5 February 2024
Jack Rawlings ▪︎ Head of ABM & James Dignum ▪︎ Senior Art Director
How can you introduce creativity into ABM? From ideation, to data, to creative process tips, Jack and James explore how to unlock accounts with creativity.
Jack Rawlings is a seasoned Marketer with experience in both B2C and B2B worlds. In his role as a Head of ABM at strategicabm, he works with Marketing and Sales teams of leading B2B tech brands to develop impactful ABM strategies to meet their growth objectives.
James is a Senior Creative who has worked closely with teams around the globe to deliver the Big Ideas for B2B and B2C clients. His main goal? Create beautiful and meaningful work that drives engagement and delivers real results.
Fast forward your team's ABM learning and accelerate your growth
Subscribe to our ABM insights and podcast releases.
Align outside-of-the-box ideas with account insight, and you’ll create memorable work that truly understands, inspires, and speaks the language of your accounts.
So what does it take to introduce unique creativity into ABM? In this episode of ABM Under the Hood, Jack dives into the creative process with James Dignum, Senior Art Director at strategicabm.
Jack Rawlings (strategicabm) – Hello and welcome to another episode of ABM Under the Hood. I'm joined today by my colleague, James. James is an Art Director, Senior Art Director here at Strategic. Thanks very much for joining me today, James.
James Dignum (strategicabm) – Thanks for having me on. Really excited to chat all things creative with you. Really excited.
Jack (strategicabm) – Absolutely, so yeah, that's the topic of today's episode. We're going to be discussing the creative side of ABM, in particular, with a focus around why creativity and why a creative approach is so important to the success of ABM programs, and talking a little bit about different types of activities that you can do from a creative perspective.
But yeah, so to start things off, James, in terms of the importance of creativity and the impact of creativity on ABM, what do you think is the benefits of bringing this creative approach to the table?
James (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think that's a really good starting point. I think if we look back maybe 10 years ago, in terms of the B2B Marketing space and where B2B sat, even as advertising, it wasn't always the most exciting of places to actually start advertising in. I think, majority of people, if you look back at that time, they'll see B2B as very much white papers, email marketing, very much just, here's a picture, here's a bit of text. It didn't feel very engaging.
And so, over the last 10 years we've seen a big jump from B2B audiences being treated very much as B2C audiences, as well. So, they want to get engaged with this creativity. They want to get talked to like a real person. And one of the easiest ways of doing that is changing how you talk to people in a visual language. If you want people to engage with your brand, you have to break away from the norms.
And we're seeing that a lot with some of the clients that even we are working with, they don't just want the same campaigns they've run over and over and over again. They want something different. They want something that stands out.
And it's like we were saying, I suppose, with the different channels, we've also seen an explosion on what's possible in terms of what places that we can play in. If we look back, whereas, beforehand it might have just been, like I said before, a simple landing page and a simple email marketing ad. Those channels have changed. LinkedIn has become so much more of a vibrant space to play in and there's huge opportunities for us to really engage with our audiences and do something different, just by having that visual aspect added to it.
Jack (strategicabm) – Absolutely. Yeah, I think that's a really good point. And you know, when it comes to that... In terms of the, what B2B has learned from B2C, in a way, that seems to be the direction that we're headed in at the moment, right?
I think B2C has been, I don't know if it's ahead of the game or if B2B is behind, but essentially there's always been a gap between what the B2C type of advertisers and Marketers do versus what's happening in B2B. But I think that gap is narrowing now, right?
And there's, there's a lot of things that are coming, probably partly down to, as you say, these channels that are available to us now that maybe weren't available previously. Is certainly something that allows us to bring some of that creativity that we have seen in B2C into B2B.
James (strategicabm) – Exactly. And I suppose one of the other things, as well, is there's been a lot more attention given to how Marketing as a function works within B2B organizations. B2C has always had the run ahead because it's how do you directly engage with consumers? They've always had that, I suppose, 10 second head start, just because they need to be on trend. They need to be ahead of the game, they need to be talking to people straight away. They need to be capturing engagement.
B2B has been able to sit back on its laurels a bit because they've always been associated, like I said before, white papers, emails. There's not been that sense of urgency to actually talk to the right people at the right time. Whereas that's all flipped on its head now.
