We Don’t Remodel Break Rooms. We Solve Problems.

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I’ve been struggling with this whole “specialization” topic for the last year. I hear and read all of these marketing consultants talking about how we need to “specialize” in a particular industry. We need to become “experts” in (fill in the blank). Ugh.

I get it. I can see how it works for some agencies. I do. But, for the past 25 years, Multiple has NOT specialized in any particular industry. We “specialize” in delivering quality brand and marketing programs driven by thorough research, solid messaging, smart design, and comprehensive reporting. I have a really hard time when I read crap like this from our amazing and wonderful partners at HubSpot when trying to make the point that you shouldn’t try to specialize in multiple services (Note: we are a certified HubSpot partner, so we actually really do love them):

“When’s the last time you heard someone ask, ‘Do you know of any great massage therapists who can also cut my hair?’
Or ‘I just wish my physician could fill this cavity after we’re done with my yearly physical?’
Most people don’t trust people who claim to be experts in multiple services or skills.”

First of all, don’t start out your argument with a weak example. In the example above, the writer is talking about someone trained in a particular job and performing services outside of that job. I am in no way going to offer a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy (which we are trained in because we are designers and marketers) and also remodel my client’s break room (which we are not trained in).

What I think Mrs. HubSpot Writer was trying to say throughout the article is pick an industry and skill, and stick with it. Pick a skill? Ok. Pick an industry? For some, I know that works. For others, it’s too confining.

It’s About Problem Solving

Massage therapist:

  • massages (service, or what they do)
  • help reduce pain and discomfort (the problem they solve)
  • make day to day living more comfortable (why the do it)

A great massage therapist doesn’t only do massages (service) for people in the healthcare industry. They understand a particular problem (shoulder pain, neck pain, etc.) and help to solve that problem to make day to day living for that person more comfortable. Does it help if that massage therapist “specializes” in working with people in the dental industry? Possibly. But why would they do that? Dental hygienists are going to have relatively the same issues as everyone else in the world. The problem is the same. The cause of the problem may be different.

Our clients generally have the same problems. The causes of those problems are what may be unique.

We are like the massage therapist. We provide a particular service, that solves a problem, to bring some kind of benefit to you. We have a process as well as tools we use (just like a massage therapist uses charts or their hands) to help solve your marketing pain. We don’t care if you’re in the healthcare, finance, education, or any other industry. What we do, how we do it, and why we do it doesn’t change.

Mrs. HubSpot Writer goes on to say:

“We want to choose a provider of services based on their qualifications and expertise to solve our specific problem. We want to have a strong reason for going with this provider over that.”

Exactly! We want our clients to base their decisions on our qualifications and expertise to solve their specific problems. NOT their specific industry. We don’t claim to be experts in any one industry, and we feel that makes us a lot more valuable to you as a marketing partner. (You can read more about it in a post I wrote here.) When it comes to branding and digital marketing, we have the qualifications, and we for damn sure have the expertise. Plus, people like us. And that always sweetens the deal that much more.

Venting?

Yes, I’m venting a little. I’ve been sitting on the fence for a bit trying to weigh the pros and cons of “specializing”. This article made me think that much more about it, and has convinced me (for now anyway) that “specializing” in a particular industry is for medical device companies and manufacturers of car steering wheels, not for us. We “specialize” in solving brand and marketing problems for our clients. Not break room remodels.

Take a peek at our non-industry specific client list to see what I mean.

32LOUD

3Com

Ahold USA

AIGA

Aion Solutions

Adello Biologics

Advance Illinois

Albertson’s

Alcon Laboratories

Amdocs

American Bar Association

American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

American Marketing Association

American Planning Association

Ameritox

Amica Mature Lifestyles

Antec

Aon

Appleton Coated

AptarGroup

Archstone-Smith

Atlanta Mission

The Atlantic Philanthropies

AV Chicago

Avcorp

Avizent

BC Cancer Agency

BC Children’s Hospital Foundation

be.group

Bernice Wahler Landscape

Black Blanket Farms

Bobby Dodd Institute

Bopomo Pictures

Brandtrust

Bright Hope International

British Columbia Real Estate Association

Broderbund Software

Brown Shoe

Calgary Academy

Cambridge Integrated Services Group

Career Education Corporation

Center for Public Integrity

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

CEOs for Cities

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Charming Shoppes

CHC Helicopter

Chicago Community Trust

Chicago Loop Alliance

Children’s Home + Aid

Chicago Public Education Fund

The Children’s School

Chiquita Brands

Cisco Systems

The Coca-Cola Company

Columbia College Chicago

Come & Dish

Department of Fisheries and Oceans

DePaul University

Devon Energy

Discovery Charter School

Eby-Brown

eGate Solutions

EG&G

Finning International

Florsheim Group

Formica

Cincinnati, OH

Fox River Paper

Fresenius Kabi USA

Gallagher Bassett

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia-Pacific

GolinHarris

Graphis Inc.

Great Lakes Protection Fund

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Hartmarx

Healthcare REIT

Heedo

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

i.c. Stars

iCarnegie

Ignite Progress

Illinois Works for the Future

Indiana University

Indiana University–Purdue University

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

International Truck

Intrawest

iQue Repair

Ivanhoe Mines

Jabra

JP Morgan Chase

Klein and Hoffman

Lincoln National

Littelfuse

Loewen Windows

Lyric Motion

Marathon Pharmaceuticals

MDA

Meinhardt Fine Foods

Meijer

Motorola

MVP.com

The Nantucket Project

The Nature Conservancy

Navistar

NCR Corporation

Norske Canada

Northwestern University

one20

Openlands

OpinionLab

The Ounce of Prevention Fund

Oxbow Social Media Monitoring

PaineWebber Group

PanAmSat

Paragon Pharmaceutical Capital

Pearson Education

Peppercomm

PepsiCo

Perkins + Will

Petro-Canada

PGA Tour

PG&E

PowerPlayer

Preservation Compact

Price.com

PwC

Protox Therapeutics

Prudential Insurance

Public Broadcasting Atlanta

Qiditi

QLT Inc

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

Ringling College of Art + Design

Robert Bosch Tool Corporation

Rotary International

Royal Caribbean Cruises

RR Donnelly & Sons

RTC Inc.

Scandent Group

Scientific Games

Sedgwick Claims Management Services

ServiceMaster

Security Point Media

Sesame Workshop

Sierra Wireless

Silencerco

Silver Standard Resources

Simpson Paper

Smart Papers

Society of Graphic Designers of Canada

Society of Thoracic Surgeons

Spertus Institute

Success by Six — United Way

Swiss Army Brands

Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation

Tandberg

Taubman

Techo-Bloc

Telus

Terra Foundation

Thomson NETg

TIR Systems

TRW

ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance

Urban Juice & Soda

University of Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

Vancouver Art Gallery

Whirlpool

World Business Chicago

Wolters Kluwer

WPA

XRS Corporation

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Want to learn more about creating a solid marketing strategy that will give you more overall structure and piece of mind? You can read The 5 Step Process For a More Structured Marketing Strategy e-book for a more in-depth discussion of these concepts and how can begin to implement them.


Originally published at inbound.multipleinc.com.