The Drum Awards for Marketing - Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Marketing B2B Marketing Business Leadership

‘It’s time for a new model agency’: as B2B expands its horizons, what needs to change?


By Sam Anderson | Network Editor

September 15, 2022 | 9 min read

As competition hots up in B2B, leaders in the space are expecting growth and shifting shape. We sat down with nine bigwigs, including the major independents vying for pole position, to ask what must change as B2B shifts gears.

A model town

Is it time for a new model agency in the B2B space? / Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Changes are afoot in the business-to-business (B2B) landscape – and as we’ve heard recently from leaders in the space, many of them think it’s time for B2B’s golden age as work becomes more creative and seen by more people. But what needs to change for that dream to come to fruition? At a recent roundtable for leaders in the space from The Drum Network, we asked them.

Chris Bagnall, chief executive office and founder, Transmission

From the point of view of attribution, unification between channels and the customer journey, the whole historical view of how agencies have been set up has been wrong. And the whole historical view of how clients have been set up has not been conducive to success. If you’re trying to gather as much data as possible across a long, complex customer journey, across a bunch of different people, across a plethora of channels – that baton passing between departments, between datasets and between agencies, is just not set up for success.

Niche, specialist agencies that are only good at one or two things being part of the equation longer-term: those days are gone. You can’t afford to have 20 agencies doing 50 different things. You need five agencies all connected, all talking together, all connecting the data together.

Fran Gibbs, director, brand strategy, Gravity Global

It’s time for a new model agency. The loop team model isn’t working. We need one P&L, whether you’re in ABM or brand strategy. We have to stop fighting over budgets for above-the-line or below-the-line. We need to work together in one cohesive, coherent group.

And we need to help our clients understand the need for brand fame and admiration in order to drive belief in your ability to deliver. Familiarity drives consideration, and it drives all perceptions that underpin consideration. Familiarity and fame are the lubricant throughout the funnel; they’re not upper-funnel functions. We need to give our clients the confidence, ammunition and data to make the case internally for a rebalance of investment in fame-driving marketing. I’m not saying all the money goes to brand from demand. Absolutely not. But it has been neglected. And yet it’s so powerful at every point throughout the funnel.

Chris Wilson, managing director, Earnest

Agencies can provide the most help by working with our clients on landing the need to do the brand piece, the top-of-funnel piece, effectively. We need to help them find the right metrics that matter to the board and help them build a business case. That’s in our interest, and we’ve got access to a lot of data points for it.

Mirza Fur, executive director, The Marketing Practice

What we need to add focus to is that B2B, more often than not, is run in teams. They are humans, individuals and personalities – but they hunt in packs. We do need data and analysis, but it’s about accounts, not leads.

Know the buyer journey, in terms of individuals, IT teams and locations. Start there. It’s not about a sales journey.

Hannah Thompson, group media director, Tug

In B2B marketing, we’re often targeting chief financial officers and chief executives – or that’s the brief we’re given by our clients. But actually, the people who are doing the research on these products and who prepare the RFPs are assistants and executive assistants, junior managers and IT managers – those whose job titles we often neglect in B2B. Not many chief execs will download a white paper to figure out what a product is going to do.

A lot of brands are starting to interview and survey their customers; asking their sales teams to gather more data. We’re getting more back from our customers, and our advertisers are learning more about their companies and user journeys. We’re getting huge documents from clients at the briefing stage now, instead of just ‘target FDs.’ We’re getting 50-page decks about profiles and customer journeys. If we can have that rapid onset of data collection, then we can get even better at it.

Jennifer Webb, director of strategy and planning, TrunkBBI

It’s time to talk to your customers and focus on the brand experience. That’s where the differentiation lies. Try not to think about brand strategy and brand positioning, but about that experience you’re going to deliver for your customers, and then work your way back.

Barbara Bottini, managing principal, experience consulting, EPAM

We need to think about value exchange: what proposition, apart from messaging, is going to make your client better off? How are you going to make people more intellectually stimulated, more entertained, more educated? Think about value exchange along the lines of experience design and customer journeys.

