I’ll often get asked, “have you ever worked in my business category?”

The answer is always, “yes.”

It’s a reasonable, but mostly irrelevant, question.

Many marketing companies claim to specialize in specific categories. Firms that only work with jewelers, car dealers, florists, or business-to-business companies.

All fine at what they do, but propagating a fallacy that marketing works differently for different businesses.

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It’s understandable to seek out a specialist. Who wants to spend time teaching some ad joker about the ins-and-outs of how a supermarket works? Or a law firm?

In reality…it’s all marketing. And it doesn’t vary business to business.

Even the differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing are negligible.

There’s nothing wrong with a “specialist,” but it presents some risks:

The Echo Chamber

In the interest of efficiency, these companies come up with “playbooks.”

“We pour your business into a mold and out comes a marketing plan.”

It’s efficient…but it isn’t yours.

Palpable Patterns

After churning out campaign after campaign, you start to notice your stuff looks strangely similar to others in your industry. The copy-catedness becomes so pervasive, it reverberates back to your town. Distinguishing you from your competitors becomes harder and harder.

A quick Google search for dentists in San Francisco immediately brought up a dozen logos all using a stylized drawing of a single tooth. That’s not good. That shouldn’t happen. Ever. Ever ever.


Soon, you find yourself in the hands of people who believe there’s only one way to get to get to Rome. This is the way it’s done. There is no other way. Anybody telling you different is an outsider who just doesn’t “get it.”

In spite of my stunning, youthful looks, I’ve been at this 35 years and can honestly say I’ve created ad campaigns for almost any business category you can name.

Yes…a funeral home.

Yes…a strip club.

(You were thinking it, so I answered it)

The secret is there is no secret.

The marketing rules don’t change.

You deserve a campaign that looks, feels, and sounds like you.

And you alone.

You opened a business because you bring something to the market nobody else does.

You’re scrappy.

A little ornery.

You march to your own drummer.

Following the same path “your industry” follows guarantees you’ll find your competitors on the same path.

The way to avoid the same-itude everybody else has fallen into is to pick up the snow globe and give it a good shake. Walk on the grass you’re not supposed to walk on. Put on your feisty-pants and break a rule or three. When two roads diverge in a yellow wood, don’t just take the one less traveled. Jump in a helicopter and head someplace completely different.

Quite simply, Marketing is:

1: Taking your product to market

2: Promising customers you’ll solve a problem or need they have

3: Fulfilling that promise

That’s true whether you’re selling caskets, cantaloupes, carpets, or cars.

The only “specialist” you need is the one who specializes in doing those things in a way that’s meaningful, memorable, all with a dash of mischief.

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