Is the B2B Marketing Services Industry Broken?


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I just read an interesting article at titled Is the Marketing Services Industry Broken? The article makes a rational case that services firms are failing to provide good value to their clients in many important ways. And while I believe many of these types of generalizations are tough to justify, there is indeed some truth in the article.

For one thing, marketing services firms fail to practice what they preach. They urge clients to pursue social media while letting their own efforts lapse.  When your agency tells you to blog when their last post was 3 months ago, they have a credibility gap. Likewise, when the company can’t articulate its own value proposition, how can you expect it to articulate yours? 

I spent a couple of decades on the client side before founding Fusion Marketing Partners and had the opportunity to work with marketing services firms ranging from mediocre to outstanding.  During this time, I found three fatal flaws of service providers that drove me up the wall– all of which I determined I would practice with my own clients, now that we are on the service provider side of the equation.

Fatal flaw 1: Lack of follow-through.  It is easy to make a promise, but often much harder to deliver on that promise.  Some providers are great at telling you what you want to hear but their delivery leaves much to be desired. Failure to deliver can occur on the big things (getting the press release out on time) or the little things (sending the report before the conference call).  Attention to detail is an attribute that I always valued highly and it is a mystery why more service providers don’t practice this trait.

Fatal flaw 2: Focus on what they know, not what you need.  Remember the old expression, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  This attitude certainly applies to service providers who have the desire to practice their hard-earned skills to benefit you, whether or not you actually need them.  The truth is that every company is different and requires a unique blend of strategies, tactics and media to meet its objectives.  In other words, “mi marketing mix is not su marketing mix.” Give me what I need, not what you are most comfortable with.  And if you are not good at something, tell me and help find the right provider for the project.

Fatal flaw 3:  No responsibility for results.  I understand that everything in B2B marketing is not a science – there is certainly a lot of art to be applied.  But the whole process works better when client and agency are equally focused on results, and do their collective best to ensure that quantifiable goals are achieved, whether measured in increased awareness, leads,  revenue, or whatever is mutually agreed upon. 

Anyway, that’s my short list. Regardless of whether you are a client or marketing services provider, none of us have it easy.  In my opinion, it is best to remove every obstacle that makes it difficult to achieve important results, so that we can truly say: “mi success su success.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners, a B2B marketing consulting firm and interim/fractional CMO. He blogs at Great B2B Marketing and you can follow him at Google+. Chris has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.


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