ABM Gathers Key B-To-B Execs to Hash Out New Strategic Plan
ABM’s current strategic plan cycle wraps up this summer, and armed with their latest member survey results, which reeled in an 60 percent response rate, ABM principals and a dozen industry executives met in Greenwich, Connecticut for a two-day session to hammer out the association’s new strategic direction. Here’s a peek behind the curtain."It’s an agenda that allows member participation in the overall goals of the association," says Gordon Hughes, ABM president and CEO.
Each strategic plan runs on a 24-month cycle.An independent facilitator is hired for the strategic retreat and, according to Hughes, between 12 and 15 executives are selected from different silos — agriculture, healthcare and industrial, for example — to represent a membership cross-section. Membership survey results are sifted through and pressing issues are coaxed to the top. "Government affairs tends to be the number one issue," says Hughes, who adds that it’s not just about postal reform. "We covered the shield law for reporters, privacy and piracy and faxing and spamming." Membership services was also a big issue, particularly the future of ABM’s various committees — which last year had about 700 members across the various topics. "I suspect that we are going to revamp our councils and committees," says Hughes. "I can’t forecast how we’ll handle it, but we’re going to structurally reorganize the councils and committees." Marketing rounded out the top three issues, says Hughes. And Rex Hammock, president of custom publishing firm Hammock Publishing, who attended the meeting, had this to say via e-mail: "There is a great opportunity for ABM to serve as a platform for an ‘open-source’ approach to help member companies grow the total pie of marketing dollars spent on b-to-b marketing.
I am sensing that there is a ‘tipping point’ we’re reaching where certain trends that have recently been considered ‘threats’ (with competitors in the category, with search engines, with bloggers, etc.) are going to be seen as opportunities."Other participants at the meeting included Gary Fitzgerald, CEO of Meister Media Worldwide; Peggy Walker, president of Vance Publishing; Bob Carrigan, IDG Communications president; Jim Spanfeller, president and CEO of Forbes.com; Hugh Roome, ABM chairman and Scholastic International president; Mike Marchesano, president and CEO of VNU Business Media; Mitch Rouda, president Hanley Wood E-media; Jeff Lapin, president of Farm Progress Companies; James McGraw IV, group publisher at The McGraw Hill Companies; and William Morrow, EVP, operations, Crain Communications Inc.