[Thinking Outside the Box] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Online marketing—blogging, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising—to name only a few kinds, provides today’s authors with a vehicle to reach a worldwide audience where, in the past, they were limited to their own backyards. But to make any kind of real headway in this crowded space full of millions of people doing the same thing as you’re doing online, you’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out among the rest by combining analytical and creative skills together. I’m talking about T-shaped marketing.

I invite you to click on this link because it will bring you to a diagram that depicts the T-shaped marketing concept really well: The T-Shaped Web Marketer. To quote the author of this Moz blog entry: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).” Your deep knowledge/ability (the stem of the T) is the content you’ve written about in your book(s) whereas the flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various other creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s).


Many of the most successful online companies of today used T-shaped marketing (also referred to as “growth hacking” which will be discussed in an upcoming blog entry) to grow their businesses when no venture capital was available to help them. AirBNB utilized Craigslist users as part of their growth hacking strategy. PayPal paid people for referrals. DropBox gave people extra storage for referrals. There are many more examples of this, as well.

I believe authors can do the same thing as these companies did to really put themselves and their books on the map. If you have any doubts about that, I invite you to read this online Forbes article: Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer. Mark Dawson was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his trade publisher sold for him, he switched to self-publishing for his next book and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead of a mere trade published author. This is T-shaped marketing at its best.

I hope today’s blog entry will whet your appetite enough to join me again for the next one. I’ll be talking about growth hacking in a bit more detail when we meet each other again.

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