Why content marketing practitioners actually have to specialize to a degree

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

You might be interested in this article if you are a:

  • Recruiter or hiring manager
  • Content marketing executive or team lead
  • Content marketer
  • HR futurist

If you’ve been to one my keynotes on this topic you heard me say that slashes hardly ever work in job descriptions:

Web master/social media expert/writer/designer

For example.

That doesn’t even fit on a business card. Good thing that employee won’t have time to hand out business cards anyway. So we should be good! Pfft.

Most slashes only work in the heads of executives who dreamt them up but don’t have to do the work. It works in theory. I also can play in the NFL in  theory.


This hit me a when an executive hired me to help roll out a project that would combine tasks across different roles. Needless to say it worked with some people to a degree. Others had vastly different skills and some didn’t sign up for that kind of merger. Some people – even though they have great skills for what they were hired for – might leave even.

I can stomp my foot all day and proclaim that it’s the people and they should just implement my plan, the thing is there’s a reality of skills, interests and strengths.

Let’s make it even more complicated:

What kind of slashes can be added also depends on the total makeup of a team.

And then it comes down to combinations of workflow on the team:

Person A’s content is really good when Person B interviewed the subject matter expert to get content and when Person C edited the final piece. But it’s not when the roles are switched.

How teams are combined matters, too.

Depending on the skills you could have one person focus on each of these:

  • Social media scheduling, monitoring and performance tracking
  • Blog writing, optimization and social media writing
  • Content gathering and change management
  • Design of assets and web production

These are just some examples, but when I see people who are looking for all these things and more in a potential team member I know they are living in la la land.

Yes, I also would like to hire the perfect team member, but if you don’t know a single person who can do the job, maybe it’s the expectation and not the people.

Anyway, people should play up and work on their  strengths that cannot be as easily commodized.

Certainly some leaders would be happy to commodize everything. That means we csn cut costs and hire the cheapest person or service or whatever.


Person A and Person B both have very similar skills. They figured out how to add just the right amount of slashes to look good. Who wins when everything else appears equal?

Easy answer: Whomever asks for less money.

That is commidization. The cheapest product “wins.” But keep in mind that the race to the bottom can actually be won.

And this can sound like a winning proposition for companies. Hire the cheapest labor that is about average at most tasks.

That might look good short term on the balance sheet but long term it won’t be a differentiator.

People need to be experts at something to differentiate long term. Here’s my personal example:

I produce content all the time. Often daily. I speak at conferences. I have published books. I sign deals.

Overall, it’s going great. But here’s the thing:

I will never win a literacy award or a “best looking website award.”

Every once in a while I get messages like this:

Love your message but the designs! Does it look less than perfect because that’s authentic?

Well, no. But I’m focusing my energy (and funds) on the content identification and creation and  the related client work versus continuously updating my website look, which is a WordPress template that I installed after the previous template crashed. It was easy and looks mostly okay. Literally those were the two deal makers.

And just to be clear: I’m all for everything being perfect if it still gets to the end goal of getting the right content in front of the right people. Approval Hell doesn’t set us up for success.

Certainly, when one person does everything we might be able to avoid Approval Hell, but that’s not a team then.

Digital marketing and content marketing work best with a well-rounded team. Some slashes work and jobs needs to evolve for sure. Heck, what I do today didn’t even exist when I went to college for journalism. It’s related for sure but it’s a newer thing in the way I practice it today. There are other jobs like it. Think app developer.

Maybe the trick is to identify the overarching skills and figure out how to group related ones and then hire team members to complement (and sometimes compliment ??) each other.



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