Declan Mulkeen (strategicabm) - Today I'm joined by Andrea Clatworthy, Global Head of Account-based Marketing at Fujitsu. Andrea, lovely to have you here today.
Andrea Clatworthy (Fujitsu) - Hello, thank you so much for having me.
Declan (strategicabm) - So let's just start. We're going to talk today for 20 minutes / 30 minutes about ABM. So, can you give us a brief overview of the program and what that looks like?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Absolutely, that's a great question and I often get asked this actually. I don't call it a program, it's part of how we operate. And I first introduced it back in 2014, so quite a long time ago, in the UK business, and One-to-one ABM. And we've slowly scaled that. Not in terms of numbers of accounts - actually, we've gone down in terms of number of accounts, different story - but across geography, so from the UK, across Europe, Middle East and Africa. And then, although I didn't do this bit, I think it was inspired by me a little bit, we rolled it out into North America and now we're in Oceania too. So not a program, it's part of our strategy, it's how we operate and it's part of our marketing toolkit. It's part of how we go to market.
Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah. Now I can imagine you've obviously - 2014, that's about six years or so. Now, I can imagine it hasn't been all plain sailing over the course of the last six years. What kind of challenges have you faced during that time?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - When I first rolled it out, I rolled it out using the whole of the UK marketing organization, 58 people at that time. And every single person had an account, that's 58 accounts on a One-to-one program. That's bonkers. Why would you do that? So you know, that was the wrong thing to do. So we rolled that right back, which is why we don't have so many accounts in it now. So I think the big mistake was not thinking through account selections. So I think that actually, that's a key part of your ABM strategy. How do you select accounts? Because if you get that wrong, everything else doesn't work. So that's really, really important. And part of that process is educating not just your marketing people, you know, training and upskilling marketing people, but also salespeople. So I missed a trick there, I should have done that. So anyone who's thinking about rolling out ABM now, don't forget one of your key stakeholders are your Sales and Account managers.
Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah, absolutely. And just touching on that a little bit, 'cause you mentioned there, you obviously had a large set of accounts that you've obviously now whittled down and are more focused. Now obviously the ABM strategy there at Fujitsu is primarily focused on or has been on One-to-one and One-to-few. Have you considered an 'at scale' model of One-to-many?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Yeah, so we do One-to-one and some cluster. And increasingly moving towards the One-to-many approach. Now the reason we haven't done lots of One-to-many is, really, to do that properly, and at scale, you need the right MarTech in place.
Declan (strategicabm) - Yeah.
Andrea (Fujitsu) - And although we're an IT company, you would assume that we've got all the bells and whistles and shiny new things in MarTech. In fact, we don't. And for the first two or three years easily, we did all of our ABM just using spreadsheets and PowerPoints. And now we're in it, we've got MarTech in place now, which means that we can start that change in approach really from a spray and pray marketing, I call it - sorry colleagues. But to that more customer-focused, insight-driven, intent-driven activity that you need for effective One-to-many ABM. Because if you don't take that insight approach, then One-to-many ABM is not ABM, it's just marketing.
Declan (strategicabm) - It's basically Demand Gen or something similar, right? And, with regards to obviously your strategy there, creativity and personalization are usually important in an ABM strategy, right? Can you talk us through a little bit about how you create these amazing experiences for your target accounts?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Yeah, that's such a good question. Well, it's because I've got awesome 'ABMers'. Now, there's not a process that we go through, although, yeah we encourage design-led thinking and things like that. And we've got a whole bunch of people that can help us with that because we've got awesome people. And they're the ones who will work with the account teams and will work with each other and there's lots of sharing that happens across the community. And if somebody's stuck, “damn okay I've got this problem. I really want to get to these people” or whatever it might be. We have a bit of a brainstorm, you know. Bring the creative juices to get them really flowing. So it's down to the people really, rather than a structured way of thinking or a process. And some of those people, of course, are not just our people, but our agency ecosystem. We don't have an ABM agency. We've got multiple agencies that we'll use at different points in the process of ABM.
Declan (strategicabm) - And actually linked to that Andrea, you mentioned people there. Can you talk us through, you know, your ABM team there at Fujitsu in terms of size, roles, responsibility - what does it look like, this award-winning team?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - It's continually evolving, which is always a good thing. So as we speak today, at the end of 2020, I run a very small global Center of Excellence, that's two and a half people, including me. And that's it in the center. All the rest of the 'ABMers' (people doing ABM) are in the regions. So they are working as part of our field marketing teams in countries, in regions, and that's where our salespeople are. So that's why our 'ABMers' are there, because Sales and Marketing need to work really closely together for ABM to work. Remember, it's mostly One-to-one that I'm talking about. So Sales are there, our customers are there, so they are at the front, they're at the coalface. And in different regions, the setup is ever so slightly different. In some regions, there are people that only do ABM and DBM (Deal-based Marketing). Same techniques but we separate them in terms of how we describe them. So sometimes that's all they do, and they'll have a number of accounts or deals that they're working on. And others will do multiple things. So perhaps they are the marketeer for a sector, in which case their ABM account will be in their sector. Or perhaps they're the marketeer for a whole country if it's a smaller country, and they'll do ABM as part of their role. So the model varies just a little bit. But they're all in what I call the ‘ABM community’. So we get together regularly and we share and help each other. And it's really that community spirit, rather than a functional or very rigid organization that I think brings out the best in people and brings the best in our ABM approach really, so that's why we do some great work I think.
