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  • Alan Thorpe

Would you trust a general surgeon or a specialist? No? Then fix your B2B market positioning.

Updated: Jan 25



Over the last couple of weeks, we've been diving into how specialisation is the route to making sure that you get more opportunities through referrals, since you’ve delivered better outcomes for them making them more confident to ‘tell a friend’. And it's also, crucially, the route to making more money. Why? Because specialization reduces the chances of complications.

In his book ‘Complications’ Atul Gwande talks about the impact of specialisation in healthcare. He notes that survival rates after heart surgery and other operations are directly related to the number of procedures a surgeon has completed. And perfection? It’s about routinisation and repetition.

Some 40 years ago we had general surgeons who dealt with the hardened arteries in your leg at the same time also removing lung cancers. Now it's much more specialized. Let me just show you what the results are. Gwande quotes the Shouldice hospital in Canada where they focus on hernias. There it takes 30 to 40 minutes for an operation, costs about two thousand dollars, with a one percent failure rate. Non-specialists use often a very different technique. 90 minutes, $4000, 10 to 15% failure rates. The differences are huge in terms of not just competitiveness but plainly in outcomes for clients. And which patients are most likely to refer others?

Gwande's book includes a great quote from a Harvard paediatric surgeon. This surgeon explains how expertise develops because you see patterns, enabling true experts to move problem solving into automatic mode. It’s a bit like learning to drive. When you start out driving it’s a case of ‘if you can't find them grind them!’ But then it becomes automatic.

Most marketing, data, and consulting businesses are a little behind medicine. But the opportunity is right now, there, to stand out and cut through the noise of competition by become the best in your field for X. Your B2B Market Positioning should showcase your expertise, your specialism.

Next week I'm hoping to bring along a true global expert in his field. He's got lots of experience outside of his chosen area. But he’s learned to say ‘no’ to distractions that could dilute his expertise. A discipline that many of us lack! So that's what's going on next week.

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