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After decades with big brands, I realized how much I love marketing small ones. I'm happiest around a table (even a virtual one) with clients, sharing plans that help them reach the right people. I'm a simplifier and a creator. Also, a lover of cute office supplies.

  • Writer's pictureStacy McPhillips

Which freelancer is better: a marketing generalist or a marketing specialist?

It depends.

I know, it's always an unsatisfying answer.

Also, please note that I am a freelance marketing generalist and am therefore biased towards generalists. 😘

But I shall try to remain neutral in giving some pros and cons of hiring a freelance/contract marketing generalist or marketing specialist.

What is a marketing generalist?

A marketing generalist is a marketer that has broad and likely pretty deep knowledge across most marketing functions.

For example, I had a 15+ year career in corporate marketing where I touched every aspect of marketing in some way.

Local store marketing? Yep.

Event marketing? Yep.

TV commercial production? That, too.

Developing marketing plans? Of course.

Target market research? Yep.

Email marketing? Duh.

Social media marketing? Who hasn't?

Website building? We probably know all the platforms.

And on and on and on.

When should you choose a marketing generalist?

If you need someone to partner with your business and help with your overall marketing, hire a marketing generalist.


  • You want to scale your marketing up

  • Want to be primarily hands-off in marketing

  • Need a marketing strategy to communicate to your audience effectively

  • Need a marketer to create a plan that ladders back to your business goals

  • Want to know what's working and what's not across marketing

You need a marketing generalist to be able to look at a high level and develop strategy and execute and measure how marketing is contributing to the achievement of business goals.

Here's a secret: A great generalist will know all the specialists.

It's me. I'm the great generalist. 😂 I've spent years getting to know specialists and can pull them in and recommend them as clients need them where I don't have expertise.


What is a marketing specialist?

A marketing specialist is a marketer who has deep, deep knowledge in one particular marketing area.

Here are some examples:

  • Paid media (ads on Google and social media)

  • SEO specialists (spend their time on the minute details of metadata)

  • Brand identity graphic designers (create logos, color palettes, fonts)

  • Public relations (these specialists have specific relationships)

  • Event management (uniquely equipped to handle everything that can go wrong at an event)

There's a niche for everything in marketing.

When should you choose a marketing specialist?

If you need help with something super specific in marketing, hire a specialist.

Here are some examples:

  • You've maxed out organic social media and are ready to start testing paid ads but don't know where to start.

  • You want someone to do an SEO audit of your website to see where you can improve.

  • You need help getting into a national industry publication.

  • You want to start selling on Amazon.

  • You want to work with TikTok influencers to create content to sell your product.

  • You want your website to look perfect on mobile.

  • You need technical writing for your specific industry.

  • You want to increase leads for your B2B Saas program.

  • You specifically want your website built on Squarespace with certain specialty functions.

These specialists can advise on this type of niche marketing tactics, evaluate their specific measurements, and recognize where it needs to be treated differently because of the audience.

Here's another secret: Sometimes, a specialist will send you my way because you haven't done the foundational work to succeed in the niche. Or because you're a hot mess and need a website but have no idea what to put on it. 🤣

So, do you need a marketing generalist or specialist?


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