Why I’m a marketing specialist and not a generalist
A few times a month, I receive work inquiries about consulting with a company that is not in the coffee industry. They’ve sometimes found me through my writing on Sprout Social or through a google search. Some have even read my note about taking on only specialty coffee coaching clients, referencing the note in their form, and yet still email thinking that I am the solution to their problems.
I always say no. Why?
Being a marketing generalist just doesn’t work for me.
When you go into the consulting field, you have to make a million decisions. Two of them being who you want to work with and what services you can offer. The overlap between the two is your target clientele.
I was employed part-time at an agency that specialized in hospitality clients while I was also working in coffee. I wanted to get that agency experience and the hospitality clients included hotels, hotel restaurants/bars, and hotel spas across the US. In the agency work, I had five clients located in three different cities, multiple social media profiles per client, and all three types of hospitality clients. It was very difficult to curate content because I had to think about what a diner in Cincinnati might be interested in while also thinking about what a tourist in Seattle might want for a spa service. Juggling the multiple industries & cities plus keeping up with coffee was too overwhelming for me to manage.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 270k people employed as marketing managers. And that’s marketing managers alone, not even adjacent fields like consultants, advertising marketers, or influencers/content creators.
Someone who consults in food and drink businesses is still pretty generalized. Do they work with single-location restaurants? Do they know how a franchise would market? What about the advertising setup of a bar vs a manufacturer of blenders? There are SO MANY options here and advice would (hopefully) be varied between all these clients.
In order for me to deliver the best advice for my coaching clients, I choose to be selective. I do not feel comfortable advising a manufacturer of dog food because while I do have a dog, I know nothing about the dog food industry and could not possibly provide tailored advice. Even for an adjacent industry company like a distillery, I wouldn’t do. A) I don’t drink alcohol and B) you’ve got to be familiar with alcohol-marketing laws.
This is all to say that when you are looking for a marketing consultant (I’ve written about this topic), I believe that their field of expertise matters. In both services and clients. You wouldn’t want someone who knows email marketing to also design your website if that’s not in their skill set. You might get tolerable results but you wouldn’t get great ones unless you go to a website designer.
So yes, I could technically advise a restaurant but my advice would only go so far. I’d rather you spend the money on someone else who could give you more tailored, industry-specific advice. But that’s just me and I know there are consultants and social media managers who do generalized work.