ABM and the paradox of numbers

ABM and the paradox of numbers

Feel the anxiety of being in this position.

You lead the marketing function in a business to business organisation. You’re staring down the barrel of an overly ambitious annual target. You missed Q1 and the sole emphasis across the whole business is to smash it in Q2 to make up the shortfall.

You’ve been asked to produce a report on current marketing effectiveness and present campaign ideas to help make up the shortfall.
One the one hand, you can rerun the campaign from this time last year that had great reach and generated a decent number of leads – but you’re fully cognizant of the fact that very little business was written off the back of it.

Alternatively, you can spend the same amount of money and run an ABM campaign. Only problem is, it’ll reach scores of organisations instead of thousands and generate a dozen or so leads rather than hundreds. However, you passionately believe it will bring in a few new marquee accounts with a massive customer lifetime value.

So you’re faced with greasing the wheels with something that gets you off the hook and gives everyone a false sense of comfort that the business is doing everything it can to get itself out of the hole it’s in. Or you can be the one person who makes a stand against nonsense numbers that don’t mean anything.

What would you do? I can tell you what I’ve done. I’ve taken both paths. Path A leads to a simple presentation, an easy life, where you go back to your desk in full coherence that you’ve not done the right thing, but you get to put your kids to bed in the evenings that week.

Path B leads to lots of questions, objections to overcome, higher degrees of scrutiny, some people’s backs out of place. Long evenings and weekends trying to piece it all together and get it packaged in a way that works.

I can always see why people would take Path A. There’s a lot to be said for an easy life. I can tell you that personally I did not sleep any easier for getting more family time, or delivering a painless presentation. What kept me awake was knowing I had acted against my best judgement and taken the easy way out.

That’s why the next time I had the opportunity I took Path B. After all the initial work has gone into getting buy-in for the concept, the better outcomes and more intricate degree of analysis and reporting actually means although it costs you more on the front end, it saves you on the backend. It also means, as a senior marketer, you’re able to get your hands on the holy grail…demonstrable Return on Investment. A clear causal effect: if the business did not do this activity, then this revenue and gross profit would never have been realised.

When ROI numbers are operating a high degrees of X, it turns out to be very nice for your career in the long run. Perhaps more importantly, it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling that you’re getting recognition and reward for doing great things and that you’re also staying true to what it means to be the best – to do the things that got you into marketing in the first place. Staying agile, being creative, being ahead of the competition, being excited, and testing your minerals against a new challenge. Exciting stuff!

My advice would be, if you’re looking to supercharge lead generation and business development, especially if the chips are down, then it’s time to look at doing something different.