ABM – Always Be Marketing: What Does It Mean To You?

 In Business Building Strategies, Personal Branding, Professional Networking, Relationship Management, Relationship Marketing, Reputation Management, Social Media, Social Networking, Twitter

image At the recent 140 Twitter Conference, I sparked a bit of controversy on the branding panel that I participated on: I brought up a point that reminds me of the line in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross “ABC, always be closing” and I framed it as “ABM = always be marketing” and “always be me.”

I was fascinated to see the polarized responses from the audience, Twitterverse and one of my fellow panelists. (I’m a big fan of expressing opinions, but it’s not my style to polarize! Oh well!)

To me, Always Be Marketing means that I am extremely mindful and strategic about everything I do online and in public. For example, turquoise and bling is my signature branding color/look/feel – so that’s what I present in public. (Eight percent of my wardrobe is a shade of blue!) And, my persona is upbeat, open, caring, genuine and always helpful, always willing to answer questions particularly about Facebook. This is all part of my brand.

In fact, the greatest compliment I receive is when people meet me in person and say I’m exactly like they thought I would be from how I am online.

imageWith social media so prevalent we are all EXTREMELY visible. Your prospective clients, your peers and your competition can drill as deep as they wish searching, reading and gathering information online about you and posted by you without you ever knowing who’s searching. Depending on what they find, your prospects may choose to do business with you or not.

Being mindful and in “ABM” mode helps with reputation management. To me, ABM means you’re never careless about what you put out there. You see the longevity of everything that’s published. (For the best book on reputation management see, Radically Transparent by Andy Beal and Judy Strauss).

To some folks, the word “marketing” has negative connotations. It’s a word often misinterpreted as meaning “hocking your wares,” “pushing” and being like a used car salesman. That’s unfortunate. There’s a big difference between ABP: always be pushing and ABM: always be marketing!

I unfollow the “ABP” types on Twitter and unfriend or even block them on Facebook. I’m all about connecting and building relationships… and yes, there’s strategy to all that too. What may seem as idle chit-chat on Twitter is 100% visible to the whole world on Twitter. It’s important to always do your best, because you just never know who is watching you.

Perhaps some folks have negative feelings associated with the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross – it’s an intense movie and the question of ethics and integrity in sales is a theme running throughout the film. I certainly would never recommend doing “whatever it takes” to market. It has to be genuine, positive and contribute to your community. Like I say, the ABM also means “always be me” (or, for me, “always be Mari!”

In fact, here’s a couple of my fave nuggets from the #140tc:



What are your thoughts? What does ABM mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be in “marketing mode” at all times – or is it something you turn on and off? Do you apply a special formula to your tweeting style with x% personal and x% business? Is there a clear line between the two, or are you like me and completely blend your social media personal/professional style because you know ultimately people are buying YOU first?! 😉 I’d love to hear from you – add your thoughts in the comments below:

Mari Smith

Forbes Top Social Media Power Influencer | Facebook Marketing Expert | Globe-trotting Speaker, Author | 'Mari like Ferrari' | Bubbly Scottish-Canadian!

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  • Mari, you’re right on. As you know I was there and witnessed the mixed reaction. I think your critics a) didn’t let you finish your explanation and b) didn’t want to acknowledge that everything we do in “public” as business owners reflects on how people think of us and whether or not they’ll choose to do business with us. Marketing is not a bad word and it’s essential if one wants to have a thriving, successful business and today that means being mindful of everything you say and do online and off.

    Along with being the Pied Piper of Facebook, you’re the Pied Piper of Positivity (can’t remember who coined that for you!) and your genuine, caring, respectful Mari-ness comes through loud and clear with this post.

  • Hi Mari,

    Glad you’re bringing this out. I couldn’t agree with you more — “people are buying you first.” We should always feel comfortable to be ourselves(“Always Be Me”)because who we are is enough. However, as business people, we should also be aware that people are always looking to us as an example of leadership, so we must “Always Be Marketing” as well. People buy from those they know, like and trust.

    Coincidentally, I’ve just been published in an anthology in which I’m featured “The Power of Leadership in Business Networking” by Daniel and Debbra Sweet. The chapter I contributed is titled “Others’ Perception Precedes You” and it is exactly on this topic. Other chapters in the book are also very informative regarding the ins and outs of business networking.

    Beverly Bergman

  • I agree that it’s so important to strive to always present our best online … thanks for the great reminder!

    To your continued success,
    Christine Elisabeth von Malsen Hueber
    Your Exclusive Social Networking Strategist & Business Management/QuickBooks Solutions Expert
    ChristineEHueber @Gmail.com *please do connect with me here!*
    +1 530.582.8091

  • Jim Zaccaria

    You BEing ‘Genuine’ and ‘Authentic’ is one of the things I like Best about you Mari. When we met IRL @ #jval you were the Same person I had come to ‘get a feel for/of’ both online and in trainings I had heard you present. Of course – meeting you IRL was The Best, because I was able to better ‘Experience’ Your Wonderful and Radiant GoodEnergy. I’ve Never felt as if you were trying to ‘Sell’ me something. People Have to ‘Get’ that there’s NO difference today between their Business and Personal lives. We must strive to BE our Best in ALL ways, always. And That’s My Desert View n Review of your Gr8 article.
    Warmest regards,
    Jim Z in AZ

  • Jennifer Haubein

    Hi Mari,

    I don’t why Marketing is such a dirty word! I love marketing, but you’re right a lot of people especially on the social media scene think we shouldn’t be marketing our businesses. There’s a big difference between marketing and spamming!

