Guest post by Sam Melnick, VP of Marketing at Allocadia

I was recently discussing 2018 priorities with a Marketing Operations leader at an enterprise organization.

They said, “ABM capabilities are taking priority over our measurement and budgeting needs. Let’s talk later.”

It is great to see Account Based Marketing (ABM) taking priority across the marketing industry. More of us should be having the conversation about how marketing can best support sales and in turn help the organization create a productive and positive experience for buyers.

Here at Allocadia we’re believers in the promise of ABM – we’ve organized around tiered levels of accounts, partnered with sales both on high-reach demand generation tactics and more targeted campaigns like direct mail and field workshops, and have invested into data and process around ABM with Engagio. ABM is poised to help B2B marketers deliver on their promise to help sales drive revenue and create more accountability within the departments.

But I was struck by the order in which this company was tackling their priorities. It begs the question:

Which should come first, Account Based Marketing or Marketing Performance Management?

To answer that question, I’ll ask a few of my own:

  • How will you communicate marketing’s goals around ABM?
  • How will you figure out what resources to allocate to ABM?
  • How will you determine what to CUT in order to create budget for ABM?
  • How have you structured your marketing and sales data to measure what your investment in ABM will drive for you? (Including people, data AND technology)
  • At the next board meeting how will you show what your investment in ABM has produced?

In short, when making decisions about ABM, how will you:

  1. Ensure your ABM plans align to the marketing organization’s goals
  2. Track what resources you have invested (both people and budget)
  3. Measure the results (not just outcomes, but ROI)?

This is where Marketing Performance Management (MPM) comes in. While Account Based Marketing is a potentially impactful way to go-to-market, MPM spans the entire marketing organization from planning to measurement, ensuring more successful execution of any tactic, including ABM.

What’s more, MPM is not opt in — a marketing team’s contributions to the organization are always on trial.

While ABM is one possible way to increase marketing’s contributions, MPM – planning, budgeting, measuring – is an ongoing strategy that if ignored, threatens the entire marketing organization with a lack of visibility, lack of control, and lack of clarity on what the marketing organization has to accomplish (with or without ABM.)

The Question of Technology: MPM vs ABM

What’s tricky about both these categories is they are overarching strategies organizations take – but of course each of them is supported by technology.

When I approach marketing technology, I am a big believer in focusing on foundational technologies first – including CRM and MAP. When considering where to invest your martech budget, think of MPM as the third critical foundational technology.

This creates data and process around sales results (CRM), marketing engagement (MAP), and marketing plans and investments (MPM) — giving you the ability to execute against your goals, measure actual ROI, and determine what is working so you can invest more there. You wouldn’t build a house without laying a solid foundation just as you shouldn’t build a marketing technology stack without this triad.

High-performing organizations have these foundational elements across the entire marketing organization – including data, technology, process – working to support each other.

Our Marketing Performance Management research found that organizations who expect budget and revenue increases have a much stronger approach to their overall MarTech stack and strategy. Those who consistently integrate technology across their entire marketing organization are 5X as likely to see 25%+ revenue growth than those with flat or negative growth.

Behind the stacks

Microsoft’s marketing tech stack (shared with Scott Brinker at is a perfect example of this. As you can see in the image below, their MPM technology (Allocadia) is listed as a system of record — basically a “keep the lights on” designation. ABM is listed within the “innovation” section, which are technologies that are deployed on an ad hoc basis to test new business requirements – important, but not foundational.     

[Note: Microsoft recently took home a RunMarketing Award for their ability to measure and optimize their marketing spend. See more about Microsoft’s winning marketing operations strategy.]

Sharing an approach to stacks

At Allocadia, we eat our own dog food (or, as Engagio’s Jon Miller likes to say, “drink our own champagne”) and rely on our own technology as one of three foundational technologies.

Marketo is our marketing engagement system and Salesforce our CRM. You can see our tech stack below, including Engagio.

As I said recently in MarTech Today, “We see the world of martech in two categories. A tool either helps you run marketing (plan, invest and measure results) or do marketing (attract, acquire and retain customers).

With thousands of potential tools available, it’s easy for marketers to focus too much on the execution side — the “do side” — of their stack. Technology today like account-based marketing, predictive analytics, ad tech and more are focused on execution.

What marketers can’t forget is to equally support what’s going on behind the scenes to allow them to ‘run marketing’ with operational technologies. Too many companies rely on spreadsheets and borrowed systems for this critical function.”

Run marketing and do marketing.

In summary, when thinking about your marketing team’s priorities, ABM can be an amazing strategy to partner with sales and improve your go-to-market. We’re big fans and proof of its potential. But, it’s one of many ways to execute marketing, or “do marketing”.

First, organizations must be able to “run marketing,” and plan, measure, and invest each dollar with total confidence. These foundational capabilities are empowered by MPM’s foundational technology.

As Neenu Sharma, VP of Product and Marketing Operation sat GE Digital says “Our job is to run marketing, so the rest of the team can do marketing.

For more on GE Digital’s strategy, watch our Marketing Planning Master Class with this RunMarketing Award winner: Accountability & Ownership Make the Difference.