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Account based marketing: an idea whose time has come?

It’s taken an incredible 20 years since it was first codified, but account based marketing (ABM) finally appears to be a red hot topic in B2B marketing. Less compelling ideas would have fallen by the wayside, but ABM has stood the test of time.

Doubtless some marketers will say “you’ve got it all wrong – ABM has ALWAYS been a hot topic.” This may be true for these individuals, but personally ABM was completely unknown until about six months ago – and as someone whose job it is to track B2B marketing trends, this suggests the idea was still largely under the radar.

So what changed? About six months ago, our membership team started getting asked when we were going to cover ABM. I was cynical at first, but they were persistent and I was curious (some key individuals seemed to have bought in) so we scheduled an ABM roundtable for marketing directors. The title gained immediate traction, and the event was extremely successful, with a small number of tech sector experts evangelising to interested parties from across B2B – a split that reflects wider attitudes to ABM.

This sense of an idea whose time has come was reinforced by the ABM session at the B2B Intech conference in March that was both extremely popular and resonant. We’ve now added an ABM category to the B2B Awards 2015, and are running an ABM training workshop the autumn.

So why has it taken two decades to reach this tipping point? This is because ABM is a complex discipline that requires new kinds of sales and marketing alignment that will have been more difficult to deliver in the reactionary post-credit crunch era. Since then, new levels of insight enabled by evolving digital channels has opened up opportunities for new kinds of customer engagement. In other words, the stars have aligned to bring ABM to the forefront.

Without doubt, ABM won’t be right for all organisations, but it is potentially a source of significant competitive advantage where used correctly. The time is right to explore ABM – if you’re not doing it, you can bet that your competitors are.