Ajit Narayan
Jan 31, 2023

Opinion: Will agencies wake up when B2B goes mainstream in India?

The author explains why it's time to take stock and bring B2B to the mainstream

Opinion: Will agencies wake up when B2B goes mainstream in India?
B2B marketing has often been seen as the poor second cousin far removed in the agency space, especially in India where the budgets and resources are driven by the HQ of the companies. And the local roster focuses on events and local activations for those companies. 
But a sea change is in the making. Typically, the B2B businesses are large, they are more business driven and their budgets in the marketing and advertising space are as much or beyond overall. But, there are key differences in the way the money is spent and calls for a different set of skills and resources. Which so far has not been looked at in either the agency side or even the client side. Given their budgets, content and campaigns have been driven by the respective headquarters of the respective clients. 
The B2B SaaS market in India is a rapidly growing industry, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 20% from 2020 to 2025. This growth is being driven by a number of factors, including increasing digitalisation and automation of businesses, growing adoption of cloud-based solutions, and a large and rapidly expanding base of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in India.
But why this second hand treatment an outsider to the space might wonder. If one were to remove all the digressions and technicalities involved and focus on the big picture, it can be summarised into one big point. 
There are two big points that are the reasons for this:
From a creative standpoint it is too plain and boring. And the agencies in India have been in the run for high points on creative output. But that is not something that is a key draw for B2B where data and end results not only get hauled up but also matter. Local budgets and strategic involvement of B2B companies have been skewed towards tactical interventions.
However, the last few years have been brewing a big change. And that is in India’s emergence as a SaaS destination. And more so, B2B companies have been in the making from India for the global markets. Which means, the second point is very quickly disappearing. And the agency business’ have been caught napping. Yet again. 
Time for a wakeup call. Not that the agency business’ have a lack of brain power, but they need to really think and really acquire new skills. New for the agencies but very old for their clients. In fact, as old as almost marketing itself. In this side of the business there is a focus on digital and data skills that the agency side has yet been exposed to. And there is then there is this shift in perspective from a creative perspective that has to be imposed. As the creative skills required are very different from the B2C side. 
Little wonder that while a lot is being said and abuzz on B2B marketing, the agencies are nowhere to be seen in real thought leadership in this space. This is currently being driven by individuals in their respective tactical skills who are giving a rise to this idea. 
What seems boring and technical for the B2C side is actually the most interesting marketing process for B2B. 
Some examples that come to mind: for one when one thinks B2B, the importance of a focussed and ongoing SEO initiative comes to the fore. And let’s not dismiss this as yet another technical process. This is as much marketing as anything else and very different from B2C SEO where one does not have millions of searches but niche and therefore requires more attention that B2C. And then there is demand generation. Which is a different ball game altogether. Where one has to measure and show results and not some feel good metrics as results.
Also, there is a reliance on data which is completely a new set of skills for the mainstream agencies. 
The B2B marketing agencies is also being driven by the increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the country. With more and more SMEs looking to grow and expand their operations, there is a growing demand for B2B marketing services that can help them reach new audiences and generate new leads.
One can go on and make a big list but, then that’s not the point of this article. The point is while the gig economy and workers are making the noise, will the expertise that exists in terms of thinking make way to the fast-growing market that is India?
Time to take stock and bring B2B to the mainstream and take advantage of this trend and grow the businesses in India.
The author is chief marketing officer, Socxo.


Campaign India

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