Declan (strategicabm) - I'm guessing you can learn a lot out in regions that you then bring back into the center and then push back out again?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Totally. And actually, it's not just in and out, it's around. You know, it really is a community. I'm not a ‘command and control’ style person and I haven't set up that kind of operation. So it really is the community helping each other. And quite often I'll be facilitating that and actually I want to be in it, I want to know "What's going on?" "What's this awesome thing you've got going on over here?" And I know I've been able to still get involved and help. And that's part of how I like to work.
Declan (strategicabm) - And looking forward now, we're now in December when this is being recorded, 2021 is just around the corner. What does 2021 look like for the ABM strategy at Fujitsu?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Yeah, so I'm calling it ABM everywhere. So in addition to having awesome 'ABMers' out here in the field, increasingly, our headquarters and central teams are wanting to adopt the ABM approach. So when they're designing a campaign, or an initiative or a program, or whatever it is, increasingly colleagues are having ABM thinking as part of how they're designing that. And that's helping us move to the cluster and One-to-many approach because everyone's thinking that way. So next year we'll be doing loads more of that, I can see us doing some ABM at scale. And also, what’s really interesting I think is deploying - not sure if that's the right word - ABM into markets, we haven't done that before. So Japan being a good example. We're headquartered in Japan. Our market position in Japan is completely different to the rest of the world. Therefore, the style of marketing that we do is completely different. But I think there's opportunity here to roll out ABM consistently across Japan and Asia, so I'm really looking forward to doing that. I think it's unexplored territory and I think it could make a real difference. So it's going to be really exciting. I don't speak Japanese so there's going to be a challenge there. So lots of colleagues in Japan, although they have some English they don't speak great English. So, not sure how I'm going to fix that problem yet, other than learning Japanese, but we'll see.
Declan (strategicabm) - I'm sure you will, I'm sure you will. ABM, obviously it's one of the hottest topics right now in B2B marketing. And obviously we've seen some research from people like Terminus that have talked about the adoption rates of ABM being at a record high. Why do you think it's such a hot topic right now?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - I think it's because it works. Research from customers says, ‘be relevant to me. Show me how you can help me, don't market features and benefits’. So ABM is all about, you know, using the language of the customer, aligning to their needs, etc. Therefore, it gives the right results, positive results. So whatever that list is for you, from the three 'Rs', Relationships, Reputation, or of course Revenue - it works. And I think that's why it's rising to prominence. I also think it's fuelled slightly by MarTech being more available and agencies like yourselves who are adopting it as a specialism that you're there to help customers with.
Declan (strategicabm) - What are you seeing in terms of the ABM program that you're seeing out there and the strategy that you're seeing deployed by other companies? What's your general impression of what you're seeing? 'Cause you've been involved for so long and obviously with the successful program and strategy, rather, that you're running, but what are you seeing out there?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - There's some really good stuff. And it makes me very proud to be part of a B2B marketing profession and to be part of the movement if you like towards ABM. I'm continually impressed by the program that people are willing to share. You can't see everything right, because some of it’s slightly competitive advantage I would say. But, I've been fortunate enough to see quite a few things, I've been judging on B2B awards and stuff. So I've seen some really great work, some really creative thinking. And also what I've seen, which is just lovely, where you can see initiative, that you could see how it might have worked at a more generic level when it's been taken by the ABM community and turned into something that also works in an ABM way of thinking, I think that's really good. So that's a real clear signal that is becoming what I'm calling 'ABM Everywhere', in lots of instances. Which also means there's some great 'ABMers' out there. So when I first started doing this, the skills weren't there, but now there are, there's loads of them. They're fabulous. I want them to all come and work for me.
Declan (strategicabm) - Just touching on that actually, what would you say are the kind of three or four major skills that are required to be an 'ABMer'?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Yeah, I often get asked this. So top thing - it's not a skill, I think it's a way of thinking and behaviors - is enthusiasm. You've got to really want to do it, because it can be quite hard work and quite draining. You see 'ABMers' get burnt out reasonably regularly. So you’ve got to think very carefully about that. So enthusiasm. Being curious. Because you’ve really got to understand your customer. So you need to be a bit nosy and a bit curious. And adjoint to that is being able to put an analytical head on so that you're understanding what's going on when a customer then turns that back into a play that you're thinking of making. I think, some of the best 'ABMers' that I've seen have previously had a general marketing role or multiple experiences of different parts of the marketing mix. And the reason that's really important is, when you're designing and executing your ABM strategy and plan for a specific customer, understanding the whole of the marketing toolkit available to you, both in terms of what to use, when and how to do it, is really important. Of course, we all work in teams, but having that knowledge of the art of the possible in your head is a really good thing. Having said that, I've seen some awesome 'ABMers' that have popped up from nowhere. Brilliant. So I think it comes back to that really wanting to do it piece. And that yeah, that applies for any job really, doesn't it?
