Specialization Can Get Your Foot In The Door – But OVER-Specialization is a Trap

Conor McGregor

“I don't look at a man who's expert in one area as a specialist. I look at him as a rookie in ten other areas.” – Conor McGregor, Born Jul. 14, 1988.

Specialization is KEY in getting attention for your “brand” in a crowded market.

For some subset and segment of a given market, you are offering something that is MORE SPECIFIC to what they need than what any other generalist can compete with.

Many teach this. I teach this. But it is NOT the whole lesson…

Here is the danger: OVER-specialization can be a trap.

And letting other disciplines and skills wither in service of mastering your speciality is a definite road to ruin.

Instead of being seen as a specialist, you become mistaken for a limited provider INCAPABLE of doing anything else.

So remember…

Specialization gets your foot in the door, yes.

But once you're inside, you want to be able to address every need the client has that falls under your umbrella.

Unless you would rather they farm it out to someone else because you insist on being a one-trick pony.

But even then, it's better for you to have your own stable of trusted providers who YOU can farm out the work to if needed. YOU be the point of contact for YOUR client, and you outsource what you need, budgeting the cost so you keep a share for originating the project.

But I digress…

Don't be hard headed about your specialization even if it does become a powerful brand identifier for you. Yes, you specialize in a thing and do it exceptionally well… But you should be able to do ALL the other things just as well.

That's the proper way to do it.

I mean, what is the point of getting your foot in the door with a specialization if you're not there to do as much work as you can once you've opened the door?

A specialization should only ever create a “YES I do that AND also do everything…” situation. Never a “NO I don't do that, BUT I do this one thing…”

Are you a specialist? Or a jack-of-all-trades? Or do you agree that it's best to be both at once?

3 thoughts on “Specialization Can Get Your Foot In The Door – But OVER-Specialization is a Trap”

  1. First of all… I did NOT know Connor McGregor was born in 1988 (holy $hit I feel old).

    Next… this is one of the MOST clarifying posts on the nuances of specialization and positioning.

    The counter to this I’d ask folks to consider is learning how to use ALL and EVERY one of your little specialization tricks as entry points, as contextually appropriate.

    What I mean is, of course, you might have a “kitchen sink” thing, but getting the job sometimes requires you frame as the email person or the webinar ninja or the long form bad ass or whatever….

    The key is learning how to adjust for the fix for the situation.

    If you can do that effectively or at least point out when the specific expert resource is necessary, it further solidifies you as an expert worth listening to, imo.

    Anyways, love ya, Colin.

  2. This is gold, “Once I delivered on the thing they most wanted, they become amenable to giving me all the rest of the opportunities I teed up.”
    And this works especially well if they’re a good customer that approaches your business in good faith…ie let’s you operate in your zone of competence, implements your recommendations, pays you…etc.
    So let’s say you’re Dave the Bridal Jeweler in Podunk Idaho and your tagline is “Where Podunk gets Engaged”. You’ve just delivered a 2 carat diamond engagement ring for 27K to a happy couple and they’re wowed. And now the bride’s mother wants a ruby ring and matching ruby bracelet with high quality rubies…and she shows you a magazine pic of a stunning, high end brand ruby jewelry set with a tag price of 150K that she likes (really fine rubies cost more than diamonds) and asks you who you would recommend to make something like it for a budget of 80K because she’s looked in your cases and you don’t have a single piece of ruby jewelr Wow…an 80k sale like that would make your year. Plus…rubies are way more profitable than large diamonds. and even though you’re sure you could custom make the ring, you’re not sure about the bracelet. So should you make her an offer anyway? Of course you should. You’re still a jeweler…you do repairs and custom bridal. Get a ruby and bracelet expert if you have and contract it out but satisfy your valued prospect with a great offer.

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