    For me social media is a big “dance” between business and personal. I talk about my business and my personal life, but it all ultimately is marketing.

    Like Ali Brown says “You’re in the business of marketing.” And if not then you probably won’t have a business for long.

    So exciting to see all that you’re up to since we met in Texas. And keep on marketing 🙂

    Jennifer Haubein

  • Jennifer Kettlewell


    Thank you so much for posting this. Yes, it is amazing the variety of views on this very subject!

    During any social media training that I do, I let all my students know that it doesn’t matter if you friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn you will find ME…100% genuine me.

    Yet, I am always conscious of my message and my presentation. It is imperative to make sure that people can recognize you on all those different platforms, as well as on the street. 🙂

    Your branding is what I call on my site ‘brandelicious’ and it is essential to create that awareness across different platforms.

    Once again, thank you for sharing, I always enjoy what you have to say!

  • Great info and i so totally agree that ABM (always be me) is the most vital success ingredient and ABM (always be marketing) comes alongside that too. Marketing has a bad name because there are so many push push people out there, who do this, primarily I believe, through fear and insecurity in themselves and their services or products.

    being true to yourself, even if that means you face adversity from others who do not like to listen to genuine, caring people and are more concerned with making money, rather than contributing to others through their bsuinesses, is so so important and vital.

    A business is founded by one person and often peopel forget to include their personality in the business, which is such a shame, as a business without personality is just another bland business in the midst of many others.

    heres to many more people who ABM always.
    Carol Dodsley

  • Mari,

    I completely understand your point about ABM, and I agree. It’s simply another way of reminding people to always put their best foot forward.

    If what you do is congruent with who you are, the ABM policy will feel very natural and serve you well. It’s when you step out of the place of congruence that it becomes difficult.

    Janice Campbell

    Lucky Freelancer Coach
    National Association of Independent Writers and Editors

    Let’s connect on Facebook!

  • Stephanie Treasure

    I agree with you 100% Mari. You have to always be marketing, but be mindful of adding value and not just marketing – rather, pushing your wares. I read someone’s blog, don’t remember whose, that said, ‘Do you know what people will find when they Google you?’. People don’t always enter your space through the ‘front door’ so you want to make sure that your integrity shines through at every point of entry. And the best way is to always be marketing – in the genuine sense that is!

  • Justin Burrows

    Mari Hi

    Just discovered your blog and so far I love it!

    I remember well my father teaching me ‘Always Be Closing’ when I first started in sales, the world is a very different place today, and your modification of ‘Always Be Mindful/Marketing/Me’ is in my opinion right on the button!

    It’s something I hadn’t full considered until reading this post, but from now on I will be much more mindful of how I market ME!

    Thanks a lot.

  • Jane Howitt

    Mari! I can’t believe that what you said – perfectly sensible to me – caused such a mixed reaction! What *were* people thinking of?

    Of course people buy from people. And that’s not just a new Social Media idea, is it? So if they buy from people, show them a person. A REAL person. Market the Real Me.

    (I suppose that if your Real Me isn’t too appealing something needs a bit of tweaking… But that’s another story!)

    And Denise is so right – it’s crucial to be mindful of everything you say and do online and off.

    ABM is darned good advice!

  • Megan Bucher

    I admire your ability to have a personal realationship with everyone. I originally got hooked on Twitter because I was amazed at what I could learn from everyone posting information there. After looking for college courses to take on what was currently going on in Social Media, I found that Twitterverse would be more hands on and informative. I started to follow all kinds of bloggers and companies to soak up all the knowledge I could. Knowing I’m constantly at risk of being one of those that just ‘take take take’ information and never share, it challenges me to go out an apply what I have learned so that I CAN share my own valuable experiences. I don’t have a personal relationship with everyone on Twitter, but I wish I did. I love Facebook for that, and do have a personal relationship with everyone there. I’m starting to merge the two, slowly. I choose to stay at home with my daughter and really give her the spotlight in my day…which limits the amount of time I spend in social media land every day. On another note, I recently had someone tell me to ‘hurry up’ and organize my thoughts, so that I could cash in on them while I have the opportunity. While I understand and value that type of comment as flattery, I don’t want to be part of anyting that is a flash in the pan. There are a lot of angry bloggers out there throwing critism around for all the self-touted gurus in our field. I say, so what? Let there be gurus! Of all kinds. You don’t have to be a keynote speaker to be a guru. All that kind of talk does is push those trying to surface back to the bottom…wondering if they will ever be ready to enter the game. I say be ready always, on your terms. Everyone doesn’t have to follow your tweets for you to be successful. Aim to be personal with everyone you are in contact with, as you do, and it’ll be a rewarding experience.

