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Are Marketing Agencies bad at marketing themselves?

In the last hour of the working day on Friday, I received 43 e-mails from marketing agencies soliciting work and three phone calls. I’m not sure how representative of a typical hour in a typical week this figure is. Nor am I sure how much of this is the tip of the iceberg: I’ve not checked spam filters, or consulted with colleagues receiving contact directed at me. None of these communications was personalised to my business, my role, or the challenges I face.

Marketing and business development are difficult. I get it. I do the job. But there’s no reason to do a difficult job so poorly. Especially if you are offering marketing and business development services.

Let’s deal with the timing first. 4pm on a Friday is a poor time to contact me as I’m usually trying to finish up a task. And I’m not alone. Most studies suggest mid morning or late evening on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday are the best time to get attention whether by email or phone. And unlike the contacts I had, it’s better to combine email and call rather than doing one or the other. This is classic B2B direct marketing but few businesses seem to get it right.

Thinking of the message next. A good message requires some engagement with your target audience. So messages that focus on agency and not on me won’t get very far. And that doesn’t mean simply cutting and pasting my job title into your email. Think carefully about what your audience is looking for and take time to shape the message for each of your targets. What’s in it for me? When sculpting a message, it’s about quality not quantity.

Once this is done, consider the subject title of your message and make sure the personalisation you’ve done for the body copy is reflected here. If you take the time to work on the message, the reader is more likely to take the time to consider what you have to say.

So far so 101. The real question for me is why marketing and business development agencies are so bad at marketing themselves? Maybe the marketing experts at agencies don’t do the marketing of the agency? Perhaps the marketing departments at agencies have the wrong objectives or metrics? Perhaps I’m looking at a narrow band of cold approaches and I should be taking into account the agencies which take the time to build relationships face to face rather than tarring everyone with the same brush? Or maybe my business is just not valued enough?

What do others think?

Categories: b2b marketing KPIs

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Dave is an experienced global B2B Chief Marketing Officer / Marketing Director with an established reputation for delivering commercial results in start-up, mid-tier, and blue-chip businesses across technology, and business services and professional services sectors.

Dave has worked for major brands such as Telefonica O2, EY, and Barclays and held posts from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Online, has run his own business, and managed a P&L for a major corporate. He is chair and co-founder of the Business Marketing Club ( - a network of B2B marketers. In 2019, he was named one of the top 100 B2B European marketing leaders ( He is a graduate of Cambridge University, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chartered Marketer and holds a MBA with Imperial College, London. Dave is a keen cyclist and adventure traveller, is married, and lives in Buckinghamshire. You can read his blogs at

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