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Rimantas Stanevicius: What Can B2B Agencies Do That I Can’t?

Rimantas Stanevicius has been shaping the Lithuanian advertising market for nearly 20 years. “A cocktail of everything” he says, Rimantas went from copywriting at Leo Burnett to becoming the creative director for one of the most awarded agencies in the Baltics (Milk). Today, he stands as the board member of both the Lithuanian Design Association and prestigious ADCE (Art Directors Club of Europe). In this snippet, we continue our little series on the battle of traditional agencies VS B2B.

Traditional agencies do not understand B2B marketing. Would you agree?

What the Volvo ad “Epic Split” with Jean Claude van Damme proved is that business people are also people and maybe they are people first and then business people.

I agree on the strategy, but not the tactics. The idea of account-based marketing is to sell a one million euro software to a company with a sale cycle of three years. They need to influence seven people with their marketing. It's a completely different approach compared to selling Pergale candies to three million people who can buy it on impulse.

It's a double-sided sword. It really helps to have a brand that is famous and you have the inside personnel, the sales people, who build relationships with clients and then use the power of the brand to sell whatever business-to-business product they have. The channels they use - it's nothing unique - it's just the stuff that we used to do 20 years ago without thinking twice. Of course, you can specialise in doing only B2B and maybe be the best at that, but it doesn't mean that you can rely on a single specific channel.

So you are saying that there's no need for specialised B2B marketing because creativity is universal and people are people.

That's overstretching it a little bit! Maybe I sound arrogant, but unless those B2B agencies do the lobbying and help you build (business) people to (business) people relationships, there's nothing they can do that I can't. I don't know the CEO-s and I cannot pick up the phone and call them - so if they can, that's how they can help and that's fine.

There's another trend that needs to be discussed - reputation management by PR-agencies. It seems to be a bit of a different bubble. It doesn't always harmonise with the advertising or creative marketing part.

This is one of the reasons we started a PR department in our agency last year. Now we have four in total: creative, digital, branding and PR. It's to take back our business from PR agencies who somehow claimed the whole world of communication to themselves. I have always thought that advertising is communication.

The same goes with employer branding. We, as an agency, also have to do employer branding. We participate in pitches, win them and do campaigns, say for Rimi in the Baltics. This is not exclusively a PR-company thing. You can manage that with reputation, but I think you have a much more direct contact with employer branding if you talk about design, even the uniform that you wear, the logo that you put on yourself - that's not PR, that's design, branding or advertising. Most of the things PR does are indirect, it's fundamental to the PR industry to stay in the shadows. I don't think they can claim employer branding to themselves, at least not entirely.

One Estonian PR guru has said that advertising agencies always talk to marketing directors and PR agencies talk to presidents of the company.

That bugs me the most. My personal response to this: we tend to think of ourselves as professionals and we think our work speaks for itself. So if I give a professional solution, you as a professional in the marketing department are expected to be given freedom of choice and decision making in your own department and that's what we expect - professionalism and being able to make those decisions. What we see is that PR agencies are using their personal relationships with the CEO-s, so that they can apply pressure on the marcom decisions.

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