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The whys and hows of transitioning from B2C to B2B marketing.

When Intel announced last November that it would be scaling back its in-house agency and devoting fewer resources to consumer-facing marketing, the decision seemed to go against the grain.

After all, a recent survey by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that in the past five years, 44% of U.S. marketers are no longer outsourcing their marketing activities to external agencies, opting for the in-house alternative instead. But dig a little deeper and Intel’s choice makes a lot of sense.

While in-house agencies have been on the rise, this doesn’t mean that they are entirely up for the job. According to a report by the In-House Agency Forum and Forrester, 67% of internal agencies say that they are not adequately staffed to deal with the demands of the business. 

And Intel — previously the poster child for running a successful in-house marketing agency — recognised this gap in efficacy by making the choice to disassemble its own internal creative team, defying industry trends in the process. 

This move followed the tech giant’s decision to refocus its attention and resources from consumer-facing marketing to B2B. Here’s why: B2B marketing generally involves a longer path to purchase, which nullifies a key benefit of in-housing — the ability to react quickly to market trends and pump out new campaigns.

By partnering with external agencies, B2B brands open themselves up to an abundance of expertise in marketing strategy. The very nature of B2B marketing makes brands and their external agencies a compatible duo — a fact reaffirmed by Intel’s recent restructuring.

Following this shakeup in the marketing sphere, a window of opportunity has opened up for B2C agency marketers to make the transition to B2B. Let’s be honest — B2B has long been misconceived as the boring sister of B2C.

But creativity forms as much a part of the B2B marketing process as its consumer-facing counterpart. The line between the two is becoming increasingly blurred as the tonalities of B2C advertising extends to the B2B space.

And frankly, it’s just logical — at the end of the day, it’s always people that you’ll be talking to. 

B2B is attracting more talent – but what’s the transition into this burgeoning industry like? We spoke to Caroline O’Grady, Senior Account Manager of Atomic Beta, who made the move from B2C to B2B marketing a few years ago, to discuss the adjustment and the emerging opportunities available to B2B marketers.

Hi Caroline, can you tell us why you made the move from B2C marketing to B2B marketing?

I started out at Atomic as an intern nearly four years ago on the consumer team, but as the years went on as an agency we began to focus more and more on B2B. Gradually we found that the B2B work was ramping up while B2C was requiring us to spend a lot of time and effort on project proposals that may or may not be picked.

Whereas in B2B, clients go more so on expertise or who they see as the agency most qualified to do the job. So eventually, the agency work and my role shifted naturally from consumer to B2B marketing. 

What would you say are the main differences between B2B and B2C? 

I see B2B marketing as being a lot more creative because you’re not stuck with the same outputs as consumer marketing might have — you have to be innovative with how to get to that B2B customer. There’s usually more budget to spend too so the campaigns are bigger, more impactful, and the clients do lend themselves to creativity.

Another difference with consumer agencies is the specialisation of B2B agencies. We are one of the first, and one of the few, B2B agencies in Ireland. I think because of that specialisation we are definitely seen as the experts — we are more so a partner than a supplier. 

Did anything surprise you about B2B marketing?

I think people have the misconception that B2B can be a bit dusty and stale when it really isn’t like that. B2B is exciting as it is more of an open space for growth; as companies start to focus more on B2B they’re ramping up their creative efforts and ways to get through to their customers. So the reach of B2B is a lot wider than you would initially think. 

How would you describe the B2B sector in Ireland at the moment?  

It’s big and growing all the time. A lot of our clients are huge globally known brands and many would call Dublin their EMEA base, if not their global base. And the more companies that come to Ireland, the more that will follow — it has a knock-on effect.

What advice would you offer someone who’s considering a switch from B2C to B2B Marketing?

I think there are a lot more opportunities on the B2B side, and plenty of space for growth. Just be open to the process of learning and developing.

The world of the agency marketer is changing, but with that comes plenty of possibilities.

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