You know you should be doing ABM, right?
ABM is well past the buzzword stage now. Everyone knows it means Account Based Marketing. Adoption is underway and growing fast. TOPO (2019) says companies expect to spend over 40% more on ABM in 2020. But are you starting to feel a bit uneasy that despite all the hype you still don’t have a solid ABM plan? Or you have one, but you’re not sure you’ve got everything covered? Or even what ‘everything’ covers? It’s ok to be squirming in your seat a little bit. Because honestly, so are a lot of other people.
B2B Marketing have been running a dedicated ABM event for the last 3 years now, and it’s high on the agenda of all their other events, too. Yet, the swelling numbers and increasing interest at these events just goes to demonstrate that there’s a huge number of people out there who still want to know more; or want proof it actually does what it says on the tin.
So, as my good friend Richard Tubb actually asked me recently ‘What actually IS ABM?’ If you’re really old (like him) you might remember something from waaaay back called Key Account Marketing. It was really the first time that salespeople started to realise that when selling at enterprise level into complex accounts with many people making up the buying decision making unit, or influencing it, that a ‘one size fits all’ approach didn’t really cut it.
The most often quoted definition of ABM now is probably from ITSMA (IT Service Marketing Association) and defines ABM as ‘treating individual accounts as markets in their own right’. That means literally developing a plan, collateral, and an approach to marketing and sales that’s bespoke for every single account. Now, sometimes when you have an absolutely massive global account and you want to get into it as much as possible, that’s a good approach. It’s also highly time consuming, and expensive, as you might expect. And that’s why many people can be put off ABM.
But ABM principles can also be applied to accounts that are valuable but not quite so monolithic. Also, if you have several accounts in a similar space – a vertical like, say banking, or energy, then some of the same research, influencers and messaging will apply across these accounts. That’s when you can maximise your investment by leveraging it across a number of customers. Some people call this clustering, or one to few ABM. What I think that can miss though, is that your marketing should be tailored still for each account, just that some of the heavy lifting can have multiple applications.
I’ve been working with a focus on ABM for over 3 years now – for a global software vendor, running the first channel ABM program, and agency side working with some huge global brands. What excites me the most is the opportunity to do two things:
1. Get sales and marketing teams working together and realising the power they can unleash when they do that really well – and the step change in the results they can achieve!
2. Making sure that whether you’re doing 1:1 or 1:few ABM, the most important aspect is blending the customers’ needs, concerns and areas of focus with what you can deliver. By showing the customer that you really understand what they are trying to do, and how you can support them to do it better, you’re changing the way you do marketing and truly being customer-centric in a way that many people just give lip service to.
That makes it sound easy, and at a strategy level, the concept is straightforward. However, having worked at the sharp end of ABM projects I also know that the execution of the strategy can be anything but! And it can be bewildering as there are so many aspects to consider when setting up an ABM program. So, I’ve put my time and experience to good use, and built a program with my good friend Sandrijn Stead at C View Technologies to build a super simple to use, but powerful, AI tool which will help you see at a glance, how you are doing on ABM, or if you’re about to set up, where your gaps might be. The assessment is built on the C View platform which has been developed over the last 8 years and been used throughout the channel by some of the best technology brands in the business. And now you get to try it for free! No sales pitch, no comeback, I’m not going to ring you up and try to book an appointment with you. Genuinely, I’m putting this out there so that it helps people understand the benefits for their business of ABM, and where they can focus if they want to build a successful strategy. So, give it a go on this link, and drop me a comment in the feed about how you get on!