well but then are so lacking potentially in other areas and not saying every manager but they lack in some other areas which means actually can’t be as effective as you would like them to be as a manager and this is what the Comb-Shaped Marketer is all about. It’s about expanding mindsets, broadening horizons. It’s about not, there’s a diff ins blog posts.

I talk about different shapes of marketers as well cause there’s this common one is back T shaped and the ideas you have like a broad top level, but you have a specialist again, that’s great. This helped broaden a few horizons but still pretty much specialist. You’ve got I shapes and Pi shapes, pies in like the maths pie where it becomes like two prongs and specialists. Again, this is great and they can actually potentially be managers of smaller areas of the team. Really if you want to be at the pinnacle, you want to lead a company, a bigger team, an organisation. I just don’t believe that that is good enough to be a good director, leader, a manager and I believe that we should have more than, so I don’t think we have enough people that are willing or have had even been given the opportunity to become comb shapes because you come out of university, you come out of degrees and you’re put into a graduate job or an entry level job where you can be working for big company and then you do that one specialist role and you become, [00:07:30] you become stuck in that, in that level doing things.

You could be stuck doing PPC for ages because you become very good at it, which is great and if you want to see that perfect, there’s nothing absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you want to really progress and become a leader and a manager, you need to become more calm shaped. I don’t necessarily see that we need more Comb-Shaped Marketers. Well I think we do actually, this is where you’ll see the, the rawness that I’m gonna have in these diary entries is that I’m thinking about this as we go along and then hopefully it’s going to inspire some creative sparks in you and you can understand my thought processes and my learning over time and lots of as well as sharing. I’m constantly learning and trying to build on what this comb shaped marketer actually is. And for me there are three key facets or three attributes that a Comb-Shaped Marketer should have the first firstly be an expansionist.

And that is someone who is willing to broaden their minds that they want their, their learners. They want to find out how things work, how things are put together, how successful teams operate. Cause they don’t want you to look in their own industry to look at other companies, other managers or the leaders or the competitors, other industries in general. How do they work? How are they successful? Can I replicate that? Is this stuff that I can learn from those people and not be narrow minded. They’re the opposite of narrow-minded. A Comb-Shaped Marketer I believe should also be a digger. Now, digger as in someone who wants to know more about saying they don’t want to understand this exists. They actually want to know how it works. So not necessarily be the person that’s doing it on a daily basis, but you need to know, understand how it works.

Because for me, I’m a curious person. I want to know how they grew up yet. I would want to know how electrics are put together, but I don’t actually want to be an electrician. I want to know, um, how it is that you make different meals. But I don’t want to be a chef. That’s the type of person you want to be and certainly you need to be a leader. I believe it comes at marketers are the future leaders and directors and managers as I’ve hopefully made quite clear. Um, and yeah, it’s the idea that actually you want to understand what everyone does. You can be really effective in your job. You don’t need, you don’t isolate people, you don’t create silos within teams. You break down silos, you make things work, you make things easier for people to do their jobs and that you don’t have to micromanage, but you’re able to understand how to effectively lead because you understand actually that is a job that takes that, that requires a huge map, technical knowhow.

So instead of going why isn’t this done? And some as to try to explain to you that how difficult this could be. You actually understanding coding is a huge example. I’m going out my way to learn how to code. So I no longer have to rely completely on a developer. If I have to ask, develop, I understand actually how long some of these things may take. It’s not like you don’t want to code everything, but I need to know how long. So actually when I affected, we try and budget intended time, and monetary value, I’m able to do that effectively. And those are the three tenants and attributes I think a comb shape marketer should have. And over the course of this diary I’m gonna explore different topics, different ideas, different ways of thinking and being and actually find out how it all, how it all fits together and whether more people should be Comb-Shaped Marketers or not.

And I think it’s going to be a really fascinating time. So please stick with the desire of Comb-Shaped Marketer. I hope you enjoy my previous projects and marketing buzzword stuff. And this is the extension in the expansion of days is me going deeper and becoming more, just become known for this term country market and really drive this term forward. And this is why I talked about in the book and everything I learned from the pot, my last podcast and this is the meat being in bit to implement that and do it actually show you that it is possible. So I hope you enjoy what is to come from this. And I will be back. Well, very, very soon with another diary entry. Goodbye.