How to market yourself when you’re a generalist

Common business advice says to focus and specialize. But what if you don’t want to? What if you want to be a generalist? What if you offer multiple services or modalities? Video below, scroll for the text version.

Highlights

  • The essence of self-employment success
  • The key to effective marketing
  • 3 ways to “specialize” while remaining a generalist

Self-employment success, simplified

Sometimes we over-complicate things. Especially those of us who are deep thinkers.

It can be really really helpful and grounding to remember the essence of what successful self-employment looks like.

This is the essence of a self-employed business. Don’t over-complicate things!

You perform a service for your client. You do something for them. You help them get something they want or solve a problem them have.

Your client pays you. That’s your business revenue.

Do this often enough, for enough money – and you have a successful business.

For this to work, you need to remember ONE very important thing:

The thing that you offer has to be something that people want to buy

Need a dog walker? I’m a dog walker! Ah…if only it were so simple for XKG practitioners…

People buy what they want to buy.

If they don’t understand it, if they can’t see how it will help them, if it doesn’t meet a need or desire that they have right now, they’ll pass.

You need to describe what you do in terms of what they understand, what they’re looking for.

If they were to ask a friend for a referral, what would they ask for?

If they were to use Google to find your service: what would they type in that little box?

This is easy peasy when you do one thing that people understand and ask for:

  • I need a bookkeeper!
  • I need a Realtor!
  • I need a dog walker!

If you’re a bookkeeper, Realtor or dog walker – communicating your offer is simple.

It gets complicated when you’re a generalist and you do multiple things. Or you do something unusual that most people haven’t heard of.

In these cases, your marketing and communication is more challenging and more important.

The key here, as always, is to clearly offer something that your potential clients WANT. The thing that they are LOOKING for. The thing they ask for, search for.

You can be a generalist in what you do, as long as your services are packaged and described in terms of what your potential clients want.Click To Tweet

Here are 3 ways to talk about what you do when you do lots of things

1. Lead with one thing (but sell everything)

Yes! I advertised a bike for sale. I also have this other cool stuff you might be interested in…

You don’t have to specialize your entire business, just choose one thing to put on the sign over your door.

Then, when they walk into your “store” – they see the other things!

Your sign says “websites” – once they get inside, they see graphic design and social media marketing.

Promote yourself as an acupuncturist – and also offer Reiki, massage, TCM and reflexology.

Be the fitness trainer who also offers nutrition consulting and life coaching.

The other services you offer can be used in your marketing to set you apart from the specialists who only do one thing or they can provide add-on sales to clients.

Important to remember here: choose once and don’t switch. Get known for one thing.

How to choose?

What do most clients ask for? What do they understand? What is easiest to sell?

2. Sell the result or desire

This looks great! Can I fax it to someone? (Actual question from my first website client 1994)

Don’t talk about your services directly, instead – talk about what those services do for people.

Our web builder, graphic designer social media person might say one of these:

  • Create an online presence
  • Market your business online
  • Get more visibility

Our life coach nutritionist fitness trainer might say:

  • Lose weight
  • Win the competition
  • Get healthy and vibrant to live your best life ever

If you do something unusual that no one has heard of…this is really your only option.

If you’re the leading authority in XKG methodology and your potential clients have no idea what that is…they won’t be looking for it. So sell the result they get from the methodology or the problem it solves.

When I started doing websites in 1994 – no one knew what they were. They were looking for “advertising” or “marketing” – so I sold websites as a way of advertising or marketing.

Now that websites are mainstream and people KNOW they need one, it’s easier to simply sell websites.

The important thing here: your clients need to be looking for and asking for that result or desire.

This is why knowing your ideal clients is so important.

3. Be the one stop shop

It’s so great to be able to get all of my stuff at one place!

Sometimes this is exactly what people are looking for. All the services under one roof.

They don’t want to hire 3 different professionals to do their online marketing: they’d love to have one person who can handle everything.

They want to make a big change in their life, but can only afford to work with one type of coach: how awesome that you coach in 3 different areas!

Important to remember: what you offer needs to align with what people WANT.

If they WANT a specialist, chances are good you’ll lose out on that business if you offer the one stop shop.

(Keep in mind, that conversely, the specialists will lose out on the folks looking for the one stop shop!)

That’s OK. You can’t serve everyone.

One gotcha: there needs to be a thread

All of this presumes that your multiple services fit together in some way to serve the same type of clientele.

If you offer vastly different, unrelated services to completely different types of clients, trying to put them together isn’t going to work.

But if you offer a number of different services that address the same problem or are logically purchased together by the same people, you don’t have to specialize in one of them – you can successfully market yourself as a generalist.

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