The General’ist | A Retrospective

In the spirit of full-transparency and in keeping with the tenets of this blog, I would like to share a recent experience that most would consider a setback, the loss of a potential client.

With 15 years of experience on display within this website, coupled with 6+ years focused solely in the ever-evolving digital marketing arena, I felt there was little to worry about when it came to impressing a prospect. Outside of a face-to-face meeting and the ink drying on a new deal, I generally don’t fret over a contract that doesn’t go my way.

However, when I am passed over due to a lack understanding of what I offer, that doesn’t sit well with me.

A recent opportunity called for a solid understanding of a MarTech tool I have leveraged many times, the ability to sell a ‘best-course of action’ and guide a team – all within my wheelhouse. Unfortunately, I was passed over and deemed a ‘generalist’ by the key decision makers. While impressed with my work, the CEO wanted a ‘focused’ specialist to run the projects and team.

Ironically, the tool of choice for this agency, HubSpot sites the use of a generalist by a 6:2 ratio in a blog article from 2014. Go figure.

What is certain is that in 2017, there are so many subsets of digital outreach it’s unrealistic to become a true expert in more then one or two. The latest tools evolve almost quarterly in; content marketing, inbound marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, conversion optimization, pay-per-click, retargeting, ad infinitum.

The ever evolving MarTech & Sales technology stack.

My point is, no matter how much one tries, you’ll never be able to learn enough about everything, so a broad understanding and prior use of a technology tempered against experience would always be preferable. Would it not?

Personally, I have been on both sides of this issue. My career, which began to transition as the internet and associated technologies ‘grew up’ in the mid-2000’s, started with a focus in specialities such as print and large format. Additionally, over the years I was fortunate enough to be part of very specialized project teams from content curation and SEO optimization, to data and analytics.

Having witnessed the advent of digital marketing and working within it before any real tools were available, I like others, was able to hone problem solving skills which cumulatively added up to whom I am today, a

Also, I don’t think it’s any coincidence ‘general’ is seated nicely at the front of ‘generalist’.

Ok that’s silly, but the point stands.

When faced with a limited budget you’ll come to realize that the marketers of 2017 and beyond can do much more on their own than those of past generations, which is a good thing, but great marketing technology and singular specialists alone are not the answer.

No, the most important marketing-centric hire a business can make today is that of the seasoned ‘generalist’ who’s leadership comes from historical perspective and gut, augmented by ever changing digital marketing tools – not dictated by them.

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