A decade of driving the now and defining the next in B2B marketing

By Chris Bagnall |
6 minute read

A decade of driving the now and defining the next in B2B marketing

As 2024 starts to kick into gear in the business world I wanted to just pause for a moment to take stock of our journey to becoming a decade old.

At the back end of 2013 I decided to take the plunge and start a B2B marketing agency. I called it “Pulse” to begin with, but a few years later and after a few legal proceedings around the usage of the name (which I hadn’t trademarked), we became “Transmission”.

At the end of 2023 we celebrated hitting our ten years milestone. For me personally the moment was as unbelievable as it was “unexpected”, the latter of which I wrote about in a previous blog back in 2017 titled “An unexpected journey”. We marked the occasion with celebrations involving all our people in all our offices around the world, which I had the enormous pleasure of attending over a whirlwind two-week trip from country to country circumnavigating the globe!

I’d virtually met most of the people in our business but not had the fortune to physically meet everyone within Transmission, so I relished the chance to remedy that. What I encountered was a wonderful mix of personalities, cultures, passions, and a huge amount of pleasure from seeing so many of us celebrate our landmark together.

During each country event I took the opportunity to take everyone through our journey to date. We applauded dozens of our long standing Transmissioners (many with AI avatar content that I created!). I organised for many people who had supported us along the way to record a personal video message of thanks that I played to all. Some past and some present, and including many clients, suppliers, partners, supporters, and staff. We reminded ourselves of how far we’d come and those people who had helped us get there.

From simple beginnings with me, three grads and one tiny office in 2013, to hundreds of people right across the world and being the largest global independent B2B agency in 2024. Beyond anything I could have ever imagined all those years ago.

Oh, how things have changed, but then also strangely not...

There are so many things that have evolved over the past decade around our business and our industry. Back ten years ago the big trends that were either just here or starting to emerge included the likes of inbound marketing, content marketing, ABM and mobile. Today, these are a part of our normal day to day B2B marketing language as they have become just things you need to address as a component of most marketing strategies in business to business.

In our industry we’ve seen the gradual demise of the specialist B2B agency that does one or two things really well, to be replaced by B2B agencies who have dozens of different and complimentary services designed to integrate more parts of the puzzle together. Whether some of these agencies have done this organically like us as a part of our growth and development strategy, or they have bolted on acquisitions to tackle areas they had little capability in doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the agency landscape has evolved to cater to the needs of the client market. Marketing departments and CMO’s cannot deal with dozens of different specialist agencies, procurement teams want to drive value and economies through less suppliers, analytics needs connected customer journey systems, and to drive success nowadays, to my earlier point, we must apply connected omnichannel experiences that learn from what’s happened before.

We’ve built this full service offering from the ground up, within one agency so I’ve seen firsthand the challenges of doing so from within. Keeping up to date with hundreds of different specialist areas and making sure they work together. Those that have tried to do this with bolt on acquisitions have a whole set of other challenges on their hands.

One other area I’m proud has progressed over the past decade is around the professionalism of our B2B marketing industry. Being a B2B guy pretty much my whole career, I’ve been banging the drum longer than most, extolling the virtues of B2B and fighting against the stigma of its supposed inferiority against business to consumer marketing. Today, the realisation by many that B2B can be, and is a part of our industry that not only deserves recognition but in so many ways is ever more complex than B2C. To understand it and be good at it, you need a heightened level of experience, acumen, knowledge, and continuous learning. On top of that, the stigma is disappearing as many a prominent client, brand and agency has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible to deliver pure excellence.

And to this last point...

What has not changed?

We are still striving to deliver an ever-growing volume of evidence to connect the value of brand and creativity for B2B businesses and align that with overall company success. But, with limited success. I’m not saying it’s still what it was, and we’ve definitely made great strides, but on the whole, the connection is weak, most businesses still have short termism as priority, they like to be safe creatively and the challenge to change the majority of mindsets, especially at board level continues.

Another thing that’s not changed is that we are still having the same old conversations about sales and marketing alignment. There’s lots of evidence to show that this has gotten better over time but until businesses stop seeing sales as a revenue centre and marketing as a cost centre, I’m afraid this debate will rumble on.

Strides have been made in many businesses, aligning both under the “growth” banner. Methodologies such as ABM have bought teams closer to working together in major areas. Analytics have given sales teams much more evidence of the value marketing is delivering. But despite all this, in many organisations world-wide, the two teams operate in a very unconnected manner. We must do better at making sure marketing is given a more expansive remit in businesses. Most of us in marketing grew up learning the 4 P’s of product, place, price, and promotion. Today, B2B marketing has been marginalised to focus almost exclusively on the last P (promotion). Different teams in most businesses are involved in the other three. And until we tackle this, marketing will continue to struggle to prove more of its value to boards.

This last point is something we take very seriously at Transmission. We’ve built the agency to enable us to do our best work when we have bigger picture visibility into our clients’ complete operations. We’ve even built a service we call “Growth Intelligence” that’s designed to consult and benchmark our clients on every aspect of their go to market strategies, to understand more around how everything works and fits together (or doesn’t), so we can advise on the best course of action over time with staged priorities. This used to be an area reserved for the big consultancies, but over time smart agencies with broader capability and the smart people with know-how have been moving more into that consultancy space, probably equally as much as the consultancies have been moving into our agency space!


Looking to the future

As we start 2024, both with an air of optimism but also probably an equal measure of caution due mainly to the macroeconomic and political landscape right now, I find myself at a crossroads about our agencies future and the future of our industry. One can’t help to have part of their mind taken up with thoughts about how the likes of AI are going to change historical working ways medium to longer term. The world over is as unstable as I can remember it, and every time you dare think we’ve gotten past one crisis to move back to normality, another hits you over the head to bring you back to reality.

The way we ourselves operate in business during these times, I find is probably the most imperatively important I’ve felt since that first year of operation for us. I’ve seen many agencies in our industry fail to evolve and become a little irrelevant today. I believe you simply cannot afford to do this and it’s now even more important to continue to push boundaries, evolve the offering, update the thinking, and find new ways to drive growth and strategic services for clients. Services that they can’t replicate themselves and need a partner to supply and drive success together.

We’ve always evolved our agency. It’s become the strap line of our business. “Driving the Now. Defining the Next.” Our clients want results now, but they also want an agency who cares about how they keep delivering for them over time.

I’m extremely proud of the many clients we help day to day, year after year, and the work we do for them. The feeling we get when we do a good job, when a client is happy, when we win a pitch, or when a client tells us our work has delivered such success. It’s what keeps us pushing on as a business.

As we enter our second decade, I look at what we have built, the companies we’ve worked for, and the people past and present within the business, and I’m filled with pride. If we keep doing what we’ve done to date, with the same attitude to push our industry forward with innovative thinking and delivery excellence, then I’ve no doubt that we can achieve even greater things.

I’ll finish with the same paragraph from my blog in 2017:

If in the search for trying to be the best, you need to scale and find that “relevance” in more places and spaces, then this is what we will do. With the support of our amazing team who dedicate their passion and energy to make us who we are. And with the support of our clients, who continue to back us and trust us to deliver. We continue our unexpected journey.


(Our first birthday party, ten years ago)