(Image courtesy of Burns!)
Last Friday, my wife Amie and I went to see James Taylor in concert in Houston. While thoroughly enjoying the music being made by this icon and his band of legendary musicians, a thought struck me related to the discussion we had last week about the value of social media consulting as a profession: Just as a band is made up of individual musicians who each have expertise with particular instruments, within marketing there is a need for specialists with expertise in various disciplines.
For example, among the members of James’ band was saxophonist Lou Marini, known as “Blue Lou.” If you’ve ever seen the Blues Brothers movie or watched Saturday Night Live, you’ve seen Lou. During the concert, he played every instrument in the saxophone family and even played flute during one song.
However, had James taken the guitar from bass player Jimmy Johnson and placed it in Lou’s hands, I wonder what might have happened. Each of the musicians had developed his skill with a given instrument or set of instruments to a high degree. Switch the instruments and I doubt the concert would have been nearly as enjoyable.
Similarly, think about the various areas of specialization within online marketing: Web design, web development, SEO, PPC, social media, analytics, brand reputation monitoring, PR, copywriting, media buying, video production, and the list goes on. Look at any large agency, and you’re likely to find each of those disciplines represented. The same may also be true of corporate marketing departments.
I tend to work with small agencies that don’t typically have someone well-versed in social media. Hence, the need to bring in a specialist. Where small businesses I work with are concerned, in those areas where I lack demonstrated expertise, I broker work out to other specialists.
That is not to suggest marketers shouldn’t seek to gain expertise in a number of areas. I consider myself more of a generalist with specialist tendencies. It’s ludicrous to think any one person can do all things well, however. We are not one man bands.
In summary, whether its an agency setting or a corporate marketing department, I prefer to think of marketing like I would a musical group. Each team member comes with a particular skill-set that has been crafted and honed over several years. Social media is now included as one of those areas where expertise is needed.
Speaking of which, if you represent a small agency, small business or corporate marketing department in need of help with social media, please keep me in mind.
PS: Here’s my favorite James Taylor tune, Traveling Star.