Jack (Jill?) of all trades, master of many

Or, The Incredible Benefits of Being a Generalist

I am asked frequently what we specialize in at Big Sea. Many clients want to hear that you understand their specific industry, their vernacular and unique problems.

We have many clients who are very similar, sure. We have done quite a bit of work with museums and attractions; with B2B companies; with healthcare clients. But the similarities end at those broad “industry” buckets.

When I was a kid, I played sports. All of them. I joined clubs. I took up hobbies. I went to camps. As I grew older, I got multiple degrees in multiple domains. I’ve got experience in just about every hip craft you can name, and continue to take classes to up my hobby game.

I dabbled in a little bit of everything. I always have. I’m a multi-potentialite, a Renaissance person, a generalist through and through. It’s probably no surprise that my agency is too.

Intentionally not niching down

Because we don’t work exclusively in any one specific niche, every problem we encounter becomes an exploratory opportunity rather than a “business as usual.” We get to unearth the why behind our client’s biggest questions and solutions are drawn from our full breadth of experience – some of which may very well be that we’ve done this before.

We apply our knowledge working across dozens of industries, on dozens of channels, with dozens of target prospects, budgets, and opportunities.

We are required by our generalism to dismiss the routine, and embrace each problem as unique.

We’ve applied traditional eCommerce funnel-building to non-profit fundraising for great success. We’ve utilized B2B inbound content marketing approaches for higher educations admissions and far exceeded our goals.

Because we’re always learning something new, we know the right questions to ask. We are not afraid to try something new, because it’s what we do.

Turns out, there’s quite a bit of research about the benefits of being a generalist, about the innovation that happens at the intersections of experience and expertise.

Specialized skills, generalized teams

Don’t mistake the “generalism” of Big Sea to mean we don’t have deep specialization in specific marketing modalities.

In fact, our individual team members are mostly highly-specialized in one particular area, with experience across all modalities. They are true “T-shaped people” with regard to particular skills (SEO, programming, content strategy), but form generalist teams with a wide range of experience.

Our people are specialists. Our teams are generalists.

Embrace the unknown

The truth is: when people are confused or unsure, they tend to stick with what’s most familiar. Familiar is comfortable; familiar is safe. Most niche marketers who work specifically in one or two industries focus on what’s familiar. They know that doing what the a company’s competitors are doing is just what’s necessary to keep a business afloat.

But is “afloat” enough? We don’t think so.

True impact begins when we look at those windows of opportunity that are opened by innovation and taking risks. When we get out from behind our routines and expectations.

What matters most is that marketers learn to truly understand how and why people make decisions in the industry for which they’re marketing. A generalist’s strengths lie in knowing how to ask the right questions, how to synthesize ideas and information, how to innovate fearlessly and how to adapt and pivot when necessary.

Isn’t that what you’d look for in a marketing partner? I hope so.