Introducing... account-based everything
Account-based marketing is the new norm for those working in B2B, says ABE speaker Robert Norum
First off, as many industry pundits frequently comment, ABM isn’t new.
Depending on how you define ABM, its genesis goes back to Peppers and Rodgers’ The one to one future in 1993, and it certainly dates back to 2003, when ITSMA formally named the concept of account-based marketing. But I’d go further: I’d say that in 2017 ABM is, in fact, the new normal for B2B marketers.
ABM thinking has been informing so many different aspects of marketing for so long now, that the tipping point it recently reached underlines the fact that it has now infiltrated all aspects the B2B marketer’s playbook.
ABM should be a company-wide approach
So I was delighted to learn the title of B2B Marketing’s upcoming one day conference: Account-Based Everything. For me, this hits the nail right on the head - the ABM ‘filter’ is now influencing not just the wider sales and marketing teams, but all other disciplines as well.
Everything should now be under an ABM umbrella – it can, for example, make your partner and channel relationships much more valuable; it can also make your industry marketing more valuable and your demand generation more effective. ABM shouldn’t be a ‘line-item’ in your budget, it should be central to your overarching marketing strategy.
The figures can’t be ignored: 97% of marketers doing ABM identify it as the highest ROI driver in their marketing portfolio. And the benefits and results are being seen by marketing departments across the board – better alignment between sales and marketing, making organisations insight-centric, deeper account penetration, better visibility on spend. In fact, I’m not even going to make that case for ABM. I’m here to say that ABM has permanently moved from the periphery to centre stage. As I heard a CMO say recently: “If it isn’t ABM it probably shouldn’t be happening.”
By no means a mere gimmick
The closer relationship between sales and marketing is probably the important outcome from ABM. I ran a half-day planning workshop recently for two major technology brands embarking on a joint ABM programme and one the sales leaders admitted to me afterwards that she had been concerned when she saw four hours coming out of her diary at the tail end of a quarter. But she also conceded it had been a really valuable use of four hours, and we're now setting up an ABM programme across multiple accounts over several months.
Account-based everything isn’t a gimmick, it’s nothing less than a new way of thinking. What does this new normal look like, in practice? It’s about using an account-based filter to drive all your sales and marketing activities and linking KPI’s directly back to traction and sales performance by account. And yes, it’s about putting data and insight centre stage, aligning teams behind an agreed and understood strategy, and galvanising more relevant, timely and personalised marketing.
The future, accelerated
Maybe the best way of thinking about it is to consider that we’re currently in a period of transition, as everything strategic inevitably moves towards an account-based mentality. I share the sentiment of digital marketing commentator Andrew Gaffney:
“Marketing teams should make the case that more tailored messaging for key accounts is now the cost of doing business in this climate where relevancy trumps frequency”
Here’s to account-based everything quickly becoming its own three-letter acronym: ABE.
Should you be doing it? Definitively, yes.
And if you want to find out why, you can come hear me and other speakers at B2B Marketing’s Account-Based Everything event at County Hall in London on Thursday November 9.
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