Q&A with B2B Marketing’s Editor in Chief, Joel Harrison

Published 17/07/2023 / B2B SPOTLIGHT SERIES

What’s unique about The Global ABM Conference?

It’s the only significant account-based marketing (ABM) event globally.

ABM has been the big trend in B2B marketing for five years. More and more marketers are moving towards it, as they realise its power for capturing more sales. It’s a response to B2B decision-making units growing – and longer sales cycles. 

This event is designed to help marketing and sales professionals get up-to-speed with the latest thinking on ABM programmes. We want to bring them closer, and showcase practical examples of success. Our event is the best place to learn ‘what good looks like’, and get the lowdown from industry thought leaders and leading practitioners in this area.

What are the key statistics for The Global ABM Conference?

We’re expecting more than 500 client-side B2B marketers to attend, and over 450 senior B2B leaders. Not to mention, 300 leading B2B brands will be represented, from over 25 countries.

The event only lasts one day, but there’ll be over 25 dedicated ABM sessions, featuring more than 50 expert speakers. And we’ve broken the content down into 5 tracks, tailored to different functions.

Clearly, there’s a lot going on! But registering for the in-person event also gives you access to the content online, so there’s no problem if you don’t fit everything in on the day. You can also share the online content among your team.

What would you like the legacy of the event to be – the one thing that people look back on afterwards?

It’s simple: we want people to get better at ABM. And be better informed on successful activations.

Even though ABM is becoming ‘mainstream’, a lot of people are quite early in their journey with it. They’re still in that exploring stage. So, we want to answer the questions that they need to address with their stakeholders – particularly marketers who are trying to move sales into that place.  

ABM is still a kind of transformation project, which doesn’t necessarily deliver returns immediately. So, we’d like the event to help marketers accelerate their journey towards success and reengineer how marketing and sales work together. And for businesses to clearly see its benefits too.

Is the event aimed at marketers and sales professionals?

One of the reasons ABM was invented was because of the historical dysfunctionality between sales and marketing teams. You really can’t do ABM successfully without tight alignment between marketers and salespeople. We’d love for sales professionals to attend, alongside their marketers. And – to encourage that alignment – we’d even offer a discount to organisations who bring along both functions.

Why did B2B Marketing decide to add a dedicated ABM-focused event to its calendar?

Seven years ago, we only had a conference stream for ABM. But it was popular from the outset, and continued to remain popular – so much so, that it soon warranted its own event.

What some once saw as a fad has now become deeply immersed into what we do as B2B marketers. But ABM is still a recognisably distinct approach. There are things that you need to adapt to, to do it right. So, there’s a depth that needs exploring, which is why the event continues to grow in scope.

What do you expect to be the hot topics at this year’s event – the next evolutions of ABM?

How we use AI in ABM is going to be fascinating, and undoubtedly the headline theme. There are vendors who have already baked AI into their platforms, so they’ll have quite an advanced story to tell. Then there’s the intersection of AI with content creation and personalisation tools.

ABM can also be quite challenging. It requires a lot of stakeholders to be involved to get campaigns going. And creative people are tasked with the process of getting things from inception to execution. So, that’s an area that’s likely to be explored.    

What is the appeal of in-person events, now that so much information is available virtually?

When you attend an event in-person, there’s the ability to meet and network with new people. And some of those interactions – informal interactions between sessions – are so powerful, so valuable. Arguably, they’re even more powerful if you’re part of an on-stage session.  

With our upcoming event, if you buy a physical ticket, you can also watch the content online after the event. It makes the experience so much better. It means, if you miss something, you can circle back online later. This in-person and playback offering, helps to ensure attendees aren’t compromised on what they can attend.

Finally, who are the headline speakers at this year’s event? 

We’re still in the process of confirming our full speaker line-up. But our advisory board includes the likes of Andrea Clatworthy, Head of Marketing Transformation, Europe at Fujitsu; and Judy Wilks, Senior ABM & Executive Content Manager, Autodesk.

And, as a sneak peek at the kind of headliners you can expect, we’ve confirmed Ryan Almond, Global Vertical Marketing & ABX Director at Henkel; and Rhiannon Blackwell, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Leader, Global Marketing Organisation at PwC.

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