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B2B Agencies League Table - what kind of agency are you?

Our B2B Agencies League Table is coming around again (frighteningly) soon, and that means (amongst other things) that its time once again to revisit the questions which always gets posed around this time of year: who should be included? And perhaps more importantly, who should not?

A bit of context: the B2B League Table was launched back in the pre-digital age (sometimes called the ‘good-old days’). If you’re old enough, you may remember that time – when there were clear divisions between different types of agencies: marcomms agencies did ads and DM, PR agencies did PR, telemarketing did telemarketing… etc. etc. The landscape was nice and simple, and so too was our League Table (only 20 agencies at the time).

But the digital revolution plus the credit crunch has turned all that on its head – the boundaries have blurred at best or in some cases been wiped out. Everyone’s doing a bit of everything in order to survive and/or grow – the days of the pure-play specialist are gone.

At the same time, there are new skills, techniques and ways of doing business that agencies have learned, which equate to new strings to their bows, and new ways of positioning themselves. In short, it’s a more complex environment than it used to be – our challenge in the League Table is to reflect that… and at the same time to be inclusive, to welcome everyone in. But it’s unwise to mix apples with pears, so in order to reflect this new environment, we’re proposing to get B2B agencies to align themselves with one of a list of descriptors which best reflects the its activities, outputs and culture.

Below is the provisional list – I’d love your thoughts or feedback on this. Do these terms stack up? Do the accurately reflect or cover the whole B2B agency scene? What have we missed? (We’re bound to have missed something…)

Creative marketing communications agency – focused on creating online and offline communications programmes and campaigns through a broad range of channels and techniques.
Brand agency – focused on brand and organisational strategy.
Marketing technology integrator – expert in implementing and optimising systems such as CRM, marketing automation, content management platforms.
Telemarketing agency – a specialist in inbound or outbound telephone-focused activity.
Public relations agency – focused on utilising third party editorial media to deliver brand messages.
Media agency – an expert in media buying and utilisation.
Content agency – an expert in content creation and deployment.

It’s worth me clarifying a couple of points at this stage:
1. We’re not saying some agencies won’t feel some overlap between these terms – they might do a bit of PR and a big of brand as well as marcomms. We’re just asking them to chose the term which best reflects their activities.
2. And we’re still going to publish the overall League Table and agency listing – in fact we’re looking to extend beyond the Top 50. But we’re also looking to create sub lead tables that allow practitioners from both sides of the client/agency fence to compare performance, profitability and services. And it should make fascinating reading for all.

I look forward to your feedback.