The clients we’ve consulted to in the past 20 years typically don’t engage a marketing agency directly and it’s interesting to unpack the ‘why’ of this.

What it boils down to is that the people who own and run B2B SMEs and the people who set up marketing agencies are, generally, very different types of people – and the gap is pronounced. The SME B2B manager or owner is most often an ambitious, task oriented, adept problem solver who lives and breathes their world, and marketing creatives are immersed in their creative world. When those worlds come together, the different languages they speak can create a very jarring and challenging experience because both sides don’t quite know how to engage with each other.

Larger companies typically team up with a bigger marketing agency, one which can employ more people with a broader skillset and offer more services because its clients are sizeable. These companies typically have larger budgets and employ a marketing director internally who will do all the work to find the right suppliers and manage costs while working with the agency. 

SMEs, however, work with smaller marketing agencies (there’s many of them, each occupying a different niche based on their creative skillset). These agencies aren’t usually big enough to allow them to offer clients a person who will perform the marketing director role – and the clients don’t have a person internally taking on that role. So, they’re forced to work directly together.

Some SMEs will expect their smaller marketing agency to do all the tasks a marketing director should do. The creative marketing team knows they need the data from those tasks but, because they can’t deliver it, they jump into creative execution (what they really want to do) without all the pieces coming together properly. This is purely to do with the size of the organisations and where they make their money but, nevertheless, it causes significant tension.

These tensions are real and they’re worth acknowledging because we need these smaller marketing agencies to set up their vital businesses. Recognising the limitations that come from their size is essential though, so we can plug the gap that exists between the agency and the client.

One of those gaps is working with freelancers, which is increasingly critical in this content thirsty marketing world. And good freelance designers, writers, photographers, videographers, and web developers are working from home now more than ever. This gives these professionals (many of whom prefer not to work directly with clients as that’s not their skillset or preference) great flexibility but it does make it that little bit harder for SMEs to work with these important subcontractors.

Plugging the agency – B2B client gap means finding a person, one who’s not necessarily creative, to take on that marketing director role and bring to it an objective business mind. This person will then find and brief the right creatives who can deliver within the client’s budget and work them over time to get the right results. This person will help the SME business make the decisions it needs to make and shield them from having to directly deal with the necessary creative people they need on board, to get a better outcome.

This is the role our Group has been playing for a long time; we love this role and are set up to do it. We thrive on using our expertise to source the best people to get the best results for our clients so we can foster good engagement with a business’ target audiences, which is crucial.

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