Is ABM just Another Bullshit in Marketing* or a path to success? After some exciting years of establishing and experiencing ABM, I think, there is clearly a potential for both: a chance for a significant contribution to success, or just another bullshit.
There are many paths in both directions (succeed or bullshit) - below are some thoughts and personal observations - and I leave the decision with you!
ABM and the Relationship with Sales: There is no chance for ABM if you are not working in lockstep and partnership with sales. Anything else is just bullshit.
The Right Balance to Scale ABM, 1:1 ABM vs. ABM at Scale: Both approaches have their reasons and value. As ABM at scale is often discussed, the key question is: what makes the approach account based? Applying ABM methods in a scaled environment is an enormous chance to put more customers into the center, especially if 1: few is seen as a scaled 1:1 (and not as a small 1: many). Account insights are used for better planning, personalization, messaging, and content development – the right balance is the key. The chance of scaling ABM to death is relatively high - then just don't call it ABM.
From Pipeline Only to Customer Loyalty: What is the expected outcome? This quarter’s pipeline? Or a long-term successful relationship with a loyal customer? How will you measure success in such a customer relationship? There are extensive lists of KPIs for ABM. Leads are normally not part of it - for a reason.
Is Your Approach "Marketing for Accounts" or "Account Based"?
My view is: Finally, ABM has to contribute to the business, especially in the long-term. It is relatively easy to realize short-term success, but will your accounts be loyal customers over the years? Will they grow over time or only for a quarter? Defining joint goals for sales and ABM and committing as peers to customer lifecycle-related goals, not just single deals, reduces the risk of delivering bullshit.
There is value in both in marketing for accounts and in account-based marketing. If you label it “ABM,” make it account-based. Ideally, you look at your data and insights and decide: is that enough to make it an ABM approach? If so, great! If not, fix your data. My company invested an enormous effort in fixing the data and developing an innovative view of our accounts.
Listen to Your Customers! That's something I do by myself, and I ask my team to do so, too.
Have you ever asked your customer (humans, people, executives - not data) how your ABM was received? Do they value what you do for them, and what exactly makes the difference between all the many newsletters and emails they receive? We measure everything we do, but we do not really measure what we don't do. What do you think about it?
*By the way, the "bullshit statement" was made by a sales leader in one of my first ABM presentations in front of his team. We have proven multiple times the opposite, but to be constantly successful, we have to challenge ourselves daily: Is that really ABM what I do? Can I prove it? What is the expected short-term and long-term outcome? What will my customer think about it? One has to reflect on these questions.