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Marketing Generalist vs. Specialist – Who Is Better?


Assembling a strong marketing team is no walk in the park. Besides selecting the best talents, achieving a balance between specialists’ roles and the tasks assigned to them either makes or breaks your marketing efforts.

Specialists are great for specific processes and narrow directions, while generalists are men of all work that delegate team members and help everyone stay on board and reach common goals. There’s a flip side to it, too – specialists are rather weak at managing processes and won’t give you business growth as a whole, while generalists become a one-man army prone to lose once you leave them without people to manage.

In this article, we’ll look into the “marketing specialist vs. generalist” issue and give you some insights to figure out what’s right for you.


What Does A Marketing Specialist Do

Marketing specialists have deep expertise in one or two specific areas and are the opposite of “jack of all trades, master of none”. They focus on tasks within a specific discipline and build on them to strengthen the company’s marketing engine.

Content marketers, paid ads managers, SEO experts, and social media and influencer marketers are all examples of marketing specialists. You wouldn’t assign the tasks of one of these specialists to another because their skill sets simply don’t match. Let’s look at a few factors that clarify why having distinct roles is a better choice:

  • Switching roles harms productivity. As stated by the New York Times, only 2% of people are actually good at multitasking. The funny thing is that they’re the least likely to do it. And as for the remaining 98%, research says that the more you multitask, the more likely you are to go down in flames.
  • Immersion encourages unique expertise. Going deep into one channel of work, a marketer will have more chances to become an expert and make sense of the details that can be game-changing for the whole team. The same details a generalist is likely to miss or won’t get to altogether since they’re loaded with other tasks.
  • Some areas are too complex for a casual, generalist approach. For instance, Google and Facebook marketing services are among the top ones marketers implement. But these are not just tools – they’re entire platforms with stacks of products, for which you’d need someone adept with the algorithms. Or, if you’re geared towards hitting video content, an all-rounder won’t cut it.

Of course, not every company can afford a separate specialist for each role. A few roles can be merged, like copy and blog writing, photography and video content creation, graphic design and illustration, or even email and SEO marketing.

However, we recommend hiring members focused on each discipline if you have enough budget and plan to release big content volumes while using multiple marketing channels. Just one area – like SEO – includes many tasks like keyword research and integration, SEO content optimization, page speed improvement, title and description optimization, and overall URL optimization. And another example: PPC advertising. Here, a specialist has to run keyword research and audience analysis, create ad content and supervise the design, monitor campaign performance and optimize campaigns to get the best results. See? If you want in-depth expertise, a generic approach won’t do it.


Marketing Generalist: Benefits Of Hiring

So, what do you get out of hiring a marketing generalist? First, let’s note that instead of focusing on one or two disciplines like marketing specialists, generalists are more range than depth, and they extend their efforts across many areas within a company. What are the perks?

  • Seeing the bigger picture. Because generalists take over multiple channels and they’re able to see how all activities of a company work at large. They join the dots to offer strategic ways to consolidate marketing. This full-picture vision lets generalists help a particular branch out when the processes lack order and rearrange them in a way that boosts the brand as a whole. They basically make sure that everyone in the team stays on the same page.
  • Flexibility. With a spread-out approach, generalists are able to pick up different tasks and help others out when necessary. This is especially useful for aspiring startups – often, the amount of available resources doesn’t match the number of tasks, so marketers who can take over multiple branches are a good find.
  • Unity. Marketing generalists are the ones running the team. Their spread-out nature lets them organize and manage parts of the team that may not otherwise engage with each other. Plus, they help prioritize tasks. A strong marketing generalist is also good at interpreting large amounts of data and using those insights to move the needle on marketing operations throughout all channels.

Marketing Generalist Skills

Since marketing generalists cover a wider range of tasks, there’s a practical skill set that helps them maintain balance while performing their duties. Let’s take a look:

  • Assertiveness. Due to the fact that generalists are in charge of managing different parts of the team, they need to master assertiveness in case some team members hamper workflow.
  • Ability to prioritize. As a generalist, you’re likely to be everywhere at the same time, which makes the list of responsibilities seem never-ending. In this case, comparing the tasks at hand with the overall view and then prioritizing accordingly is the way forward.
  • Knowing vs doing. Interpreting data is one thing, but to go places, generalists have to know what to do with it. For instance, besides understanding the audience’s response to SEO efforts, valued generalists will also suggest ways to improve content delivery and share their insights across channels while also noting inconsistencies. This way, data gets used to counter low engagement and lead generation.

Hiring a generalist has meaning when you need to manage a workflow or a team of specialists, and create an overarching strategy. Keep in mind that for generalists, the bigger picture lies at the core of every task they attend to.



Your company’s goals and the resources available to you are the main aspects to consider when choosing your team members. With a clear perspective of your company’s structure, workflow, and future goals, you’ll be able to choose the right marketer that showcases your company’s strengths and leads you to business success.

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