Like many in the B2B marketing community, it’s fair to say that I was surprised to see the recent news that ITSMA had been acquired by ABM agency MomentumABM (https://www.itsma.com/account-based-marketing-pioneers-join-forces-momentum-itsma/). In fact, I think you can definitely file it under the heading ‘I didn’t see that one coming’! It’s not for me to speculate on the commercial rationale behind such a deal; I’m sure that the respective management teams at both organizations have a clear vision for how to drive value for the newly combined entity. We’ve certainly had a great relationship with Dave Munn and his team over the years so we wish them well on their new journey.
What is more intriguing to me though is that ITSMA’s sale now leaves a vacuum for an independent, vendor and agency agnostic organization to play the role of champion for the development of B2B Marketing. Over the years, many have looked to ITSMA to play this role, but now that they are no longer independent, who will step up to claim their place? I’m sure, right now, there are sharper minds than mine already thinking about the opportunity and plotting either the re-positioning of an existing entity or the creation of a new entity to become the new industry cheerleader/advocate/enabler. I’d wholeheartedly welcome such a development; I think we need such a body to help corral the B2B marketing community. To champion best practice. To share thinking. And to raise the profile of the things we do. And if there is anyone out there considering how to replace ITSMA’s position in the market, I’d humbly suggest they need to consider five things, if they are to be successful.
First, they have to be truly independent, acting in the interest of the B2B marketing community, as opposed to the needs of investors or shareholders. The integrity of any organization seeking to support the development of B2B Marketing is dependent on this being the case. This doesn’t mean that any organization must be a not for profit (commercial success is allowed!) but it must be able to advise, coach and celebrate B2B marketing’s development from an entirely neutral perspective, otherwise it is simply not credible.
Second, any organization that wants to assume an industry advocate role must deliver true value to the B2B marketing community. This means providing access to thought leaders who can advocate and educate, and who the community can look to and learn from. I’m thinking of the likes of Bev Burgess here from when she was at ITSMA and did so much to further the development of ABM, as the benchmark for adding value.
Third, any new organization must be prepared to embrace and encourage a disparate and diverse set of voices from across the global B2B marketing community. As we see from our global offices at Agent3, innovation happens anywhere and any overt focus on just the US or the UK is missing a trick. So, a global perspective is critical.
Fourth, any new organization must look to evangelize the B2B marketing community by stepping up and staging events and Awards. These are essential activities for bringing people together to celebrate innovation and success, as well as opportunities to share best practices and to learn from each other. And we also enjoy them!
Lastly, a personal plea; any new organization needs to be easy to work and partner with! Business is hard enough as it is but it is made SO much easier by working with teams that display high integrity, strong professional values and also a sense of fun (when appropriate).
To conclude, I passionately believe the B2B marketing industry needs an organization or entity that can act as an independent cheerleader and, as ITSMA exits stage left, it’s going to be fascinating to see who steps in to fill the void. We’ll be watching on with interest and excitement, accordingly!