Account-based marketing – another buzzword or something real?

Account-based marketing – another buzzword or something real?

My new column is live in The Drum:

One way to sell a new type of marketing software is to proclaim that marketing has completely changed, popularise a different model, and show how – conveniently – your platform is a way to be successful in the new paradigm. Is account-based marketing any different?

For B2C marketers who might be unfamiliar with the modern B2B tech software world, there is one important thing to understand before I answer that question.

First, the traditional marketing department has been destroyed more than Duffy’s music career after that Diet Coke commercial in 2009. In classic theory, here is a simplified breakdown that I created.

Of course, there are the 4 Ps with the tactical mix under promotion. Marketing and communications were under one strategic roof. Everything that was responsible for the company making money – from product-market fit to customer service – was together in a single business unit. Everything else was pretty much overhead or administration.

However, here is where things stand in many tech companies today.

Pricing has gone to finance. Product has moved to a separate product team. Sales has become a separate team. So has customer support. Marketing has been reduced to only a small set of communications functions. And each of these teams has its own director or vice president that reports to the CEO.

The reasons for the fall of marketing in the tech world could be discussed for hours, but here are two major reasons. First, technology has led to vast increases in efficiency that have eliminated the need to hire masses of people, and tech companies are under extreme pressure from investors and competitors.

And where does that lead? To the flattening of organisations and the cutting of middle management. Having five small teams reporting directly to the CEO is cheaper than having them all report to an expensive CMO who reports to the CEO.

Second, the tech world values product and sales much more than communications. VCs do not want to spend money on it. Programmers do not understand it. (Ask how many times techies at various companies have said “marketing is bullshit,” not knowing I was within earshot.) Too many CEOs think that any good tech product should be able to sell itself.

Marketing failed to market itself.

As a result, tech companies sit with entirely separate marketing, sales, and customer support teams at the top, middle, and bottom of sales pipelines. In this context, marketing solely delivers leads to sales. Sales closes. Customer support answers questions. Customer success convinces users to pay more money over time.

And you wonder why the entire operation is inefficient and teams do not talk to each other.

Enter account-based marketing. According to Google Trends, ABM has been growing in popularity since 2016. Every day on LinkedIn, I see more and more advocates of the practice and sellers of ABM software publicising e-books, webinars, tutorials, and blog posts.

But what is ABM, exactly?

Read the rest in The Drum.

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