In a certain corner of the marketing industry, there is a famous cliche: “Don’t be afraid to be pigeonholed, pigeonholes are stuffed with money”.
Like most cliches, it’s tediously overused and seems too simple to be true. But let’s play a little devil advocate here, and try to defend it (in moderation, of course).
Let’s say you want a hand-made crib for a soon-to-be newborn member of your family. You can choose between a specialist and a generalist, so who are you going to choose? For most people, that decision can go either way. But people don’t really say “hi, I’m a generalist”.
What a specialist sounds like: “I have a lot of experience making cribs, you can see my portfolio here…”
What a generalist sounds like: “I have a lot of experience making things out of wood. I can make you a crib, but am also a good choice for a doghouse, a stool, a cabin, or a pedestrian bridge if you need that as well.”
To a colleague, the generalist may sound more capable. But as a client, who would you trust more not to leave any splinters, use only natural glues, and have the thing polished in time for the birth?
Turns out, most people are willing to pay specialists more money for the same quality simply because they tend to sound more convincing when talking about their value.
Be honest, when you talk about what you do, how specialized do you come across?