I think if anything, B2B is now trying to not just catch up but outpace B2C because they're so aware of content hasn't been up to scratch for the engagement side. I'm not saying it's been bad, but it's just not been the right tone and the right style to actually engage with people. So now they're having to keep innovating, keep doing something new, keep looking for new methodologies. Something might come up within the B2C space and B2B Marketers are already looking at how that can impact their audiences and their market.
So it's really that key differentiation that's happened over, like I said, I see it more over the last 10 years than anything. I think that's where I've seen that space grow. But yeah, it's an exciting time to play in it, an exciting time to actually start building campaigns for these people, because there's such a sense of excitement around it as well. There's a real want to do creative things. There's a real want to actually dive in it deeper and do something a bit different.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, absolutely, yeah. Do you see that that with our clients that there is that slightly braver attitude from clients when it comes to what they are willing to try from a creative side of things?
James (strategicabm) – Absolutely. I think it's always that... it's always that difficult challenge. And I suppose, with ABM as a framework, one of the things that we always say is, because it's such a targeted campaign and because it's such a focused campaign and you're only reaching a specific set of accounts, you are more open.
That's how we position it. We are more open to break the guidelines – well I won't say break the guidelines – flex the guidelines a little bit, just to do something a bit more exciting. And ABM is where we are given those tools and clients want that because clients, not to say that the Marketing hasn't worked so far, but they really want to see what their Marketing can do.
It's almost like ABM is such a good testing ground to say, "Okay, we are launching with this new message, obviously from the value propositions, creative copywriting, creative design, we're combining all of these things into a campaign." And you're almost running a test run on it, in my eyes. We're just doing this small test, we've got a captured audience. Everything's so specific. Does it resonate, does it work? Does that flip from a certain level of, I don't know, if you look at adding in just real simple design effects, like just brightening up the colors of the brand, adding in gradients to add a little bit of depth, change the photography style, how does that impact, how does that change the conversations?
And I think that's what people want to see, because they want to see something different anyway. And having that ability to just have this interesting way to play and test and see the results almost as a live feed is perfect for brands and perfect for the big organizations, 'cause they get to experiment, they get to have a sandbox moment for just testing out different strategies, testing out different styles.
And we've seen it across clients. I think the bolder approaches do pay off and it's just more proof that they can go back with as well and say, "This has worked, this is where we've got really good engagement, this is where we're seeing value." And it opens up the conversations as well.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think you're right. I definitely feel like there's a mentality that because ABM is almost like a, as you say, sandbox, it's like a separate entity from the main Marketing and advertising activities of the brand. And therefore, there is that slight more leeway with what can be done. Because as you say, it's only going to be seen by a handful of people, generally speaking, versus the more mass market type activities. So, there is a little bit more willingness to risk things I suppose, which makes, yeah... Actually, absolutely makes it fun for us working with these businesses. To be able to do that stuff.
So, in terms of when you are thinking about these types of creative ideas and building out these concepts and things like that. If you put yourself in the shoes of someone in-house looking to build out a creative ABM campaign concept idea, something like that. Like where should they start? What's the, what's the first thing that you look to draw on to get these ideas? Is it a little bit more... Is it coming from the ether a little bit? Is it something that's not necessarily easy to describe?
James (strategicabm) – It's a tough one. I think if you are that in-house stakeholder, the one bit of advice, I suppose the key bit of advice is get the right people in the right place at the right time. I think that's the key thing.
'Cause like we said, with the ABM campaigns, it can end up looking so different from anything that they might have done before. And the key thing to note with, like, ABM campaigns and concepts is we don't just... They're not just pulled out the air. We don't kind of just say, "This is a style that we want to go with. We've changed X, Y, Z for no reason." It is all very much grounded in data and insights.
I think that's what one of the key differentiators is. Because obviously there's so much work behind the creative campaigns that sometimes it can be a bit of a shock to the system if you've got someone that hasn't been in that full journey and they're just seeing it for the first time.
And it could be as simple as someone from the internal branding team, or it could be as simple as there's someone who sits within the Marketing team on a different, or within the Marketing team as a whole, but sits within a slightly different team and they're getting them in for the first time. It will be a shock to the system and it will put you on the back foot. Especially if it's, again, different colors, brighter, funkier, really different. So, having the right people along for the full journey really does help.