Declan (strategicabm) - I think so, yeah. I think I definitely concur there. A couple of questions actually about where we are today. Obviously, this has been an extraordinary year on so many levels, which is, you know, just about to end now. What's perhaps one of the things that surprised you most about your marketing this year?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - I think the thing that surprised me most was as a profession, we very quickly moved to digital stuff. Lots of online, etc, in various ways, shapes and forms, which I think was great. And we've embraced that because we had to, right? And as creatures, we're adaptable, which is terrific. And then recognizing with our empathy head on, that fatigue was setting in, there was some really innovative thinking that came through with how to make this format engaging and enjoyable. So I think that was really good. And I think from a customer side, what I've seen - this is brilliant, for Fujitsu, some of our primary customers are the IT function because we provide IT stuff. And for some of our customers, because the whole world moved to digital, the IT organization in any company was suddenly really important. Because you have to provide the infrastructure, working from home, or for customer engagement or whatever it may be. So we've seen some of our customers, some of our key stakeholders rise in prominence - good for them. And we're really proud to have helped them to deliver what their company needed, and therefore help them, as individuals, add value to their organization through us adding value to them. So it’s been terrific from that point of view. Of course, we've got some new advocates as part of that because we're able to deliver what they needed.
Declan (strategicabm) - And perhaps when normality returns next year, hopefully. Let's say when, okay -
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Okay.
Declan (strategicabm) - Let's be optimistic. When / if normality returns, is there anything that perhaps you can now look at and say, "You know what, I would have always spent money on this" "I would always dedicated time to this." "But you know what, going forward, from what I've learned this year, I'm going to do a lot less of or, in fact, I'm actually not going to do that going forward in terms of my marketing”?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Oh crikey, that's a really good question. I think trade show stuff. Having said that, I've got some great examples of where we've used a trade show to target one or two customers, and we've done it really effectively. But that's been our objective, rather than a general market awareness piece or whatever. So I think we'd look very carefully at that physical experience stuff. Having said that, on the flip side, that experiential thing, that's something that creates an emotion, I think it’s going to increasingly be top of agenda. And that's not necessarily a specific tactic but that's one of the outcomes that you want to create from something. I think, you know, we're all bombarded - and this hasn't changed really - we're all bombarded by multiple messages. I just think that now we're mostly - well, not everybody - but mostly in one place, and we're not getting on a train, we're not getting on a plane. So we're not giving ourselves space to consume information in different formats, or it's mostly at your desk kind of thing. So whatever you do needs to stand out and it needs to have some sort of emotional impact, I think.
Declan (strategicabm) - Now, I definitely agree with you there, Andrea. And finally, one last question. Advice for those people starting an ABM program, thinking about starting an ABM program, in their first year, etc. What advice would you give them in terms of how to get ahead, how to avoid any kind of mistakes, how to get over those hurdles?
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Yeah, I think my number one piece of advice is to select your accounts really carefully, regardless of the type of ABM that you're going to do. But that account selection piece is absolutely imperative. If you're going to do One-to-one ABM, then when you select that account, think about also the account team that you'll be working with. So the salespeople, account managers, or whatever you call them, need the right chemistry, they need to want ABM to help them grow their customer. So find an internal sponsor, an advocate, somebody who really wants it, and that will make the internal adoption much easier.
The next big, top tip if you like, I mentioned it earlier. If you're rolling out ABM in a One-to-one style, don't start with 58 accounts. Start with a small manageable number. And if you're rolling out a cluster, or One-to-many, the same account selection process, absolutely imperative that they think really carefully about the insight that you're going to gather and how you're going to turn that into action. Because that's the piece that gives you what's going on in the world of your customer. If you don't do that piece, then you're not doing ABM and everything else is just going to not really give you the return that you were hoping for.
I guess my final piece is back to the enthusiasm thing - stick with it. Not necessarily a quick win, ABM. Some of the accounts that we've been working on is a three-year program and it's reaping dividends now, but it didn't in the first quarter because that's not the approach. This is a marathon, not a sprint. So stick with it.
Declan (strategicabm) - Great advice, Andrea. Absolutely fantastic to talk to you today, an absolute delight to learn more about yourself and Fujitsu and the ABM strategy that you're rolling out there and have been for many, many years, and keep it up and keep sharing all those great stories with us. And we'll keep following your journey.
Andrea (Fujitsu) - Thank you so much.
Declan (strategicabm) - Thank you very much.
Andrea (Fujitsu) - And thank you for having me, it's been lovely.
Declan (strategicabm) - Thank you.