Life Lessons on ABM Or: Taking advantage of #ModernABM - by @DoroGosling

Launching an ABM program can be daunting

But never before has the (budding) ABMer had a better set of tools available to add to their arsenal of ABM-specific or -adaptable 'weapons'. Digital disruption has given us means to surround our prospects with very specific marketing messages in ways that weren't even thinkable just a few years ago. At the same time analytics has evolved from pure data crunching for the geeks, to story telling. Well, at least it's getting there; opening up the use of data to many a creative marketer, who may not seek a career path in analytics, but knows about the importance of getting ahead of the curve. Hence the age of #ModernABM is now.

By sharing the CSC story, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own ABM journey, as well as help you avoid some of the pitfalls of setting out in ABM.

CSC's ABM Journey

Let's start with a quick look at CSC

But why is ABM such a compelling strategy?

Traditional ABM

Is very headcount intensive, and therefore doesn't lend itself to being scaled, unless the opportunity that presents itself is considerable and worth the investment. Does that mean you shouldn't consider ABM at all? En contraire! And there are several reasons why you should consider it, not least, because...

Digital disruption has changed the buyers' journey - or better, how your buyers acquire their knowledge on this journey

Much of today's purchasing process happens invisible to the selling B2B organisation. To be considered as part of a possible solution, it's therefore key that your brand and messaging are easily accessible to those buyers and their influencers, while they carry out their online research.

New and emerging digital tools not only help identify where your buyers are looking, they also help you target them, making it possible, for the first time, to consider an ABM-like approach at scale, and at a comparatively (per account) lower cost!

The physical - human-to-human - interactions, are like the tips of the iceberg. Invisible to you, online, additional research and activity takes place. Yet today's ABMer has to identify ways of getting there brand along with the right messages to these individuals. This can seem daunting. Especially, since any ABM program of any kind, isn't just a new tactic, it's a strategy, and as such requires executive buy-in and support across the organisation, but specifically from both, sales and marketing leaders! Think of it as a culture change program atop a marketing program.

Start with the end in mind

So as you are considering ABM, be sure to know what it is you want to achieve with your program, in the context of your business, competitive landscape, and the markets you're operating in.

Our goals are simple, yet ambitious:

B2B2i, or Business-to-Business-to-Individual: With our ABM program we're not targeting just a company or buying center, we're looking to identify the individuals within that buying center.

Having set out the first challenge, we also decided to go to scale quickly, taking a Centre of Excellence Approach, and at the same time transform how our marketing organisation operates. Turning it from a typical (global vs local) siloed organisation into a modern, agile and collaborative marketing org.

This isn't for everyone. In fact, most ABM programs, quite sensibly, start with a small pilot. But we had a vision that was as bold as CSC's own transformation goals at the time.

A multi-pronged approach almost right from the word 'go'!

That's nothing for the faint hearted, but in our case had the advantage of getting our brand on a (relatively) small marketing budget in front of the 242 accounts (don't ask!) we cared for most, while at the same time deploying a high-touch approach to an initial set of 12 accounts.

Today, we maintain a pool of 200 accounts in our "always on" campaign, and at any one point in time have laser sharp focus on 30+ accounts that are most strategic to us.

So where do you start?

Our content audit revealed that we already had a number of tools in our 'tech stack', which, with some tweaking, would lend themselves to ABM. So this is where we initially focused.

After the tools came process

I mentioned it before, we wanted to get to scale quickly. To achieve this, not only do the tools have to be able to support this, but as importantly, you need to ensure consistent processes in order to avoid chaos and create repeatability.

Insight is the key to everything. Without a deep and solid understanding of the account, buying center, market, competitive landscape and the goals you're looking to achieve, almost any activity would be pointless. It certainly wouldn't be ABM.

The rest is pretty self explanatory: Plan > Execute > Measure

... and as the program leader you'll add: Learn > Adjust > Repeat to this list.

Example of working along a deal timeline - conceptually...

And assets we actually deployed:

Did I mention we're obsessed with data?

Or better: with meaningful information gleaned from it!

We measure everything! The following is just one example, taken from our marketing dashboard. It's an important one, as it shows how a specific client company engages with our website. We call it our Client Digital Profile.

This tab has also been integrated into our instance of salesforce, allowing our sales teams to check for themselves, in real time, what their clients or prospects are looking at, and whether this is congruent with the conversations they are having and the opportunities they pursue.

How else do we use company specific data?

Subtle personalisation: A simple, unobtrusive banner lets the visitor see that we know from which company he or she is and that we value their visit.

Content is king...

You see this brandished about everywhere. But is it really this simple? Absolutely not! Content can be anything.

In ABM it counts to serve the right content at the right time to the right people, and then magic happens.

The example below shows the difference between deploying 'vanilla' content and content very relevant to this client at that point in time, through a LinkedIn sponsored update campaign. 'Vanilla' results in below benchmark performance, 'relevant' beat the benchmark! QED!


and finally, for some lessons learned...

Have ideas and suggestions? Get in touch! But most importantly: Enjoy the ride! There's not better time than now to be an ABMer!

Created By
Dorothea Gosling

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