And that's not even like a creative thing. That's just in general, bringing people along for the journey. 'Cause that's what we do. We tend to, build in things like tissue sessions and playbacks and all these things so that the client themselves are along for the journey.
And it just helps to build the familiarity with it. It's not such a, like I said, such a big shock, but you then have more of an understanding of how we've got from A to B as well. You're along for that story. So, it really doesn't then come as both a surprise, and it shows that we have taken all the understandings from things like the value propositions, from things like the insights, you understand what audiences you are playing in.
'Cause obviously, even simple things if you are targeting entertainment sectors versus financial sectors, there's whole different ways of how you're going to be talking to those clients. So, we want to make sure that everyone is kind of clued up on the same level so that when they actually come to those decision makings, it isn't tough for them and it makes it easier to sell in, as well.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think that's such a good point, and one thing that I've definitely started to realize over the years working with clients is how much of ABM is about internal stakeholder management. Whether that's with the Sales team, and Sales and Marketing alignment, which I talk about all the time, or whether it's with C-suite and executive stakeholders that are, kind of, maybe holding the purse strings or, as you say, potentially just other team members that maybe only get involved very sporadically with the program and seeing these things in kind of snap, little bursts.
How do you go about ensuring that those people don't come in and feel completely, like, alienated from the activities or don't understand what's going on? That's absolutely, it seems so crucial, I think, to the success of programs, but also just being able to do the programs in the way that you want to do them. So yeah, I think that's absolutely a really good point.
And I think what you said there around data-led approaches from our side, we obviously, I mean that's kind of my role in the business, and my team's role is to build that picture of the accounts, understand the target accounts, the contacts within the accounts, understand as much as possible from a, sort of, data and insights perspective, who we're going after and why, what's the challenge, what's this pain point, all of that kind of stuff, right? So that's, that's kind of where we come in and feed that information to you guys on the creative side.
But how do you find that transition from the data and insight side of things into the creative works in practise? Do you find that you are requiring... Is it quite an easy process to sort of see that view of where an account's at, what does that mean in how it's going to translate into a creative concept? Or is it something that you've had to obviously practise over time, you've had experience doing?
James (strategicabm) – I think it's definitely a mix. Luckily, I've kind of sat in a similar kind of role within companies for long enough that it does feel like second nature. But there's still a lot of work that goes into it, because it's that key understanding of who you are trying to talk to, I think, makes the biggest difference to the success of the campaign.
And like you said, the strategy, I think Creatives will take credit for a lot of things because obviously the end output is the shiny thing that everyone looks at. But realistically, I've said it before on calls, the creative is almost like the cherry on top of the cake. And it's both such a small part of the workings that have gone into it, but there's such a bigger visual element. Not visual, but there's such a bigger element to it.
The main structure is the strategy, the insights, the data, all those different things. And being able to actually like go in and pinpoint what you need and what specific element of the strategy actually resonates. And you can see, oh, okay, this is going to talk to this client really well.
It sometimes takes a little bit longer than others. Sometimes you can be sat there looking at a brief for two, three days and hitting your head against a wall and saying, "There's something here. There's something here", but it's not jumping out at you.
Whereas, other times for other briefs, we've looked at the value proposition obviously, like Creative and Content working so closely together. You're both sitting there, you're both seeing the same value proposition and there's a snapshot of a phrase that jumps out to you and you both land on it immediately and say, "That's it. That's our hook for the campaign." How do you build it out? It all just trickles down into one seamless, kind of, vision as it were.
So, it's always that. So, it's how long is a piece of string, kind of question? Sometimes it can be easy. Sometimes it can be a whole painful whirlwind of things.
Jack (strategicabm) – I find it so interesting that the... Because the, from my perspective, what happens is either myself or my team, we provide you with that kind of, that snapshot of everything, all the insights and account data and whatever else. And then pass it across. And then the next thing I see is an idea, an actual fleshed-out thing.
I don't... Sometimes I get involved in the brainstorming sessions and things like that, but more often than not, what happens is I provide you with all of that information and then I see this, kind of, this concept come out off the back of it. And I'm always just kind of like... It's always a big, a pleasant surprise, a shock to see. Like, how what I've done has then translated into that is always quite, yeah. It's a big jump, I find.
