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Paper info: Buying marketing services: illustrative cases


Buying marketing services: illustrative cases


Joao Proenca
University of Porto
Joao Proenca and
Maria Antónia Rodrigues
Polytechnic Institute of Porto
Maria Antónia Rodrigues

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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This paper analyzes the marketing service business and the interactions involved in some
marketing services that firms are buying. First we review the literature on the purchase of
services and various types of marketing services: advertising, direct marketing, market
research, public relations, web marketing, print and others. Then, we present and analyze an
exploratory select group of cases to discuss how and why firms are buying marketing
services. The selected cases correspond to the purchasing of marketing services for the three
biggest Portuguese firms. Top marketing managers of the buying firms were interviewed indepth
in November 2010. The results from these cases show that the marketing services
bought are increasing in number, diversity and size, are simple or complex, standardized or
non-standardized. Most business firms studied buy and contract marketing services on annual
terms. The marketing services were bought from a diversified group of suppliers with whom
they had dealt with for two or more years. Buyers and sellers share vast and important
information, and most of them are aware of specific knowledge. This study helps to
understand the dynamics of the business services market and how buying a marketing service
is handled. The study highlights the growth of marketing services and the opportunity to
adapt and explore better ways of interaction from both parties. The results ask for further
research about doing deals in service markets and about the interaction between the sellers
and buyers in the marketing service business.
Keywords: marketing services, business services, buying, Portugal