Motive: The rise of the full-service B2B agency
Across Europe and the US, full-service B2B agencies have started their own race, with a growing global acknowledgment that B2B marketing and advertising needs are fundamentally different compared to marketing to the B2C market.
Market has matured
Here at home, the larger agencies which have traditionally worked on B2C campaigns in the mass retail, financial services and FMCG space have historically handled B2B campaigns out of necessity, long before the rise of the B2B agency, and with varying levels of success. And, for a while, traditional agencies were able to dress B2B campaigns in a one-size-fits-all strategy.
But the market has matured and changed substantially since then.
It’s not necessarily a critique of the traditional agency either; the reality is that the brand challenges are different and it’s causing the industry offerings to shift. A brand comes to an agency to solve a problem and the B2B challenge needs to be given the respect it deserves and treated differently. Certainly, the decision-maker of a business who is making purchasing decisions is still a consumer at the end of the day, but money changes hands with context. What she buys in her personal capacity vs the decisions she needs to make as the FD of a large corporate are fundamentally different. What she is buying in the context of her business is very different to the context of her life.
Smaller market size
The nature of a B2B transaction is lengthier and often involves multiple stakeholders. On top of that, the B2B market size is significantly smaller than the B2C landscape, which targets millions of customers while the enterprise space targets a couple of thousands in comparison. With a smaller and more-targeted audience, the opportunity to measure campaign results now exists and the demand for detailed outcomes is a key component to any campaign.
B2B agencies should understand measurement and know how to track campaigns. Not just clicks, views and engagements but actual sales. Today, the B2B agency has a different landscape in which to maneuver. Marketers are marketing to C-Suite execs who are already time-starved, so to get an hour to pitch to them is complicated and tactical. C-Suite execs are demanding more from their agencies — and, of course, for less.
As always, the South African market moves quickly to maintain global relevance and local brands are starting to see that, with the fundamental differences in their B2B environments and challenges, there is a need for a different agency.
Writing is on the wall
A few months ago, MarkLives announced that the Absa Barclay Africa account was up for grabs and, for the first time, rather than splitting the business between ATL and BTL agencies, the company was wanting one B2B custodian and a separate B2C agency. [The winning agencies, one for B2B and one for B2C, were announced yesterday, Wednesday, 24 August 2016 —ed-at-large.]
The writing is on the wall — the full-service B2B agency is in demand. Brands are savvier than ever before about the agencies they need and the results they want.
Warren Moss (@) is founder of Demographica, a full-service B2B and niche-market agency. He is also the chairman of the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards (Assegais).
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.