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    Skot Waldron
    By Skot Waldron

    We Don't Remodel Break Rooms. We Solve Problems.


    I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I’ve been struggling with this whole “specialization” topic for the last year. I hear and read all of these marketing consultants talking about how we need to “specialize” in a particular industry. We need to become “experts” in (fill in the blank). Ugh.

    I get it. I can see how it works for some agencies. I do. But, for the past 25 years, Multiple has NOT specialized in any particular industry. We “specialize” in delivering quality brand and marketing programs driven by thorough research, solid messaging, smart design, and comprehensive reporting. I have a really hard time when I read crap like this from our amazing and wonderful partners at HubSpot when trying to make the point that you shouldn’t try to specialize in multiple services (Note: we are a certified HubSpot partner, so we actually really do love them):


    “When’s the last time you heard someone ask, 'Do you know of any great massage therapists who can also cut my hair?'

    Or 'I just wish my physician could fill this cavity after we’re done with my yearly physical?'

    Most people don’t trust people who claim to be experts in multiple services or skills.”


    First of all, don’t start out your argument with a weak example. In the example above, the writer is talking about someone trained in a particular job and performing services outside of that job. I am in no way going to offer a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy (which we are trained in because we are designers and marketers) and also remodel my client’s break room (which we are not trained in).

    What I think Mrs. HubSpot Writer was trying to say throughout the article is pick an industry and skill, and stick with it. Pick a skill? Ok. Pick an industry? For some, I know that works. For others, it’s too confining.


    It’s About Problem Solving

    Massage therapist:

    • massages (service, or what they do)
    • help reduce pain and discomfort (the problem they solve)
    • make day to day living more comfortable (why the do it)

    A great massage therapist doesn’t only do massages (service) for people in the healthcare industry. They understand a particular problem (shoulder pain, neck pain, etc.) and help to solve that problem to make day to day living for that person more comfortable. Does it help if that massage therapist “specializes” in working with people in the dental industry? Possibly. But why would they do that? Dental hygienists are going to have relatively the same issues as everyone else in the world. The problem is the same. The cause of the problem may be different.

    Our clients generally have the same problems. The causes of those problems are what may be unique.

    We are like the massage therapist. We provide a particular service, that solves a problem, to bring some kind of benefit to you. We have a process as well as tools we use (just like a massage therapist uses charts or their hands) to help solve your marketing pain. We don’t care if you’re in the healthcare, finance, education, or any other industry. What we do, how we do it, and why we do it doesn’t change.

    Mrs. HubSpot Writer goes on to say:


    “We want to choose a provider of services based on their qualifications and expertise to solve our specific problem. We want to have a strong reason for going with this provider over that.”

    Exactly! We want our clients to base their decisions on our qualifications and expertise to solve their specific problems. NOT their specific industry. We don’t claim to be experts in any one industry, and we feel that makes us a lot more valuable to you as a marketing partner. (You can read more about it in a post I wrote here.) When it comes to branding and digital marketing, we have the qualifications, and we for damn sure have the expertise. Plus, people like us. And that always sweetens the deal that much more.



    Yes, I’m venting a little. I’ve been sitting on the fence for a bit trying to weigh the pros and cons of “specializing”. This article made me think that much more about it, and has convinced me (for now anyway) that “specializing” in a particular industry is for medical device companies and manufacturers of car steering wheels, not for us. We “specialize” in solving brand and marketing problems for our clients. Not break room remodels.


    Take a peek at our non-industry specific client list to see what I mean.



    Ahold USA


    Aion Solutions

    Adello Biologics

    Advance Illinois


    Alcon Laboratories


    American Bar Association

    American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

    American Marketing Association

    American Planning Association


    Amica Mature Lifestyles



    Appleton Coated



    Atlanta Mission

    The Atlantic Philanthropies

    AV Chicago



    BC Cancer Agency

    BC Children’s Hospital Foundation


    Bernice Wahler Landscape

    Black Blanket Farms

    Bobby Dodd Institute

    Bopomo Pictures


    Bright Hope International

    British Columbia Real Estate Association

    Broderbund Software

    Brown Shoe

    Calgary Academy

    Cambridge Integrated Services Group

    Career Education Corporation

    Center for Public Integrity

    Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

    CEOs for Cities

    Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

    Charming Shoppes

    CHC Helicopter

    Chicago Community Trust

    Chicago Loop Alliance

    Children’s Home + Aid

    Chicago Public Education Fund

    The Children’s School

    Chiquita Brands

    Cisco Systems

    The Coca-Cola Company

    Columbia College Chicago

    Come & Dish

    Department of Fisheries and Oceans

    DePaul University

    Devon Energy

    Discovery Charter School


    eGate Solutions


    Finning International

    Florsheim Group


    Cincinnati, OH

    Fox River Paper

    Fresenius Kabi USA

    Gallagher Bassett

    Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

    Georgia Institute of Technology



    Graphis Inc.

    Great Lakes Protection Fund

    Greater Chicago Food Depository


    Healthcare REIT


    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    i.c. Stars


    Ignite Progress

    Illinois Works for the Future

    Indiana University

    Indiana University–Purdue University

    Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

    International Truck


    iQue Repair

    Ivanhoe Mines


    JP Morgan Chase

    Klein and Hoffman

    Lincoln National


    Loewen Windows

    Lyric Motion

    Marathon Pharmaceuticals


    Meinhardt Fine Foods




    The Nantucket Project

    The Nature Conservancy


    NCR Corporation

    Norske Canada

    Northwestern University




    The Ounce of Prevention Fund

    Oxbow Social Media Monitoring

    PaineWebber Group


    Paragon Pharmaceutical Capital

    Pearson Education



    Perkins + Will


    PGA Tour



    Preservation Compact



    Protox Therapeutics

    Prudential Insurance

    Public Broadcasting Atlanta


    QLT Inc

    Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver

    Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

    The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation

    Ringling College of Art + Design

    Robert Bosch Tool Corporation

    Rotary International

    Royal Caribbean Cruises

    RR Donnelly & Sons

    RTC Inc.

    Scandent Group

    Scientific Games

    Sedgwick Claims Management Services


    Security Point Media

    Sesame Workshop

    Sierra Wireless


    Silver Standard Resources

    Simpson Paper

    Smart Papers

    Society of Graphic Designers of Canada

    Society of Thoracic Surgeons

    Spertus Institute

    Success by Six – United Way

    Swiss Army Brands

    Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation





    Terra Foundation

    Thomson NETg

    TIR Systems


    ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance

    Urban Juice & Soda

    University of Chicago

    University of Illinois at Chicago

    Vancouver Art Gallery


    World Business Chicago

    Wolters Kluwer


    XRS Corporation


    Want to learn more about creating a solid marketing strategy that will give you more overall structure and piece of mind? You can read The 5 Step Process For a More Structured Marketing Strategy eBook for a more in-depth discussion of these concepts and how you can begin to implement them. 


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