Frontpage  About
Paper info: Using a third party in business-to-business (B2B) communication: towards a terminology framework


Using a third party in business-to-business (B2B) communication: towards a terminology framework


Jan Lagast and
Louise Canning
University of Birmingham
United Kingdom
Louise Canning

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.


Download paper
(205.8 kb)


The emphasis of this paper lies in the discussion of communications messages in which a third party is used to enhance the effect of messages transmitted by the business marketer to their target audience - this might be via direct exchanges between a salesperson and customer representative or involve more indirect and impersonal communications. In many cases the third party might be an existing customer, but it could also include experts, suppliers, previous employers, shareholders, board members, etc.Terms associated with customer-related messages include referral, reference, customer reference, endorsement, third party (customer) endorsement, testimonial and recommendation. One might expect such terms to be clearly distinguishable from each other, yet this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, definitions provided by the academic community are sometimes vague, inconsistent or contradictory and explanations of these, as used by the marketing practitioner, ambiguous. This seeming lack of clarity would suggest that further conceptual and empirical work is needed to present more precise explanations of
  • the meanings attributed to the various terms,
  • their usage by the marketing practitioner,
  • their contribution to the business marketer's communications activities and
  • their effect on customer behaviour.We present a review of existing work, propose a terminology framework and suggest initial research to refine the framework and improve understanding of the use of customers as a third party in business-to-business (B2B) communications.