Modern marketing, whether it’s B2B or B2C, is not only about what we do as an output, but also how we do it. It’s as important to enable our clients to do their marketing better as it is about reimagining their brands, campaigns and content.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.

John Barham, managing director, Roast

Ironically, B2B is set up better for the next two years than B2C; its data maturity is a lot more robust. The panics that we’re getting from some B2C clients aren’t there in B2B because they’ve got the first-party data. It’s a good opportunity for them to be more bold in the market and with their creative. They’ve got the architecture underneath to capture impact in a much better way than some of the bigger B2C advertisers have done historically.

Katie Roberts, head of marketing, Freedman International

We’ve got to remember that markets are humans; individuals. Think about the markets that you want to run your campaigns in, and consider your strategy to make sure that your brand is connecting with people in those markets, and not just in one language to one place. This should feed into the whole experience – it needs to feel applicable and relevant for the different markets and the different people within those markets.

These interviews have been edited for brevity and readability.

Marketing B2B Marketing Business Leadership

Content created with:


Transmission is the world’s largest independent global B2B marketing agency.

Their award-winning full-service offering enables their teams to work seamlessly across the entire sales and marketing function, crafting programs that drive business performance.

By combining agility, data-driven intelligence, innovation, and human creativity, they create powerful, behaviour-changing growth marketing that moves the needle and leaves a lasting impression.

And with 12 offices in 8 countries worldwide, they have the global coverage to help you drive the now and define the next for your B2B marketing anywhere in the world.

Find out more

Gravity Global

We offer full-service marketing communications including marketing and brand strategy, research and insight, and creative and execution. We're a truly integrated, channel neutral, award-winning and proven team delivering marketing campaigns that truly transform.

Find out more


Earnest is the award-winning B2B marketing agency that’s chasing out the humdrum in London and New York.

Why is B2B treated like the poor cousin to B2C? Business people are still people, after all – they just happen to be at work.

Since we opened for business in 2009, we’ve built brands, shaped strategies, produced content programmes, created experiences and developed campaigns that not only deliver results, but engage and delight their audiences too.

Our story

B2B marketing is tough. There are hard-to-reach audiences. Difficult-to-please internal stakeholders. And very often complex, intangible products.

That’s why B2B deserves just as much attention, passion and intellectual energy as B2C. And it’s why Earnest is on a mission to raise standards in B2B, creatively and strategically. Chasing out the humdrum, and ushering in the unexpected.

We positively relish the unique challenges that B2B marketing presents. Since we started the agency in 2009, we’ve earned a reputation for devising solutions that go beyond the obvious, often delivering far more than the client’s original objectives.

The agency offers an unusually broad mix of disciplines – including branding, campaigns, strategic planning, content, and experiential – and we’ve won awards for them all. That’s testament to the fact that we approach every challenge, of every size and every shape, in the same way – with high standards and open minds.

Find out more

The Marketing Practice

Bringing together the best in B2B

The Marketing Practice is a leading, global B2B agency that delivers growth right across the funnel.

These are exciting times for B2B. Investment has soared and so have expectations on marketing departments. To meet these increased demands, marketers need a new kind of agency. And that's where we come in.

We've acquired four leaders across the marketing spectrum, fusing the best in data, technology and creativity. Their skills add to our existing expertise in ABM, demand generation and channel marketing.

The end result is an agency that provides a complete set of integrated skills for the entire customer journey.

Welcome to the new era of B2B.

One team

Your top accounts deserve a top tier experience. We've been working with the sales and marketing teams of tech firms since 2005, growing revenues, consumption and retention rates for strategic accounts.

Creating growth that matters

We've always focused on outcomes over outputs. Partnering with you to move the dial on the measures that matter.

The power of data, tech and ideas

The fusion of data, technology and creativity is a powerful recipe for success. Our experts know how to bring these together for maximum impact.

The B2B growth engine

Our leading specialists, working together across the funnel from brand to demand, data to media, positioning to ABM. A global team, partnering with tech leaders to create more sales today and stronger growth tomorrow.

