Breadth vs Depth – A Vote for Smarts and Chemistry.

May 12, 2009

I’ve thought about this question a great deal, mostly from the perspective of Summit’s positioning.  Finally, I threw the question out to my LinkedIn network – a savvy group of people – and just as I expected, I received a flurry of answers touting the benefits of one over the other or going for the Holy Grail, as defined by McKinsey’s Concept of T, and demanding both.

It seems that I am not the only one struggling with this question.

Recently we have been in talks with a bio-tech firm about helping them penetrate a new market.  Their legitimate concern is how they will trust that we can guide them if we aren’t deep experts in their vertical.

Now mind you, this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this hesitation.  It’s tricky to address your prospects’ concerns about your level of expertise in their industry. 

Clearly, if you view Summit’s client list, you’ll see breadth. But we also have very deep marketing and PR knowledge.  And more importantly, I believe smarts and chemistry are far more critical success factors than either breadth or depth.  It’s hard to accomplish great things with someone who doesn’t inspire you.

So ask if your marketing partner is smart enough and experienced enough to access the minds of the experts in the targeted industry.  And, is the chemistry between you one that breeds success?

You, as the company, know your industry better than anyone else, save analysts. If you hire someone with deep industry knowledge, you get that same knowledge, but may run the risk of getting a bit of “group think”.  If you have someone smart who can ask the tough questions, you may discover what you don’t know or find that ‘testing’ your resolve is an additional benefit – right along with that really effective lead generation campaign you requested.

My network generously pointed out that arguments can be made for either and/or both. But no matter what you believe, never settle for anything less than smarts and great chemistry.

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