B2B companies are demonstrating more sophisticated and inventive ways to get even better returns as account-based marketing (ABM) continues to mature as a discipline.
The ABM program at the digital workflows enterprise, ServiceNow, is a good example of how this can work in practice. ServiceNow, recently ranked first in the 2018 Forbes Most Innovative Companies list, is integrating a multi-layered ABM approach into the very heart of their customer success-led corporate strategy.
According to Gemma Davies, Director of Global ABM Strategy, ABM has become a key driver of success in pursuit of the company’s vision for 2020.
Davies explains, “Account-based marketing is sometimes confused with tactical, or targeted marketing, but really it’s much more sophisticated. It requires a lot more upfront research and understanding of each individual account. Every ABM activity is derived from the long-term business strategies of our customers and prospects.”
Audiences of one and audiences of “a few”
The ServiceNow ABM program consists of two main components:
- A one-to-one, “go deep” program focused on deepening and widening relationships with a small number of strategic accounts. This component treats strategic accounts as “markets in their own right” and includes dedicated resources and a customized ABM plan for each of the targeted accounts.
- A one-to-few, “growth” program focused on driving value with prioritized, segmented groups of accounts. This component is designed for greater scalability, while still being focused on addressing the business imperatives of the target account. This provides coverage to a broader range of accounts with ABM principles and support.
The two levels of ABM ensure the right balance of investment and resources. According to Davies, “A blended approach means we can look at how we prioritize and deliver value to our target accounts more effectively and in a much more informed way. This ultimately has led to higher returns.”
ABM as a service
What’s notable at ServiceNow is the emphasis on ABM as an organization-wide integrated service. As Davies explains, “Essentially, the ABM program is about identifying and understanding the key business issues facing our target accounts and building custom value propositions that are delivered through a series of ABM services. To help embed the program internally and strengthen marketing’s partnership with the account teams, we articulate a clear promise and purpose to the business. We talk about ABM as a service to the organization and the teams within it.”
The ABM team has categorized the services it provides into six areas:
- Alignment with industry and account planning: This includes providing strategic industry intelligence, working with sales on go-to-market plans, and aligning those plans to support new business plays.
- Decision-maker relationship development: Working with sales to help prioritize and identify buyer intent, strengthen value positioning, and extend networking through flagship executive events and engagement programs across targeted accounts.
- Custom content: Developing and providing relevant, outcome-focused content that is delivered to the right person at the right time and then carefully followed up.
- Key stakeholder awareness: Support the deepening of decision-maker relationships by encouraging more extensive engagement with senior executives and coordinating with other marketing and sales activities.
- Pipeline acceleration: Working with sales to help secure critical meetings and accelerate business pipeline opportunities.
- Advocacy and adoption: Supporting customers in realizing value from the ServiceNow platform and creating great experiences throughout the customer lifecycle.
Although it is too early to share commercial results, ServiceNow is seeing noteworthy success since launching the ABM program last year. Davies attributes ServiceNow ABM success to:
- Close alignment with the business outcomes its customers care most about
- A “one team” approach uniting sales, marketing, delivery, and customer success
“ABM is a real team sport, something I’m so proud and humbled to be a part of,” says Davies. “The teams have developed their ABM skills amazingly in the short time that the program has been running. Our prospects and customers have responded really well, and we’re already planning new waves of outreach that promise to be even more relevant and customer centric. Now that we’ve done a few laps around the track, we’re ready to put the pedal to the metal.”
The ABM as a service approach is working.
Learn how marketing leaders like Gemma Davies continue to invest in ABM through ITSMA’s Raising the Game with ABM: 2018 ABM Benchmark Study.