The trouble with the marketing industry is that we’re a sucker for a trend. Or even just a buzzword. It’s as if there’s a bunch of marketers out there without any form of specialism, just waiting for something to come along that they can hang their hat on and then claim ownership of the associated intellectual property. Dare I say it, are we an industry that is constantly trying to justify our existence, but possibly in the wrong way?
We’ve seen it before: content marketing (you mean building credibility with insight…how unique!); social selling (which has little to do with social, and virtually nothing to do with selling); and now Account Based Marketing. Or rather ABM, because we love an acronym even more (WOM strategy anyone?!).
ABM is most definitely the latest trend that everyone is talking about. However, the talk seems to be from a bunch of so-called experts, who’ve been doing it for years, and who most definitely know what ABM is. Yet still, few people are actually doing it, or doing it properly.
Well, let me tell you, I’m definitely an expert at ABM, have been doing it for years, and I most definitely know what it is! Ahem. Actually, I would prefer to tell you what it isn’t.
There’s a definition offered by ITSMA (see here) that specifies three types of ABM:
- ABM: creating and executing highly customised programs for individual accounts
- ABM lite: creating and executing lightly customised programs for clusters of accounts with similar issues and needs
- Programmatic ABM: leveraging technology to tailor marketing campaigns for specific named accounts at scale
The first is ABM. The second I can just about get on board with (although I would remove the word ‘lightly’ if I’m splitting hairs). The third is most definitely not ABM. It’s marketing. It might be targeted; and it might be based on a business to business proposition; it might even involve sending content to brands you already trade with…it’s still just marketing. Just because you may use fancy tactics like IP targeting doesn’t mean it’s ABM.
The key thing that ABM isn’t: rocket science. Like many of the trends and buzzwords, it is rooted in logic and the application of good old fashioned sales and marketing skill sets.
Funnily enough, given that we’re a bunch of experts, we’ve also jumped on the ABM bandwagon and developed a handy little ABM guide: http://www.gilroy.co.uk/abm-guide/
We have, however, been doing it for 40 years…