Our awards

4x BMA awards since 2016

17x B2B Marketing awards in the last four years

Find out more

Tug Agency

Tug is a performance driven, global digital marketing agency, optimised to grow ambitious brands, through the smart combination of data, media, content and technology.

Our offices in London, Berlin, Toronto and Sydney mix local capabilities with international scale to drive real business advantage for our clients, removing barriers to siloed thinking for optimal outcomes.

Tug supports brands - across a wide variety of verticals - looking to capitalise on the growing number of consumers online, with integrated, data-driven digital campaigns.

The team focuses on driving results and holds themselves accountable for each client's performance.

Proudly working with clients such as Muller, WWF, Zipcar, Compare the Market and Norton.

Find out more


TrunkBBI is an award-winning integrated agency made up of 70 specialist thinkers, creators, analysts, influencers and technologists. Inspired by insights, we’re a place that puts creatives and activation specialists together — storytellers and strategists, designers and data scientists. We capture your audience in the perfect moment with perfect content, producing startling results.

With offices across the north and a presence in 47 markets globally, we have a reputation for our distinctive content rich campaigns across paid, owned and earned channels.

We’ve developed our own unique methodology to improve effectiveness across short-term sales activation and long-term brand building, reduce wastage and provide brands with one centralised approach and team.

Find out more

EPAM Continuum

Our diverse, integrated consulting teams apply a Systems Thinking mindset to get to the heart of our clients’ increasingly complex business challenges.

Our business, experience, technology and data consultants work together to create holistic solutions that achieve meaningful, sustained impact for businesses, their employees and customers.

Find out more


We are ROAST.

Our goal is simple, to increase the return on your advertising spend (ROAS).

We do this by simplifying the problem and moving forward with the right performance marketing tactics targeting the correct audience, at the right time.

We extract solutions from data science along with experimentation and apply it where it will be most valuable. By using digital data at scale, combined with the very best industry tools and tech, we can build highly successful Performance Marketing campaigns for you, as well as new ways you can use that data.

How we work with you

Being independent allows us to be flexible with our clients. Digital Marketing moves quickly and we can change our strategy and tactics just as quickly.

We make sure we build you the correct team, formed around your business. This team will be selected as the right team to drive success for YOUR business.

We never build our teams around certain departments, we make them client centric. This way your challenge and goal are always the focus.

Multi Award Winning Digital Performance + Media

We’re proud to have won many prestigious awards over the years - being recognised for the results we have achieved for our clients, our innovative approach, our clever use of data, our culture, as well as named ‘Best Digital Agency’.

We form partnerships built on TRUST.

Word of mouth and strong client relationships have been the driving force of our agency growth from day one. With trust laying heavily at the heart of all of our partnerships, we are fortunate enough to see our clients return to and refer us, time and again.

With decades of industry experience, we know which brands work best with us, if we don’t think we are right for you, we will let you know. We always strive to build meaningful and genuine connections with the clients we do work with, and highly value the importance of reputation and integrity – both of which have allowed us to get to where we are today.

As part of Independent Digital Network, TIPi Group, we use digital data at scale, combined with the very best industry tools and tech to create a comprehensive view of your business and the opportunities we can maximise. We then apply this to our digital strategy to deliver accurately targeted, highly successful award winning campaigns.

Our services include Integrated Search, Customer Experience & CRM, SEO, Content Marketing, PPC, Display & Programmatic, Mobile, Paid Social, Amazon Marketing, Data Science & Analytics and OOH.

For more information visit our website or get in touch at

Find out more

Freedman International

With over 30 years’ experience working with brands to build their presence internationally, we have crafted a best-in-class approach to harnessing cultural insights and utilising them to drive effective campaigns across multiple markets.

We help ensure that what your brand stands for is replicated internationally. Our local teams use cultural insights to make sure your marketing communications really connect with local target audiences, while keeping your brand consistent around the world.

Find out more

More from Marketing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +