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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
VC John believes B2B firms underestimate the investment and commitment required to run a successful ABM program. “It has the potential to be gold when done right”, he says, “but companies have to be willing to jump into the deep end and not just wet their feet.” John would know. In his role as Regional VP, Marketing & Communications (BFSI) at Accenture, he drives mid- and long-term marketing strategies for the vertical. He also draws on over 18 years of experience deploying growth strategies for IBM, O&M, startups and others.
At Accenture, Account Based Marketing (ABM) has evolved over the years, taking its cue from a strategic business decision to target fewer customers while developing deeper relationships within customer organizations. John spoke with Digital CMO and shared what drives ABM success at Accenture.
Interviewed by Susan Joseph
/ / How has ABM evolved over the years at Accenture?
The notion of ABM as a strategic direction—as opposed to corporate marketing—was the natural consequence of a business-led strategy to target fewer customers while developing greater engagement. Customers are classified as Diamond, Opportunistic, and Foundational. When you have customers who invest that much, marketing to them has to be highly customized and oriented to their needs. So we go beyond being a “technology vendor”. We do everything from customized research to building enablement channels to help them make the best use of our solution offering. ABM fitted perfectly with this philosophy. As a result of what the business was doing, the Accenture marketing organization decided to rally around these key accounts and build an area of expertise, that was different from corporate marketing which was ‘everything for everyone’.
/ / Who owns ABM at Accenture?
ABM is an integral part of marketing. It is a drill down of the broader corporate marketing strategy and how that vision translates in terms of a particular account. Then there's the sales team. ABM starts with sales. The sales team identifies Diamond accounts. Once identified, the marketing team addresses specific needs of the customer and provides customized marketing campaigns which are aimed at (1) strengthening client relationships, (2) influencing cross-sell and up-sell and (3) enabling customer teams. It covers an element of support which traditionally doesn’t fall under marketing. But marketing takes it on because it requires a high level of effective communication to ensure the customer gets maximum value from the assets the customer has bought from us.
/ / Tell us something about the teams that are assigned to specific ABM accounts?
The dedicated core team varies between three and seven persons. In addition, this team has access to specialized shared resources like digital marketing, analytics, marketing automation, Marketo and Salesforce experts. The core team comprise experts in the client’s business space, plus digital, analytics as well as research and content specialists.
/ / What role does technology play in strengthening the ABM function?
Technology is the bedrock of our ABM practice. Let’s take a step back. The role of marketing is two-fold – corporate marketing and what I call ‘business’ marketing under which ABM falls. Business marketing cannot function without being SMART, i.e., informed, agile and adaptive. To be trusted advisors to a client, the marketing organization needs to analyze real-time data actively, convert that into insights, and then act on those insights in a measurable way through marketing automation. So on one end, we have ‘research-led insights’ and on the other end, ‘marketing automation-led insights’. This is a continual process with refinements made during each cycle. This allows us to track, improve and deliver quality engagements with our clients. Technology is at the center of it all.
/ / What does the online and offline marketing mix look like for an ABM account?
Most of our engagement is offline as we want to be available to the client. For diamond clients, the typical mix would be around 70/30 with 30% being online. The online component can include dedicated portals, usage of social media to “bang the drum” for something said or done by their executive leadership. We also do online surveys, research and develop co-branded thought leadership material. Offline, we do a lot, in terms of conducting monthly insight workshops for client teams to bring them up to speed with the latest and the best, and hosting them at prestigious international sporting events, such as the US Open or the IPL.
/ / Do you see online increasing in the future?
Social media’s ability to bring about personal and meaningfully engaging opportunity is, in my opinion, limited as of now. However, advances in video technology, seamless access to people via handhelds or other futuristic technology like holograms, may be able overcome that barrier, but otherwise, even in our personal experiences, there are limitations to building relationships online. I differentiate between building relationships and making contact, which is easy using social and digital media. You can stay on people's radar and have a high recall, but these don't add up to building a relationship, which is a whole lot more personal. Social and digital have a way to go before we transcend that barrier.
/ / What role does AI play in the ABM practice?
AI plays a very significant role, as everything we do for an account is driven by analytics, ranging from identifying key personas, favorite topics, the frequency of access, time spent and more. We are able to track which kind of tactic works with each client, and tailor campaigns accordingly. This maximizes return on investment and effort.
