How does your broad range of talent become narrow?

You hear me say it all the time: specialize.

However, I shared a post recently where Laura Foley gave a lengthy list of what she does for her clients. And as you can see, she does a lot of different things.

One might ask, isn’t this broad list going against the idea of specializing? As a matter of fact, someone did ask this question – and others might be wondering as well.

Here is the question I received today:

Your recent CFC blog post quotes Laura Foley writing down the laundry list of services she actually provides. I'm a little confused because your advice is always to narrow marketing focus to one or two specific areas.

Are Laura's comments inconsistent with this advice of yours? Maybe your recommendations deal with people I market to, while Laura is speaking of what those people think I do.

This gets important when I consider how to use that "What I do" list I created for myself. Do I include that on my website? Or do I mask the specifics (for the sake of clarity and sophistication), discussing them when in conversation with potential clients? Maybe your thoughts on this would be helpful to myself and your other readers.

Here is my answer:

It is important to specialize. But no matter how specific we get with our skills, most small business owners still provide many different services for their clients. Many of the small businesses I work with are graphic designers, but they do often incorporate a broad-range of marketing related services to meet their target market’s needs.

Just because Laura designs marketing materials, designs websites, designs e-books, and conducts PowerPoint workshops – doesn’t mean she can’t do all of these things for a specialized market.

This relates to the idea that there are two types of specialization. Vertical, and horizontal. Vertical means that you target one specific industry with various services, and horizontal means, you meet a specific need in a wide range of industries. You can’t provide everything to everybody, which is why I help my clients to specialize either vertically or horizontally. Laura is working on vertical specialization.

Vertical: Design and marketing services for the healthcare market.

Horizontal: Annual report design across many industries.

The other reason it’s important to have a clear idea of everything you do for clients, is so you can spot the specific need in members of your target market. Even though you are targeting one specific market, your approach should be different depending on the need of that individual company. Not every healthcare company needs the same thing from a design company. 

By knowing everything you do, you can better cater to the needs of everyone in your market.

I always say that you should adjust your 10-word blurb based on who you are talking to. So, if your market is healthcare, and you are talking to a healthcare company about social media, you can tell them about how you create unique Twitter backgrounds. If you are talking to pediatrician who wants to do something “fun” that will appeal to his/her younger audience, you can tell them about the cartoons you do for doctor’s offices.

Back to the question. Should you list all of your services on your website? Absolutely – but make it clear that you specialize in providing these services for your specific target industry.

By knowing exactly what we do for our clients, it helps us to better present ourselves when we meet someone within our market with that specific need.

Does this make sense?