But I guess the other element of that, and the thing that I always find quite impressive with what you guys do is the ability to not, kind of, fall into cliché and the same types of patterns of creative and content that we see all the time, right?
So, I very rarely see from you guys, you know, if we're doing a pharmaceutical campaign, you know, people in white lab coats and holding test tubes and all of that kind of stuff. It's not often that you kind of fall back on that sort of cliché stuff. And so how do you... Is that something that you're, kind of, mindful of, that you're trying to avoid that, or is it something that you just naturally don't lean towards?
James (strategicabm) – I think it's things like that are a great question because it's also a bit like, you are trying to track back in your mind and be like, "How does it work?" Like you said it's quite difficult to try and pull out. But pharmaceuticals is a great kind of example, 'cause there's so many restraints that, until you do some pharmaceutical work, you don't know about.
But to make things stand out, I think the best way that we do it, it's like you've mentioned before, brainstorms. Brainstorming an idea is the key aspect to any creative build. Because I think Creatives can get so siloed in their own world and their own presence. They'll only see things from one viewpoint. But being able to actually put down ideas onto paper and not just have your own idea, have other people's ideas around it, just helps broaden the narrative and helps broaden the conversation so that you are less likely to land on the same thing over and over again.
It's also, obviously, like with the team, you have so many different viewpoints and I think sometimes, as someone that, like I said, I've done this for a few years now. I'm not going to say I've got the most experience under my belt, but I've done this for a few years now. You could easily fall into the same pattern of just rehashing the same work over and over again. But when you're working with other team members, you can basically pick their brains as well.
That's the benefit of it, is you get their points of view. And it might be something as simple as they've just put down a certain image on the brainstorm and, kind of, mood board, and that immediately ignites someone else's idea and that immediately ignites someone else's thought process. And it's this trickle down system of, okay, it all then starts linking up and then it's our job as the Creative Leads to take those away and just build the actual picture behind it.
So, it is a collaborative approach. There's no one person that's in charge of it. There's no one person that comes up with the idea. It is 100%, there's a team behind it that actually builds out the ideas. And that's what keeps it fresh, realistically. It's just that, the different viewpoints, the different life experience, everything that comes together to then shape the creative.
And it's an interesting process. I'm not going to say, like I said, it's a 'how long is a piece of string?' in terms of, it doesn't necessarily take a specific format and it doesn't take a certain amount of time, but it does follow the same principles in the sense of, you put the idea down onto paper and it's just the build, it's the scaling it out. I think that's the main thing, is you scale out the ideas and then you just build out from that almost central point to say, "Okay, this is then the fully scoped idea." And then you take that and kind of visualize it.
And like you said, you avoid the clichés, but sometimes clichés work, it depends on the kind of campaign, that tone you're going for. Sometimes they do fall into place and you can use them to your advantage.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, that is a good point actually, yeah.
So, in terms of that sort of next stage then, so obviously, from your perspective you'll be creating like a concept, a theme, a kind of look and feel. And then, when it comes to turning that into something you know, a bit more physical, the actual kind of tactics, assets, channel engagement strategies, all of that kind of stuff.
So, what does that process look like for you when you've kind of had a creative theme, say in our case, signed off by a client. If it was for someone working in-house, they would have it, you know confirmed by whoever their internal stakeholders are. You get that creative theme, that concept, that idea signed off. How do you then go about moving that into something tangible, you know, actual assets?
James (strategicabm) – I think that's where, again, it's that kind of big team picture because it's a perfect opportunity to, in the perfect world is, like, realign with everyone. So, you've got the Creative, the Copywriter, the Strategists, and obviously, like for us, we then work on the process of, is there some key event or asset that they want to produce? Is there something they've got in mind?
We'll obviously do things like the gap analysis, and we'll run audits just to see, is there any piece of content that might be missing? So, do they have a wealth of blog posts but they don't actually have a good eBook? Do they have tons of written content? Do they not have any video content? We'll obviously go through and analyze those in tandem with the, kind of, do they have an event that they're going to be hosting? Do we think it's suitable for us to have a presence at that event or is there content we can create for that event?
And that kind of informs it. You almost have the destination that you want them to go to, and then you build it back from there.
So obviously, within our framework, we say that Educate is our key milestone. Educate can take a lot of different formats, but we tend to say a digital experience works best because it doesn't matter where you're based, it doesn't matter what your, kind of, goals are. It doesn't matter if you've got tons of information or little information. You can still build a decent digital experience out of those key components. And then it's just, how do you drive the audience there, and then how do you continue the journey after they're in that kind of digital space.
So, I suppose when we come to doing things like our Awareness stage, it's obviously, the easiest methodology is social. It's kind of that social awareness and social ads. So, we'll build out different ad set types. And a lot of that, as well, comes not just from specific audience learnings, but the bigger picture.
Obviously things... LinkedIn has said over the years that it's gone from static ads to video ads, and now there's more of a focus on document ads and carousels. We obviously build a lot of those learnings into how we build the assets, because it's important for us to make sure, whatever asset that we are building and however we want to publish assets or build the campaign, that they're still getting the best traction possible. We don't want it to be a case where they're actually just, kind of, I don't know, just scrolling past the static when a video could have worked and grabbed their engagement first, or further.
Same thing with carousel was like, we don't want to necessarily push them down a route that, okay, this is kind of an old hat, as it were. Just with the static element. We want to give them something that might be slightly new and will just drive more of that engagement.It's that, you kind of have to go forward and then work your way backwards to actually decide how to get them there.
Obviously that is that further stage as well. So, how do we want them to react after the plan? Is there a specific CTA that we want them to go to? All of those different things then add up and that will kind of inform how we move them through further as well.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, makes sense. And so I guess, kind of what you're saying there is starting with the objective of the program, right, or the campaign and then working back from that. That's definitely, yeah, absolutely a good idea.
And in terms of the channels then, so we obviously are kind of constantly keeping an eye on the developments in different channels and spaces and content types and all of that kind of stuff. What I find often is that, particularly on like LinkedIn and social and that kind of stuff, is that a tactic will kind of come onto the scene, a new tactic will appear, it gets really kind of jumped on, overused to the point where then it's no longer effective. That seems to happen, kind of rinse and repeat with LinkedIn.
But is there anything that you think, are there any types of tactics or channels or content assets or creative styles, or anything like that that you think is almost, kind of, evergreen? It kind of screams pure quality, and regardless of the trends and the timings and all of that sort of stuff, it's going to be broadly effective if it's done in the right way. Is there anything that you, kind of, think about in that way?
James (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think the big thing is, and it's not a specific to ABM kind of thing, but I think live person experiences and live person events are always going to be the ones that pay off. Not just from, you have the people having the conversation at the events, but I think people sometimes forget that the events themselves are basically content generators. You have speakers, you have booths, you have people running demonstrations, you have all of these things going on simultaneously.
So, over the space of two days you could have three months worth of content. And that's something that, no matter how the industry changes and how people change, they're still going to want to do in-person events, they're still going to want to have that kind of interaction with people. They're still going to want to see speakers, they're still going to want to meet up with peers and have those kind of, not just the formal and professional interactions, but very much personal interactions, as well. That I don't think is going to change anytime soon.
And obviously, with the last few years being as they were and the pandemic and that obviously grinding to a halt very quickly, we are seeing them come back, and we're seeing them come back bigger and better than they have been before.
And that's where, I think, I don't think anyone will underplay or undervalue how much an event can generate interest and generate, kind of, awareness. But it's that content aspect of it. It is that you can really do interesting things with the content that comes off the back of an event.
Even soundbites. I think people underestimate the value of a soundbite. Because if you just added certain animations to it or built kind of different carousels on it, built on, kind of, the expressions that people are using, again, it's more and more content. You just have this bank that you can refer to.
And it's a great way to talk or start conversations on LinkedIn. Like obviously, we've all experienced kind of from our own separate brand building and our own presences on LinkedIn, the best way to start conversations with people is to tag people and start actually interacting with them.
So, if you are having that ability on LinkedIn where you've got generated content and you can just tag people and kind of start these little micro conversations across your feed, that's going to pay off dividends for you and that's going to start the conversations. Either pick up conversations, that's going to continue those conversations as they move through.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think I mean yeah, it's such a good point and 100%, you know, post-lockdowns and all of that kind of stuff I think there was, there was a real boost and interest in live events again. I think it's kind of leveling out, but leveling out at a high level, right?
And there's still always going to be that want for it. And I think when we... The point you made there around it being a content generator in and of itself, I think is so important because I think people, businesses often look at events as expensive, resource heavy, you know, takes a lot of time to get things prepared for them, blah, blah, blah.
And that is often true. You know, you can do things in a, you can always find cheaper ways of doing things, quicker ways of doing things, you know, whatever. But broadly speaking, as an activity, it's going to be more expensive and resource heavy than a digital activity, for example.
However, the ROI on that activity, potentially, is so much more significant, not just from, as you say, the perspective of being able to generate conversations and leads and relationships and whatever else, but also from the perspective of, yeah, that's your content calendar sorted for the next three, six months, you know, if you play it right, and so, you're actually saving yourself a huge amount of time and resource in the long run, even though there may be more investment upfront.
So yeah, it's not for everyone, as well. You know, there's obviously going to be businesses that, for whatever reason, that it isn't the right approach. And I think, some types of target markets, as well, events aren't necessarily the right approach because it's a bit more of a closed system or it's a bit more, kind of... Or sometimes it's that there's actually kind of like there's too many steps involved in the buy-in process. Too many, too many different people involved in the buy-in process. So trying to create an event for all of them just isn't going to work. It's just, you know, 'nothing to no one' type thing. But yeah, for a lot of businesses, I think events is a huge positive approach if done well. So, that you're kind of set.
We're talking there about an activity that is almost evergreen. In terms of the future of creative in ABM, what are you seeing as, or what would you think will be the direction that things head in terms of tactics, channels, approaches, that kind of stuff?
Obviously, it's impossible to have that question without talking about AI, and it's something that we bring up on pretty much every podcast episode, but presumably there's going to be some element of that that you think is going to infiltrate into the creative approach in ABM. But anything on that side of things and anything else that you're seeing?
James (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think AI is obviously an interesting one and like you said, it is top of everyone's list of things to look out for over the next few years. I don't know how much AI is going to take, it's not going to be a central pillar in terms of how ABM and creative is going to run. I think AI for Creatives is very much just going to be a tool.
So AI would come in super handy when we're talking about like personalization. Obviously if you're doing big sets of personalization mapping, AI, just getting someone to almost do the artwork and 'churn and burn' style work, that's where it's going to come in super handy.
And it's going to really help just to kind of set a foundation, I suppose, if Creatives that might not necessarily have hands-on coding experience can upload designs into certain AI generators then actually build out landing pages, even just to test on them, that's going to be the way forward. So, it is going to be really interesting to see how that develops through.
But I think overall, in terms of ABM, I've had this discussion with a few different people, but I personally think that ABM on a One-to-many level is just going to become Marketing. That is going to be how Marketing is going to run over the next, kind of, five to 10 years.
One-to-many is going to become the focus because it allows for a certain level of personalization, it allows for conversations to be had and it is, in reality, the cheaper option in One-to-many, One-to-few, One-to-one. But it's scalable as well. It allows companies to, especially – and I suppose, linked back to AI–- it allows companies to scale it as well. They don't just have to be stuck in a, you've got 150 accounts, that's all you could do. With AI, there's potential to scale up to 1000s of accounts and actually run it that way. Which I think would be an absolute benefit.
And One-to-many is going to change in definition, but ABM's going to become more valuable in that One-to-one and One-to-few space. I think that's where we're going to see creativity really thrive, 'cause people are going to want those really tailored experiences.
And I don't mean like big just experiences like events and all that kind of stuff, but I personally think the DM's going to have a bit of a comeback. People are going to want those almost personalized desk drop experiences, however they come to fruition. Whether they're gifts or whether they're, I don't know, something tactile where there's even a TV in a card, that kind of thing. Those kind of desk drops and those kind of interactions are going to become more and more valuable.
'Cause I think people are going to get, I won't say sick of it, but I think people are going to get quite overwhelmed with the barrage of kind of normal Marketing. So, to cut through the noise, people are going to want those very personalized experiences and that's where ABM's going to come into the forefront and kind of say, "Yeah, cool, yeah we can do that. We can talk to the people 'cause we've got all these insights and we know who they are. We can tailor these experiences to them." And that's where the value is going to really be.
And that's where creativity is going to become more important because it's, like we said before, if you're talking to a One-to-one, you can flex the creativity a little bit further. You don't have to necessarily stick to those guidelines 'cause no one else is going to see it. As long as it's got the key foundations for your brand in it, you can do whatever you want with it.
You can be build some really beautiful experiences with it and that's going to pay off 'cause I think it's going to help that brand recognition, it's going to help those conversations start and it's going to really push to the forefront the fact that your brand isn't just a one dimensional, "Okay, we've seen it on LinkedIn". It is three dimensional. You're seeing it in real life, you're experiencing it, you're able to be tactile with it and you can, you get more of an understanding of how the brand works, as well.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think you're spot on because what we've definitely noticed as a, kind of, trend in terms of engagement rates and that kind of stuff is that email is just getting harder and harder by the day.
Email is not... People get so many emails now, people ignore so many emails now. I do myself. Unless it's something... Unless you've got the perfect message at the perfect time to cut through and obviously that starts with the subject line, right? But it has to be so absolutely spot on that otherwise it's just not going to land.
And even with all of the insights work that we do, all of the value proposition work we do, the messaging definition and all of that kind of stuff, even then we are not guaranteed success with email because other people are doing the same thing as well. Other businesses are doing that process. So, there's definitely ways of succeeding, but it's not... It's often some, there's some luck involved in it as well, right?
James (strategicabm) – If we like look at it in terms of what would you rather open? Would you rather open an email that feels very generic or would you rather open a personalized gift box? You're going to go with a personalized gift box, let's be real. So, like you said, email works in the right space at the right time. But I don't really see it, kind of, being the mainstay for creating Marketing going forward.
Jack (strategicabm) – No, not for creative Marketing. Absolutely. I think it's something that potentially, you know, as a Sales tool, it still has its place, right? But even then, I think Sales teams are having to get quite, you know, innovative with the approach, right?
You see things like personalized video, you see things like these, kind of, personalized GIF creators or like whiteboard tools and stuff like that, that you can kind of add into email. You might have digital gift cards and things like that. There's loads of things, even then, that potentially Sales teams are having to use to try and cut through that noise.
I think it's not... From a creative perspective, email isn't the future of Marketing, right? But it will always have its place in some ways, but it's not about that, kind of, instigation of engagement and stuff.
But I think the social side of things and the digital side is always going to, kind of, be there, certainly for the next couple of decades at least I would think. But the channels will change potentially and maybe the formats and things like that, but broadly that style of Marketing will still exist.
But in terms of creative input on that, it may well just be, as you say, that there's going to be that level of scalability that can be introduced. Right now, when you're trying to run campaigns, you can do personalized campaigns into, well, as many accounts as you've got the time and resource to do, right? Which tends not to be a huge amount.
But if you bring the AI stuff into the mix there, you could potentially be looking at doing personalized – or what feels like personalized – campaigns to hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of accounts at once, and individuals at once. Which yeah, that's where, as you say, that kind of One-to-many, what One-to-many is going to kind of evolve into.
And I think that's... I wonder, almost, if it's going to split off a little bit from ABM. That One-to-many almost, there will almost become a bit of a gap between like... 'Cause sometimes One-to-many is already called kind of like Programmatic ABM, or Automated ABM.
And actually I think, essentially, there could end up being this kind of gap, this kind of chasm between the automated side of ABM and the completely manual, personalized side of ABM. And that might be how it kind of develops, and creative will be the potential kind of battleground for that almost, I think in a way.
James (strategicabm) – Yeah, I think brands are going to be fighting. As the market gets more and more saturated, brands are going to be fighting more for their real estate. And one of the ways that brands are going to be fighting that real estate is in... We always refer to it as on LinkedIn, it's that 'stop the scroll' effect. It's, you're going through your feed and then something jumps out and you stop, you read.
'Cause I think that's where it's important to understand the human engagement, especially on LinkedIn, is you do see so many ads and text posts and all that kind of thing during the day. So, anything as an image that stops you scrolling, you then take in the headline, you take in the post copy, that's what builds the engagement.
