ABM: Beyond the buzzwords

  • 07 Sep 2023
Alisha Lyndon

Alisha Lyndon

In the world of B2B marketing, few strategies have gained as much traction as ABM. This highly personalized approach has not only transformed the way businesses connect with their most valuable customers but also ushered in a new era of marketing sophistication.

In our recent ABM Podcast, we had a candid conversation with Arlyn Knox, CMO at Redwood Logistics, about why ABM is far from being just another marketing buzzword.

From aspiring president to ABM advocate

Arlyn’s journey to Redwood Logistics has been one of twists and turns – and a far cry from her original plan. During her four years at George Washington University, she nurtured dreams of entering politics, even aspiring to be the next President of the US. However, Arlyn quickly discovered that her true passion lay elsewhere.

It was an unexpected turn of events that brought her to the bustling IT scene of Washington, DC, where she found herself immersed in the realm of SaaS. While at Blue Yonder, Arlyn and her team were eager to embrace modern marketing approaches, and so began her ABM journey.

“It was a wild ride of driving valuation through marketing and one of those key pillars was certainly ABM. We knew we wanted to get into this sort of modern marketing approach. We were constantly testing and trying new solutions, new tool sets and digging into ways to connect with prospects and customers in new and exciting ways. And ABM, for us, really was that skyrocket to the future for marketing. So, we were hook line and sinker on it.”

Wrapping customers in love

A relentless client focus has been the driving force behind Arlyn’s success. Early on, she saw the importance of meeting customers where they were and restructured entire teams to align with the customer journey. No longer was the emphasis on how the business was structured; it was about adapting to the unique ways customers engaged with them.

Arlyn explains this shift: “The focus was on speed to market – how quickly can we get this customer value in the solution that they bought? How can we focus on the customer from start to finish to wrap them in the love and get them feeling like we’re a partner in their journey, and are as much ingrained in their success as they are? That approach to customers is ABM.”

Breaking free from one-size-fits-all

One thing that’s increasingly apparent in marketing – ABM in particular – is there’s no one solution that works for all. Each customer and organization is inherently unique, so the solutions must be too. ABM strategies need to be tailored to meet each customer’s needs and off-the-shelf approaches simply won’t cut it.

“If anyone thinks they can come in and just rinse repeat a program, that’s not going to work,” Arlyn stresses. “I realized straight away at Redwood how the team is focused on this prescriptive, personalized approach – ensuring we can get the depth and breadth of our solutions across our existing customer base that they’ve built for over 30 years. I think ABM plays a very great tactic in that cross-sell approach. As you go after prospects you can utilize intense signals and turn that ‘dark funnel’ on to see who else is out there and how we get invited to more dances.”

The digital revolution

As landscapes shift and customer needs evolve, technology stands as the catalyst for innovation and transformation. Over the last decade, the impact of tech on marketing strategies has been eye opening, and fundamentally altered the way organizations approach problem solving and customer-centricity.

As a self-proclaimed ‘huge fan of technology’, Arlyn believes modern tool sets unlock many opportunities. “We’re able to better understand a customer and realize what they’re researching and how they’re researching it,” she says. “What’s their journey? What are they talking about? What problems are they telling us (without actually telling us) that we can get ahead of? And then how can we adapt our marketing strategy to answer some of those pain points? I think we wouldn’t be the marketers we are today if it wasn’t for technology. You don’t have to have the biggest budget in the world, but ensure your tool is completely implemented and aligned with your other tool sets to get the most benefit from it.”

Slow and steady wins the race

ABM is a journey, not a destination. It’s not about deploying every available tool at once – it’s about thoughtful integration and a clear focus on extracting the maximum value each step of the way.

“It’s not just throwing everything that you possibly can at the kitchen sink,” says Arlyn. “I’ve seen a lot of people do that and it doesn’t work well. We’ve done it; we’ve almost grown too quickly and had to take a step back. We figured out sometimes you got to slow down a little bit, and not go too crazy too fast.”

What would Arlyn say to someone starting or building out an ABM program?

“Oh boy, buckle up. It’s a bumpy ride! But it’s well worth it when you get those wins, and when you can celebrate with your sales team on a new prospect that you brought in, and you can watch that journey of how you guys walked together hand in hand to successfully bring on that customer.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

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Alisha Lyndon

Alisha Lyndon