By Bev Burgess, ITSMA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rarely have I seen this much hype since the initial days of E-Business around the turn of the millennium. ABM is hot. It’s everywhere. It has ‘crossed the chasm’, so to speak. With the virtuous circle of those companies who try ABM getting great results and wanting more, combining with technology providers making it possible for marketers to target named accounts at scale, it seems that all marketing could become ABM. Or at least ABM inspired.
This is a great thing. Developed over a decade ago as a way of building marketing plans for the most important accounts, ABM helped many technology companies to get over themselves and their offerings and focus instead on their clients. This outside-in approach starts with understanding clients in enough depth that it is then possible to create propositions that help them achieve their specific objectives, and build relationships with them through integrated sales and marketing activities that resonate and are therefore welcome. Done right (using ITSMA’s seven step approach for example), it leads to significantly higher ROI than any other marketing approach. So, its only natural that marketers want to scale these results across every named account their company cares about.
In this quest to scale, three types of ABM have now emerged. The first, described above, is usually reserved for strategic accounts and executed on a one to one basis. This is strategic ABM. The second is ABM Lite. This is a one to few model, often focused on a wider group of strategic accounts or the next tier down of existing or target accounts. It uses the same ABM process, but run for a handful of companies that have similar business issues and initiatives. The advantages of ABM Lite is that it is less resource intensive – both in people and budgets – than strategic ABM. But inevitably, a ‘Liter’ approach leads to ‘Liter’ returns.
The new kid on the block is Programmatic ABM. Enabled by technologies that automate ABM inspired tactics at scale across hundreds or even thousands of identified accounts, this is where most of today’s hype around ABM is coming from. Marketers can automate several of the ABM steps, such as the collection of insight through social listening technologies, or the delivery of targeted advertising through reverse-IP technologies. Per account, programmatic ABM is much less resource intensive, and more applicable for businesses that don’t have the same complex, large, multi-year deals of those who have been using strategic ABM. Today, it is much less likely to drive the same returns as its strategic cousin, having the ‘one to many’ span of more traditional mass marketing campaigns. But who knows what it will look like in three to five years’ time.
Perhaps one day all B2B marketing will be ABM, just as all business has become E-business.
In the meantime, help us to find out where we are on this journey by completing ITSMA’s give to get survey here http://bit.ly/1QJxOs0 Thanks!