Let’s say you and I are on the phone talking about business. During our chat you mention that you have an annoying cough that won’t go away, and that you intend to go to the doctor. Your comment reminds me of a great doctor who I go to. He is my general practitioner and is absolutely the best. He is located in Boonton, NJ and I couldn’t recommend him more highly. I can even get you an appointment tomorrow. Would you go see him? Probably not. In fact almost definitely not.

Why? Because he is a general practitioner. Sure he is great, but there are tons of great general practitioners. And for you to make the ridiculously long trip to Boonton, NJ (Where the hell is that anyway?) makes no sense.

This is what defines the problem of the general practitioner. He attracts patients (customers) who are looking for a doctor that is convenient and cheap. In other words, the customer wants a “good enough” doctor who is within a few minutes drive and has a low co-pay.

Now let’s say you and I are having the same conversation but when mention your cough, you say that you are fearful of a heart condition. You say that the unstoppable cough is an early indication of a major heart problem. Your comment reminds me of a great doctor I go to. She is a world class heart surgeon and is on the bleeding edge of heart health. She is located in Boonton, NJ and I couldn’t recommend her more highly. I can even get you an appointment tomorrow. Would you go see her? Hell yes!

When you life is on the line, you want a specialist. You want someone who can heal you permanently. You will got to practically any length to save your life (or the life of a loved one).

This is what defines the power of the specialist. She attracts patients (customers) who are looking for a proper and complete fix. Money and distance becomes almost irrelevant. Expertise is what matters. The specialist attracts customers with a special, specific need and who will go to extraordinary means to acquire the special services they need.

This situation, of course, is not unique to doctors. It is true of all markets, all industries and all businesses (including yours). So my question is this: Are you the generalist who cares for the general needs of a general community, or are you the world renowned specialist who addresses a very specific need for a very specific customer?

It better be the latter. Otherwise you will learn the other lesson from doctors: Generalists have so little money they struggle to pay off their medical school loans, while the specialists have so much money they get their names put on the school buildings.