To Be a Generalist

The roles of marketers can be divided into generalists and specialists. Generalists do a little of everything. Specialists do a lot of one thing.

Which is better? That’s not for me to say.

But I can tell you that each have their advantages, both for the marketer in question as well as the company they work for. And over the next two days I will argue for both sides.

Today let me tell you why it’s better to be a generalist:

  1. You see the big picture. Too often, specialists spend so much time in their field that they can’t see how it fits in to everything else the company is doing. Generalists are required to know how different specialties work together to serve the higher purpose of the organization or the department.
  2. You can fill multiple roles. Depending on the company you work for and their needs, you can handle any number of different tasks. You might be in charge of social media one day and then writing copy for a new ad the next day. Whatever it is, you can do it.
  3. You manage the specialists. A really great manager is a generalist. It is almost a requirement. You need to know a little bit about what everybody below you does. It is tougher as a specialist to climb the corporate ladder.
  4. There are tools to help you specialize. You may never be as good at something as a specialist, but there are endless ways to add to your knowledge in any one area. From online classes, to articles, to mentorship programs, if you really want to specialize in something you can. Or you can hire someone to do it for you.
  5. Specialties can fade over time. Some specialists will find themselves in the unfortunate position where their specialty is no longer in demand. Then they have to learn a new skill in order to adapt and remain valuable. But there is always a need for generalist.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the reasons why it’s better to be a specialist!