The Marketing Strategist:

I’m an ABM-er! KPMG’s Julie Johnson

June 8, 2017

  • Account-based marketing

The rise of account-based marketing in recent years has created a vital new career path for B2B marketers: becoming an ABM-er and driving growth with key accounts.

As young marketers charge into the ABM future, we’re celebrating the stories and advice of the “magnificent seven” leaders featured in A Practitioner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing.

In this excerpt from the book, learn from Julie Johnson, Executive Director of Markets and Accounts at KPMG LLP.

Julie Johnson, KPMG

My route into ABM

I’ve been with KPMG for almost nine years and have been involved in our evolution into account-based marketing from the start, since it began just about the time I joined. Before that, I was vice president of marketing for a professional services firm focused on the healthcare industry. I started at KPMG by managing our North American western region in the field marketing team, which is now about 140 people.

At the time, the partner who was leading marketing came to all of us marketing leaders and said we should be moving towards more of an account-based approach, instead of just doing things like random events. So, we went through a pretty exhaustive change management exercise with an outside consulting firm to refocus all of our energies around account-based marketing and account management. I was very much a part of that because I had a change management background.

It led to a redefinition of roles and responsibilities, including writing new job descriptions and interviewing people for account-based marketing positions. Did they have the skill sets to make the transition from being a broad marketer to being able to focus at the account level? We divided our organization up into people who could make that transition, and moved others to do more shared-service kinds of responsibilities.

Over the last four or five years, we have evolved to a strong focus on individual accounts. For many of those years, I too was assigned to accounts, as I had taken over field marketing responsibility for everybody. This proved too much: I just didn’t have the bandwidth to support accounts because of the responsibility of managing the whole team, so now I am very much involved in driving what the organization does and overseeing our methodology.

Can I say I set out to be an account-based marketer? Not really. I’ve just been involved in the evolution of where we’ve gone as a firm, helping to get us where we are today, which is very much account-based.

Advice for new ABM-ers

I stress this all the time: it is a relentless focus on understanding client issues, as well as having a relentless focus on being a student of what we do as a business, and really bringing that idea to the account. I think that’s critical, and whether you’re doing it for the first time, or you’ve been doing it for 10 years, having that relentless focus is key.

That’s where I think our people can really differentiate themselves as they sit down with their engagement teams. Their account teams are so busy, so heads down delivering work day in and day out, that they often don’t have the broader view of everything going on at the account, or everything that’s going on within the firm that can be brought to the account.

That’s what I coach people to do right off the bat. If you bring that to the account, regardless of your level or title, you are going to be seen to be contributing real value.

*This excerpt from A Practitioner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing is reproduced by permission of Kogan Page Ltd. Copyright Bev Burgess and Dave Munn, 2017.


Inspired by this ABM-er? Become one yourself by enrolling in our ABM Certification Program. The next program begins with a two-day Kickoff Workshop in Boston on July 12-13, followed by three months of mentoring and deep learning.


Read more ABM-er stories:

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