ABM vs ABM? Here’s how to win

Written by Jason Talbot

At least 94% of B2B marketers now use Account-Based Marketing (2020 State of ABM). With the promise of higher conversions at a lower cost, it’s no wonder the strategy has taken hold. But if everyone’s doing it, how can you keep your edge?

According to research conducted in 2023 by Insights for Professionals (IFP), most consider their approach to ABM well-established and entering a stage of maturity. Yet a crucial element is being neglected. Over the previous five years, there’s been a race to gain category advantage through weaponising marketing and sales around strategic accounts, with a focus on operational fitness and building the engine. A review of work reveals this has been at the cost of creativity, which appears to fall into the ‘nice to have’ bracket.

Given ABM is regarded as a premium branch of marketing, offering superior focus, insights, attention to detail, and 5-star personalised treatment throughout the buying process, it seems strange to overlook this key pillar of effective comms. Much of the creative doesn’t make it past functional or generic, even when personalised.

What will be the approach for 2024? Expect marketers to blow another 30% of the budget and more time on technology to maintain their advantage. Most will spend more on tech than on media and creative combined. Which seems crazy, especially when you consider 44% of ABM marketers cite a ‘lack of understanding of how technology fits the ABM strategy’ (source: IFP) and under-utilisation of the tech they already have. Let’s face it, we’re an industry of tech junkies.

Vendors continue to fuel the arms race and feed B2B’s addiction to tech, but the next level of maturity demands big ideas and creativity to improve performance and rise above a sea of sameness. This requires time and investment, not two weeks at the end of a three-month process with whatever budget is left.

Fundamentally, we’re in the business of influencing. Everything boils down to leaving a lasting impression on the customer at every touch point. It requires big, beautiful ideas that can stretch across the buying panel and a long buying process. Dressing up versions of ‘better, faster, cheaper’ won’t cut the mustard when all your competitors are applying the same methodology, digging up the same insights and showing up in the same channels.

ABM has matured in B2B marketing. With all things being equal across methodology and technology, creativity is the most important lever you can pull. In 2024, demand better ideas and steal a march on your competitors.



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