So, like you said, with the battleground of all of these advertising, all of these consumers kind of moving forward and doing something different, and trying to fight for that number one spot, then of course the only way that they're going to really differentiate themselves is that visual style.
How are they going to push their visual style? How are they going to do something slightly different? Are they going to take it to, I mean, who knows what the technology's going to be like in 10 years, but is there a scope for there to be, like, super personalized ads that the text on the image itself is switched out and kind of changed per person and per, like, category that they're talking to?
We don't, we don't really know, but that is going to be how it's going to change and that's going to be how it's made to be different.
Jack (strategicabm) – Or even real-time change, you know, that's the thing that I think potentially we could start seeing with the development of AI and the development of processing power and all of that kind of stuff.
Like, we see it in some cases already with this kind of like switched-up, personalized, real-time ads that change dynamically depending on who's involved and all of that kind of stuff. But the scale of that is quite, it's either low scale or very expensive, depending on, you know...
But what you tend not to have is the ability to do cheap dynamic advertising at scale. And I think that's potentially something that might start happening, is that we start... Your behavior on LinkedIn, for example, in the moment as you're scrolling, will influence, not just the type of ad you see, but even influence how that ad changes for you in the moment. Depending on what you're doing and how you're engaging with it.
And I think also, the key thing is about, we live in an attention economy, right? And attention spans are lower than ever. I read a study the other day that said that they've gone from, I think it was 12 seconds down to eight seconds, down to five seconds, over the last 20 years or something like that. And it's just continuing to go down.
So we're talking about, I mean, five seconds actually seems quite a lot for me in terms of being able to kind of stay on one thing for any moment. But that isn't going to be something that people... That's not going to change anytime soon because of the technology that we are surrounded by. So, it just makes it even more important to be able to stop the scroll, as you say, right?
And actually, it becomes even more important, the visual side of things becomes more important the shorter that attention span goes. Because obviously people will kind of jump onto things that reach, that speak to them from a messaging perspective, but we're getting to that point where the attention span is so short that they're not even going to read things. It's only if it visually stands out to them that they'll stop, right?
James (strategicabm) – Yeah, it's visuals and, like you said, it's visuals and tactics. The famous analogy is you've got a C-suite that is doing God knows what over a day, how do you capture his attention for like two minutes? And the realistic thing is you've got to capture that two minutes worth of attention within one second. How are you going to do it?
Like I said, it's the visual side of stuff. You have to try and push that visual narrative to really stand out and not just stand out but actually want them to engage with the product that you're selling. And that's going to be, that two minutes turns into five minutes. That five minutes turns into a conversation, that conversation turns into, kind of, that Sales cycle. Do you know what I mean?
Obviously that's very simplified. That's a very positive view of how it works. But it's why things like desk drops and it's why things like, kind of, the physical as well as the digital kind of experiences work so well. Because you're capturing that engagement and you're capturing their... Just kind of breaking away from that two minutes or two seconds of, "Oh, I might just scroll past an email." Like you said, it doesn't capture the attention anymore.
So, actually having that point of engagement and you can really get them to focus in on something and really get them to engage with it, that's where the value comes off because that then puts them in the place of, okay, I'm engaging, I'm understanding, I'm learning, what do I want to do now?
And then pointing them through a really clear journey to be like, come talk to us, come have a conversation. That's where the value comes off from it. And that's where it's going to, like I said, as things become more and more saturated, it's going to be the differentiator between successful campaigns and the campaigns that kind of just fade a little bit into the background.
Jack (strategicabm) – Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I think that's so important what you said there. It's not, the capturing the attention or catching the attention is the one side of it, but it's also keeping that attention and pushing it into the right places that is the difference, right?
Because if it is just about catching attention, then yeah, you could do quite, sort of, I don't know, shocking things or whatever and things that aren't relevant and things that are just kind of completely random and out of the box. But that's not going to keep them there and not going to take them to where you want to take them to. So, it's about relevant attention-grabbing stuff that moves them into the right places, yeah.
James (strategicabm) – I feel like we've just scratched the surface, but no, really appreciate you having me on. Hopefully it's been of some use and some value, but hopefully I'll be back on again. Hopefully I'll be back on.