Specialists vs Generalists

When I’m writing content for my B2B Marketing Consulting Services clients, they often want to market themselves as a full-service technology provider. As an IT generalist, they are “one throat to choke” if something goes wrong. A single point of accountability.

Recently I needed technical support. For hours, I was bounced between 3 different service providers. With each call, I grew increasingly frustrated. Each vendor only looked within the confines of their own software application to fix the problem.

It wasn’t until I found “a regular IT guy” that I was able to find a resolution to my problem. He looked at the problem holistically.

Niche Provider vs. Niche Marketing

There’s a big difference between a niche provider (a specialist) and niche marketing (basically a generalist, but whose marketing is niche oriented.)

A niche provider is a specialist. If I need brain surgery, I’m not counting on my primary care physician to “figure it out” – I will go with the top specialist I can find.

Companies that do niche marketing have general offerings, but they’re presented to different audiences. Language and images need to match that audience’s needs. For example, I’ve done marketing for various groups where I might do niche marketing, even when the content is largely the same for different audiences, like:

I have credibility and experience in all those areas. Niche marketing is just the “wrapper” you put around your offerings.

Are you a generalist or a specialist?

You don’t have to “do it all’ to be successful. But you do have to know who you are. As my friend and business coach AJ Sue says, you have to know “Do you work with machetes and chainsaws? Or do you work with a scalpel?”  That’s the specialists vs generalists difference.

The world needs both. As your marketing consultant, I’d advise you to:

  • Know who you are.
  • Make sure your marketing reinforces your specialty or generalization.
  • Collaborate with others to find a solution that works for your clients. The happiest customers and best referrals can come from collaboration.

Are you a generalist or a specialist? Unless you’re a larger company with multiple divisions, it’s very difficult to be both and it’s one of the most important distinctions you can make.

Specialists vs Generalists