HomeBlog Don’t Hire a B-to-C Agency if You’re B-to-B

Don’t Hire a B-to-C Agency if You’re B-to-B

March 09, 2016 | By Cheri Keith

  • B-to-b organizations sometimes consider agencies or services providers without b-to-b expertise for marketing services
  • Selecting the wrong type of agency can be detrimental to a project because of the major differences between b-to-b and b-to-c work
  • Given complex b-to-b buying scenarios, it is best to select a partner with b-to-b experience

I was recently shopping for a new pair of trusty black patent shoes for work. As I was awaiting the salesperson’s return with a mound of shoes fitting the bill, my eyes began to wander. And wander they did, to the most amazing sandals the world has ever seen. I was imagining all the ways that they would be right. Who would even notice if they weren’t what I had headed to the store to buy? I sent a picture to my husband and, well, I can’t type what his response was here, but he reminded me of the repercussions of buying the wrong type of shoe for the occasion.

If you haven’t left yet to go do some shopping on Zappos, you’re likely interested in how this scenario relates to finding a marketing services provider or agency for your organization. Everyone always has a coworker who knows someone who works in an agency, and whether or not this connection has the appropriate b-to-b experience, the agency ends up getting an entry into the RFP process. Its presence can be a challenge for the team evaluating the agency because b-to-c agencies often have beautiful and exciting creative that wows crowds.

When evaluating any marketing service provider, consider the following two questions:

  • Does the agency understand b-to-b buying? Question the agency about its familiarity with b-to-b buying personas, buying stages and types of purchases. Most b-to-c agencies have a good handle on personas that b-to-b marketers would consider superficial, such as those that focus on customers’ demographics and relationship status. Their familiarity with core b-to-b concepts is critical in evaluating them.
  • This creative is super sexy… but will it resonate with my buyers? Ask for examples of how campaigns that have a consumer flair have fared with b-to-b audiences. Then, ask for more details on measurement – does it align with how you measure success? Consider if the type of buying scenario matches the problems you’re trying to solve.

Ask these questions in the presence of your team members who are likely to get swept away in their b-to-c dreams. It is incredibly difficult to address concerns about an agency once someone has their heart set on being the next Budweiser Super Bowl commercial. Be that reminder text before the final purchase of the shoes is made.

Have you ever hired a consumer-minded agency when you should have hired an agency or services provider with b-to-b experience? I’m interested in hearing your story. Please leave a comment.

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