These days the traditional services offered by an agency aren’t enough. Clients want more. As clients build out their capability with internal agency functions, they’re looking to external partners that are more than just service providers. They’re looking for insight, innovation and ways to accelerate their growth.
More and more, clients are bringing services in-house – certainly the bigger clients we deal with. They’re dedicating teams to content, digital advertising and creating, or acquiring, their own internal agency to service their extended marketing teams. So where does this leave the humble old agency? Pretty humble, I’d say.
What we’ve found is that value is paramount, but what does that look like? We’ve been looking at the value we offer and we’ve been speaking to our clients to understand the challenges they face and where we can really support them.
What we discovered was that our clients are doing so much in-house. They’re developing their own capabilities and areas of expertise, whether that be digital experts for advertising, content writers, in-house design teams or dedicated data analysists for marketing performance. With this brings their own depth of expertise, but that’s often either too broad and they’re often only just skimming the surface, or too inwardly focused. To be frank, they’re just too busy to stop, evaluate and innovate.
Our clients tell us they want to do as much as they can in-house. One marketing leader recently told me,
I’m really proud of how far we’ve come, the team have improved so much. We are now delivering some really good marketing, but it’s not exceptional yet. The challenge is we don’t know what we don’t know or what we should be exploiting next.
And there’s the flipside, they’re often too focused on the business and expanding their knowledge about their internal systems and products. This leaves blind spots as they don’t get a wider perspective from utilising the experience of an external partner that can bring deep expertise from a wide range of similar clients and industry knowledge.
What we offer is that, but also the ability to share our knowledge and bring new, effective ways of working that improve, expand their knowledge and offer value. More importantly, we offer time back to our senior clients as they know their teams are supported and that they’ll get new innovations incorporated into their processes. That’s about helping our clients move from A to B – whether capability-wise, culturally or through new processes and analyses.
As part of our discussions with our clients and prospects, their challenges aren’t necessarily ‘how can I generate more leads’, the challenges are typically deeper than that. Here’s what they’re striving to uncover:
1. Market insight, including understanding their buyer, particularly in new markets
As clients are expanding, either through acquisition or new product development, there’s always the challenge of addressing new audiences. Whether it’s a new space that you’re moving into, a new market or shifting from functional to strategic messaging, there’s always the challenge of conveying that to the executive team, the sales team and for it to trickle down to all facets of the marketing department and what they produce.
2. Converting leads at the appropriate time in their journey
For so long leads have been the priority, but we all know it’s easy to get leads if you pay for them. Budgets are tight and need to be used in smart ways, so our clients are looking for ways to only engage with those at the relevant point in their journey – rather than all potential audiences. By being more specific, targeted or using AI to identify prospects who show intent enables better conversion and ensures budgets go further.
3. Personalising the customer experience – yes, even in B2B
Website personalisation has been tried and tested in B2B, yet there’s very few organisations who are really able to pull it off in a way that’s manageable with an enterprise content management system on a global scale. (If you have managed it, I’d love to hear from you). Yet, as marketers, we know personalisation works and if we can improve the experience, the response will be better. With our clients we’re delivering AI solutions that do deliver a 121 personalised website experience enabling us to rewrite the personalisation playbook. The result is more engaged prospects and accelerated time from MQL to SQL.
4. Applying marketing automation techniques effectively
We’ve all got a marketing automation platform, but let’s be honest, are you really getting all you want from it? Most of the marketing leaders we’re talking to aren’t. Whether it’s better email communications sequences, increasing the velocity of leads through the funnel, or pushing the data and getting the management information you need – there’s always a challenge.
5. Volume and quality of leads
Ah, that old chestnut! Whoever has enough leads!? We recently spoke with a prospect who wanted over 11,000 leads per quarter for a niche enterprise software product – that just falls short of madness and the budgets to achieve it would be silly. More often than not, it’s not about ‘spray and pray’, but being more targeted and smart with audiences as well as the demand funnel modelling you’re applying. Digital interactions, AI and the wonderful cookie give us a plethora of information to enable smarter targeting; and virtually every marketing leader we talk to wants that – less wastage, better use of marketing dollars and ultimately higher ROI.
6. Exploiting the latest technology or channels
We’re swimming in a sea of marketing technology and marketing leaders are really feeling it. Our clients and prospects are auditing and reviewing their martech stack all the time – always seeking value, better integration, more visibility and greater efficiency. As a significant drain on their budget, they’re looking to reassess, ensure budgets are maximised and they’re keen to use what they have effectively.
Based on this feedback, services simply aren’t enough. Clients want best practice, insight into what other similar clients are doing, what marketing technology solutions work and how to apply best practice. That’s why we’ve extended beyond simply services to include products that enhance the customer experience, benchmarks that enable our clients to compare themselves to their peers, and products that accelerate growth.
We’re using a suite of demand generation tools, some proprietary, some third party, alongside proven insights methodologies and data analysis solutions. Clients are getting answers, they’re accelerating their growth and tackling their biggest challenges – more importantly, we’re giving them back time, adding capability and bringing innovation into their marketing.
Here are few examples:
- Personalised one-to-one experiences based around conversations on websites which make the conversion time from lead to SQL minutes, rather than weeks.
- Identifying those with purchase intent to enable campaign targeting to be laser-focussed using AI.
- Customer assessment tools that create value for prospects and insights for sales.
- Time-to-value and ROI calculators for value that prospects can see immediately.
- Buyer identification framework that overlays psychometric data for improved messaging.
Times are changing. And yes, as a B2B agency we still do services and lead generation campaigns. But we now do so much more. Let’s grow wiser, stronger and faster – together.