BUSINESS MARKETING: Specialists specialize, generalists generalize

2012-09-23T00:00:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: Specialists specialize, generalists generalizeLarry Galler Times Business Columnist
September 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Last week I attended a chamber of commerce meeting and struck up a conversation with the person ahead of me in line for munchies.

We shook hands and introduced ourselves. The other person started telling me what he did for a living by saying, “We specialize in…” and then rattled off at least 10 or 12 different services and product categories. I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him, but by then I was holding a plate of carrot sticks, cheese cubes, and Swedish meatballs. So I refrained and listened politely as he recited his laundry list of things that are his “specialties.”

I nodded as my eyes glazed over but wanted to scream, “You can’t specialize in everything! You are a generalist!”

Yes, his business does many things, and I’m sure they do them well enough to satisfy most of their customers most of the time. But, “well enough to satisfy most of their customers most of the time” never gets raves, referrals or glowing testimonials. No one goes out of their way to comment that they purchased a “pretty fair” product from an “ordinary” company, but we will often volunteer glowing information about superior products, services and vendors.

Companies that dominate their marketplace work hard to be known for the best at what they do. Even the largest that sell thousands of different items specialize in something – it might be “lowest prices” or “largest selection” or “fastest service” or “more prestige” or “more convenience.”

In the small business world, it should be easy to specialize in something worthwhile to attract and retain customers. When a business specializes in something their targeted market wants or needs, the business gains a competitive advantage and it becomes known for that advantage. Tose who don’t have or create a specialty are only known for being an also-ran to the specialist.

So, what would you like your business to be? A business that is known as doing something special or one where nothing is special? Decide and then become the best at it so you can proudly proclaim your specialization.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Galler’s business-building program, “One Year to Greatness,” will start with a free introductory conference call at noon Oct. 10, repeated at 6 p.m. Oct. 11. For connection info send an email to Put “Oct. OYTG” in the subject line.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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