Technology and Partnerships for Growth

Technology and Partnerships for Growth

Technology and Partnerships for Growth, Bruce Cummings, CEO — Advantage Business Marketing

This week’s Thought Leader, Bruce Cummings, CEO of Advantage Business Marketing, talks about the shift in the way his company is utilizing new technologies and partnerships to provide better products and services to its audiences and clients. Bruce shared his thoughts about the following:

• ABM’s shift from being a media company to becoming a marketing company.
• The company’s vision is to become a case study.
• Matching audience interests with client services in near real time.
• The technology partnerships to serve customers better.
• Keeping employees dissatisfied with progress, but happy at the same

Mediagrowth: There is a lot of talk about digital transformation in B2B media companies today. How do you see this at Advantage Business Marketing?

Bruce Cummings: There is a lot of talk about digital transformation in our industry today. But when I joined ABM in April of last year, my goal was not to transform the company necessarily, rather it was to utilize the tools that exist in the marketplace to provide a better product and service to our customers. So, for me, it’s much more about understanding the landscape of the market and using the new tools available to know what people are interested in hearing about at the moment, and then providing them more information around content that relates to those interests, in near-real time. This is the way we help our clients to grow their businesses and the way we will continue to grow our company as well.

BC: Has this required significant restructuring of the company?

BC: We have made massive changes within the organization to support the growth we want to see. We have organized our 23 manufacturing sector brands under five pillars – Innovation, Discovery, Design, Manufacturing and Distribution – to give our clients unique insights into all facets of the manufacturing life cycle that moves a product from idea to distribution. These insights lead to marketing strategies right from the idea phase so the marketplace is well aware of a new product once it reaches the time for distribution. More than just media products, Advantage Business Marketing provides marketing services. We’re tapping into the massive amount of computing power out there, constantly identifying the best-in-class technologies to partner with. We have built an intelligent subscription-based platform called Mobius, that can interface with our clients’ CRM systems which enables us to monitor everything they touch – and everything the people around them touch — and give them constant feedback on content, sales and ultimately revenue. This allows us to continuously adapt clients’ marketing campaigns and provide a guaranteed return on their marketing spend. And we just launched our Advantage Business Network, ABN Now, that will provide original video content related to our five pillars. We are positioned as a marketing company to help our clients with all aspects of the process. It’s about making money for our clients.

But the plan for growth also meant simplifying. Our company vision is simply “to become a case study”. We’ve branded this as “Measure, Optimize, Succeed”. We document with words, metrics and video every change that we make to grow our company, and at every point we ask ourselves, “Are we doing the right things?” and “How do we optimize this process to increase our revenue and our clients’ revenue?” We have created a living document about our successes that we can show our customers. We tell them, “We did this for ourselves, we can do it for you too”.

MG: Can you tell us about one of your successes?

BC: Our Mobius platform brings together many, many vendors that can provide touchpoints back to the client on content. That means we are not only tracking information on our network subscribers, but also the subscribers on each one of our vendors’ networks. Our millions of contacts together with their tens of millions create a huge reach. In near real time we can push our audiences’ interests back to our clients so their salespeople can talk more specifically to their prospects’ interests. One of our long-time clients was our first test case which began in June of last year, and their campaign has been so successful – a 3x return on their marketing spend — that they have already doubled their buy for 2019. It’s not about budgets anymore when you can guarantee a two or three-time return on investment. Our salespeople are really excited to be able to give our customers what they’ve always wanted, which is true verification that their marketing spend will be of significant value.

MG: How do you choose the technology partners you work with?

BC: We have a staff of really intelligent IT people that looks at every available product and service out there. We rank and rate the best services and put together a scorecard on the best vendors with the best reach in terms of tracking information. For example, we are partnering with a company called Technium which has access to tens of thousands of patents and information on intellectual property. We provide this information under our Innovation Pillar for customers in the R&D stage of product development. We are also partnering with The Capital Factory, a large event company that provides business connections and resources to entrepreneurs. Together, we will put on our R&D Breakthrough Summit which will bring underutilized PhD students and their new product ideas together with companies looking for innovations.

MG: What challenges have you had to overcome during this shift?

BC: Change always comes with challenges. Change is a function of vision, action plans and dissatisfaction. You don’t get change without dissatisfaction. So, ironically, I have to try to keep everyone at Advantage Business Marketing dissatisfied and happy at the same time. We do this by making sure everyone is having fun because they know that they are part of something much bigger than they ever thought possible. So, we focus on our vision, stay on top of our action plan commitments and maintain a level of dissatisfaction while having fun by continually adapting and adding new tools and partners to our products and services. We’re going to do whatever it takes to help our clients grow their companies. And I mean whatever it takes.

MG: Thank you, Bruce!

Best of Success,
Kathi Simonsen