The World of B2B
ABM – the heretic’s perspective
The appetite for conversations, presentations and white papers on ABM seems insatiable. But this hasn’t yet translated into wholesale adoption. Many are curious about ABM, but not brave enough to jump in. Perhaps it is not that surprising. ABM is time intensive and expensive, certainly if you want the full tech stack driven vision of ABM.
ABM needs certain conditions
But there are perhaps other reasons for lack of wholesale adoption. For ABM to be both valuable and successful, the following conditions need to be in place:
- Existence of identifiable high-value opportunities
- Opportunities are discretely targeted
- Audience needs are sufficiently different to warrant differentiated messaging
- Cost of differentiating marketing is relatively low
- 1,2,3 and 4 satisfy ROI thresholds.
- Organisation offers multiple solutions/products
- Both sales and marketing are on board
The premise of ABM at its simplest is different messages (and different resources) aligned to different high value audiences. But the reality is many organisations struggle to articulate their value proposition. They struggle to explain simply and consistently why clients and prospects should prefer their brand.
“The premise of ABM at its simplest is different messages (and different resources) aligned to different high value audiences. But the reality is many organisations struggle to articulate their value proposition.”
Focusing on ABM can result in taking your eye off the ball
It is not that these organisations are incapable of articulating a value proposition. B2B propositions are inherently complex. So focusing on ABM can lead you to take your eye off the ball, encouraging you to get caught up in segmentation, complex contact strategies, DMUs. Many businesses would do better to simply articulate their story clearly, then develop their direct and inbound strategy.
There’s a fine line between eCRM, ABM and direct marketing
The reality is the lines between eCRM, ABM and direct marketing are pretty blurred. But ABM sounds a bit more of the moment. Sexier. We have all seen the ABM maturity models. One integrated sales and marketing team. Integrated CRM martech stack. A clear attribution model. End to end customer journey. Clearly defined MQL and SQL. Exciting, but also difficult to operationalise. And expensive.
Focusing resources where they will have most impact.
We have 20 or so B2B clients and I would argue this sort of ABM vision would suit the minority not the many. Yes, focus resources where they will have most impact but don’t force ABM on the business if the requirements are simpler. So if you are diving into ABM just ask what version of ABM does the business need and what is the payback?
At this point I suspect disciples of the church of ABM will accuse me of naivety and ludditery, as well as making up a word. But consider this: building a martech from scratch can cost anything up to £2m. And when you consider that most organisations struggle to justify incremental marketing spend, £2m looks like one hell of a break-even number.