/ / What business benefits have ABM afforded Accenture – has it been a case of deeper engagement and more business?
The answer is a definite YES. We see superior client engagement when ABM is at play, which in course of time, converts to meaningful business transactions as well. The fact that we are getting stronger with our ABM discipline, only means that it is working in spades.
/ / What kind of challenges have you faced when implementing an ABM program?
The most common challenge we face with ABM is having the necessary breadth and depth of knowledge on the marketing side. It is twofold: (1) breadth and depth of understanding of that industry and the nuances of the client’s subsector, and (2) understanding the client’s own internal dynamics. One client would love a microsite with daily updates, discussion boards, engagement around people asking Q’s or raising complaints, scheduling for the next workshop, feedback on a workshop, building content, etc. Another client may not be open to such a solution, and this becomes a challenge for continuous, consistent communication. This can result in disparate, ad hoc tactics that reduce the overall impact, which we have to work around.
/ / What are the metrics that you use in ABM?
We use mainly two metrics. (1) Campaign performance and quality of engagement; it’s not just about clickthroughs anymore. We want to see deeper engagement in the form of downloads, comments, feedback and more. (2) Contribution to business action; did it trigger a business enquiry or a business conversation? Did it lead to a cross-sell/up-sell opportunity? You have to remember that these clients are already in multi-year, billion dollar contracts with us. Finding cross-sell, and up-sell opportunities are not easy. We have to use every tool in our arsenal intelligently to create and demonstrate impact.
/ / Do you think companies are investing enough in ABM?
A full-fledged ABM is something that only really serious industry marketing organizations do; all the big players do fantastic jobs. Considering the amount of investment that a real ABM program demands, it's clearly a strategic decision that the company has to make. A lot of people go half-way, i.e., do regular industry marketing plus something special from time to time, just to influence clients to make a new buy or renew a contract.
/ / 3 suggestions to companies thinking of starting their ABM efforts today?
Transitioning to an ABM organization
Marketing, at its core, is a process of understanding consumer needs, to design goods and services that satisfy these needs better than existing competition.
ABM will help you deliver a real-world experience in the digital space
Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head, Marketing, Service Quality, VAS & Innovation, Thomas Cook (India)
AI has huge potential to transform ABM meaningfully
Apurv Bhatnagar, Associate Vice President, Kore.ai
ABM is a marathon, not a sprint
Anamika Gupta, Director and Head of Account Based Marketing at Fujitsu America, Inc.
Investing in ABM should be a no-brainer for B2B enterprises
Virender Jeet, SVP, Sales & Marketing/Products, Newgen Software Technologies Limited
The right type of events can play an integral role in your ABM plans
Nerissa Traola, Director, Demand Generation, CA Technologies
In ABM, personalization is not an afterthought – it is part of the strategy
Yashdeep Vaishnav, Director, Marketing Cloud, Salesforce
I would say ABM is a big cultural shift for companies, and AI is only a small part of that
Todd Berkowitz, Managing Vice President, Tech GTM Marketing, Product & Sales, Gartner Inc.
ABM is more cost-effective than traditional marketing
Jennifer Toton, Vice President, Marketing, RollWorks
Companies that have invested time into developing their account strategy are likely to benefit from ABM
Chandra Sekar, Vice President, Marketing, Avi Networks
ABM is a journey of understanding a prospect's business pains and challenges and addressing them
K. P. Unnikrishnan, Senior Director & Head, Marketing, APAC, Palo Alto Networks
ABM is akin to fishing with a spear instead of casting a wide net
Sumit Srivastava, Head, Corporate Marketing Analytics & Operations, LexisNexis Risk Solutions
The return on investment of ABM is far more than a generic broad-based marketing approach
Samik Roy, Country Head (Dynamics), Microsoft India
One-size-fits-all content is not good enough for ABM
Paul McMeekin, Director, Marketing, ACI Worldwide
ABM is important, but how it gets implemented becomes the differentiating factor
Subhendu Pattnaik, AVP & Head, Global Marketing and Demand Generation, Cigniti Technologies
ABM has become a force primarily because there is way too much clutter and irrelevance in the marketplace
Arpan Dasgupta, Partner, Financial Services and VP, Global Consulting, Fractal Analytics