The Demand Agency of the Future

by / Aug 31, 2020

Recently, B2B Marketing asked me what the demand agency of the future will look like. The current dynamic of remote work, increased digital transformation and evolving marketing plans have further solidified my point of view that B2B clients need cohesiveness and accountability in an agency partner now more than ever.

The agency model pendulum has swung from the large AORs of yesterday to teams of siloed specialist agencies most clients work with today. A million different factors drove this evolution, but our industry has come to accept it nonetheless: The agency that excels at branding is not your demand generation agency, or your digital agency. This leaves clients responsible for engaging the brand people, the demand team and the digital experts separately as needs arise — and for doing the legwork to align them all.

Looking at the agency ecosystem today, I see inefficient separation between critical functions and unnecessary niches and specialties cropping up in between. One of the most detrimental outcomes is a lack of accountability. When each agency is only responsible for a portion of an overall objective, none of them own the results. This, too, falls on our clients’ shoulders.

The B2B agency of the future is not a niche and not a jack-of-all-trades. It’s one that excels in a core set of B2B competencies — brand, demand, digital and sales enablement.

Marketers’ goal to prove ROI and drive growth while tackling complex and sophisticated digital transformations will continue to challenge this niche model and force a shift. From my point of view, the B2B agency of the future is not a niche and not a jack-of-all-trades. It’s one that excels in a core set of B2B competencies — brand, demand, digital and sales enablement. The agency of the future takes the burden of responsibility off the client. And it holds itself accountable for delivering results. Niche needs will still arise, but that ideal agency will engage specialists they vet themselves, set expectations, and let the client feel their load lightened.

This isn’t a “fully integrated agency” or “full-service agency.” This is an Intelligently Integrated Agency with mastery of the core services B2B clients need. An agency with the vision to drive your entire program forward, the ambition to beat your expectations rather than meet its own revenue goals, and the willingness to cover additional territory (in ability or geography) by partnering with experts when needed.

This isn’t a 'fully integrated agency' or 'full-service agency.' This is an Intelligently Integrated Agency with mastery of the core services B2B clients need.

Not every agency will evolve to this model easily. But those built on a foundation of discipline and accountability will embrace it. The agencies that know the details of your sales team’s typical day just as intimately as the big promise of your brand. The ones that thrive on the real-life machinations that make customers take action. The ones that do nothing without first developing a deep understanding of your market and your business.

For my money, demand gen agencies are most likely to succeed. Some demand gen shops will stay niche. But a select few will own the future. I’m talking about the ones that dream big about the ideal customer experience and work backward through the actions and triggers that make it happen. The demand gen agencies that excel at developing and activating brands that get the job done, holding creative accountable across the funnel. You will know you’ve found that agency when they know your business as well as you do. Marketers, you deserve that moment now more than ever. Don’t settle for less.

Tony Riley

Partner & Agency President,

Tony began his advertising career after serving as an active-duty U.S. Marine. His experience includes working with a range of clients from startups to Fortune 100s in both the B2C and B2B arenas, covering direct and brand advertising. At The Mx Group, Tony works across account, strategy, creative, media and production teams to deliver a best-in-class experience and work product for clients. He oversees relationships with The Mx Group’s global agency partners and is viewed as an adviser to some of the agency’s most senior clients. His innate ability to create successful sales and marketing strategies is the result of sound leadership, a passion for B2B and a belief in doing what is best for clients.