Beyond the ABM campaign
With 500 delegates and 22 sessions spread across four content streams, this year’s B2B Marketing ABM Conference offered a banquet of Account Based Marketing insights for attendees.
As sponsors of the two-day event, and as industry-leading ABM specialists, we hosted a couple of sessions ourselves.
David Reid, one of our Client Partners, who has been instrumental in rolling out ABM regional and global programs for Hewlett Packard over the last few years, hosted a session on Wednesday. In keeping with the event theme of ‘Diving Deeper’, his talk ‘Beyond the ABM Campaign’ looked at how integral ABM can be to driving significant change within the marketing department, and the entire business. So…how can it?
The ABM mindset
ABM is often seen as a tactic – a smart way to approach accounts and generate demand. But it’s more than that, it’s a principle.
Before you start talking about a campaign, great ABM starts internally. You want to encourage the whole business to be more effective and efficient with customer communications, and they each need to be bought in. How? By bringing them together.
These internal meetings are essential for an ABM campaign. But breaking down siloes between departments and asking everyone to think about the customer in a joined-up way will drive better business strategy and performance, period. This is an internal cultural shift; a mindset driven by the marketing department to benefit the whole business. From top to bottom, everyone needs to think about the business. And the framework of ABM is a hugely effective way of making that happen.
The customer journey
These meetings, of course, are not just about getting people on the same page; you want to use as much insight as possible from sales, customer service, data analytics, operations, and even R&D, to understand the customer and build out the customer journey in rich detail from start to finish.
Remember, this is B2B, buying cycles are often long and complex with a host of different stakeholders at every stage. The customer journey is complex. But starting an ABM campaign without that insight is bound to fail.
But, again, this isn’t just an approach that benefits ABM. Defining a customer journey over a three, four, or even five-year buying cycle, and segmenting customers in terms of their mindset at each stage, will drive marketing strategy over the long term, and help you understand where to get the most out of your marketing budgets. That moves the conversation on from campaigns to holistic, detailed customer experience – good for every aspect of the business.
The customer insight
As we all know, building personas and journeys using input only from internal sources is inadvisable, if not dangerous. Market research is important, and quant/qual surveys are hugely valuable, but ABM’s data-driven approach to customer insights offers a new layer of intelligence.
By harnessing things like install data and intent insights, connecting MarTech siloes, and using analytics and AI to segment, we not only see where customers are in their journey, but we start to understand the things they need at any given stage of the buying journey. Meanwhile, rich insights can build out a solid picture of the multitude of stakeholders throughout the buying process – who does what, when? And who influences who at what point?
Marketing in the middle
What does all this mean? Well, the marketing function can, and should, be at the center of all customer interaction. Bad marketing has led to the steady ‘communification’ of the discipline, with people heading to the department to get ads made and rustle up some PR and not much else.
The ABM ethos breaks that mold, aiming to change culture, change mindset, get the company aligned and customer orientated, and drive results. Stepping beyond ABM into ABE – Account-Based Everything.
As the legendary business consultant Peter Drucker said: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
ABE can drive that change, and marketing is the natural function to lead it.
In case you missed it, you can catch the on-demand sessions from this year’s ABM Conference here.