Individual accounts as markets in their own right: A peep into the ITSMA definition of ABM
Arun Pillai, February 21, 2019
ITSMA is a community of thought leaders in the area of marketing. They provide a platform where the latest trends and strategies of marketing are discussed and dissected by all concerned stakeholders. ITSMA is an established and widely followed leader for B2B IT Services Marketing for more than two decades.
One of the most well-known initiatives of ITSMA is the concept of Account Based Marketing (ABM) which they introduced. After so many years now, ABM is a concept that is widely embraced by all marketers around the world, and there has been a lot of thinking and literature around the concept of ABM already.
But the way ABM was defined and explained by ITSMA all those years ago still holds relevance after all these years.
In a line, the ITSMA definition explained that marketers following ABM need to treat individual accounts as markets in their own right.
When a marketer is promoting a particular product or service to a particular person, that person needs to get interested in that product or service. But in the case of B2B, the corporate decision-making process is a multilayered and nuanced one. It is not simply a matter of one person getting convinced.
There are multiple stakeholders and decision makers. Each of them might have their own reservations, queries and bias. The marketing campaign for that account must therefore take all of these into consideration.
When an Account Based Marketing campaign is initiated and carried out, every account is seen as a market, as per the ITSMA definition. Let us look at a few aspects of ABM in this context.
Just like a marketer handling a particular market knows all about that market, similarly a marketer handling ABM for a particular client or account is expected to know every small and big thing about that client. This means that the marketer would focus less on what products and services he or she has to offer, but more on what is the issue or the need of the client that requires resolution.
When a marketing team or a marketer is working on a particular market, the goals are not achieved immediately. This is especially true for revenue goals. Similarly, for ABM, the activities begin from the relationship with the account, and try to work on making that relationship richer and deeper, instead of targeting only immediate sales.
For a team that is covering a particular market, the campaigns and programs would be tailor-made for best results, instead of using something that has been used in other markets. That is because every market has its own unique flavor. What works there might not work for another market. In ABM too, each account needs specific tailor-made programs.
The last point to be noted is that when a team targets a particular market, there would be some long-term marketing initiatives, and also some short-term sales objectives. Since ABM does not aim to cover all accounts and clients, therefore the sales and marketing objectives are quite well aligned.