  • Michael Blanchard

    Though I can see how it could be misinterpreted as being false or overly sales-y, I think you have the right idea with ABM. The fact is every interaction we have defines how others perceive us. So, whether you are conscious of it or not, you establish your brand every time anyone sees, hears, or otherwise encounters you. Make it count.

  • Mari, your message is clear, articulate, and heartspoken. The model that you and Denise Wakeman and many others provide is a full-circle return to honesty, transparency, and integrity. Let’s all try to return the word “marketing” to its full and best image. Being ourselves is the one thing in life we can absolutely do better than anyone else ;-), but it takes diligence and — as you stated so well — intentional thought.

    Thank you for BEING YOU and insisting that we also need to be our best selves…at all times! ABM!

  • Hi Mari:

    I love the ABM – Always be marketing and Always be me. I love your style and transparency. And decided that I would approach my time on FB and twitter by being me and doing what brings me joy – sharing great tips and answering questions from my heart. The response has been great! I am still challenged by how to monetize what I am doing. But I am at least creating a reputation as someone who gives with compassion – which is my MO outside of social media. Now the next step is to blend the message with a strategy that gets my valuable materials into people’s hands and lives. Thanks for all of the wonderful info you provide. Some warm Scottish Hugs to you from a fellow Scot. Marilyn

  • IMHO, there are a number of social media “sacred cows” that have yet to be fully understood. Your stance on “ABM” reminds me of the backlash against paid blogging — it was totally reflexive and people took a hard stand before taking the time to listen to the details.

    To me, ABM means having a system in place. My mind can go a million miles an hour and it can be confusing if you ask me a question and I give you the first answer that comes to mind. Far better for me to take a minute, make sure I understand what you are saying, and then respond. Social media is no different – rather than tweet some random link, why not take a couple of extra seconds to properly address the other person’s question or concern. A “pause that refreshes” may make all the difference.

  • Jen Butson

    To me, ABM means being yourself. I’m a huge believer in marketing yourself, just the way you are. And therefore by being you, you are always marketing. Be your very best and don’t be afraid of awesomeness.

  • Hi Mari,
    I like your idea about the pen – sure beats just having a box of them at a trade show.

    For those unfamiliar with the origin of ABM, see ABC – Always Be Closing:

    OK – so now a little shameless promotion. Here is a time-lapse film I shot of wind turbines being built in Boston Harbor. It’s called SEVEN DAYS IN FOUR MINUTES

    Because of that video, I got two jobs shooting wind turbine construction for two other wind farms. One is on Wachusett mountain in Princeton, MA and a larger project on Brodie mountain on the Mass/NY border.

    Jay Groccia
    Principal Photographer, OnSite Studios.

  • Joe Riggs

    Hey Mari, Joe Riggs here, DefyTheMind on twitter. I love the way you inspire and write, you make marketing a word I once again anchor in a positive light. Well done and Bravo.

  • I agree with you about ABM — it’s all about personal branding, and I think you’ve shown that “always be pushing” is NOT an effective branding technique! I’m amazed at your creativity and ideas. You got me to click on your Twitter page, pen page, leave a comment and Tweet you, all for a pen! I must be a fan!

  • if I start off with “always be me” I can’t go far wrong 🙂

  • I agree with your thoughts on this topic 100% Mari, and it appears many others do as well. Many thanks for voicing your opinions in forums that matter. Many people would be silenced with criticism, bravo to you for standing up for your beliefs !


  • There is such a differnce between ABM and ABP. ABPs send the auto-dms with links to more about them. ABPs ask for your card at a conference and automatically add you to their email list.

    I’ve been trimming ABPs out of my Twitter feed as well. Appreciate you pointing out the distinction!

  • Writers seem to be particularly concerned about the idea of marketing themselves. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that the ones who market tend to sell. The ones who don’t market tend to complain because they aren’t selling. 🙁

  • To me ABM could mean alor of things. But for me personally it means Always Be Motivated ?

    Activate Business Mindset=there goes another one

    See you online,


  • Lynn Czarnecki

    Hi Mari,

    I really like your distinction and think you have made a valid point. I had never really thought about considering “a color” part of your personal brand wardrobe, but being out in the public eye has an impact. And being able to continually establish a visual identity as well as a positive and upbeat persona can only help in personal branding as well as marketing the products and services you support.

    Thank you for your thoughts!

  • I loved this article, It caused me to think about my marketing face when I may not be marketing, and I need to get that face in the game.

    You are so right when we do marketing it does not stop at 5pm when we close shop it goes on all day and night when we are at the store, we never know who we may meet who will get to know us as a person and then one day need whatever product we maybe offering during our working hours. So we want to present a face that will cause people to remember us not only as a friend but also when they are in need of a service or product.

  • Mari:

    The delightful Scottish Queen of Positivity, it is awesome that it created some controversy. We all KNOW you do not position yourself as polarizing no explanation needed. (Benefit to always be marketing-your tribe knows WHO you ARE)

    We always want to be wiling to look at the hard things and if an example gives us moment to reflect and ask ourselves the hard questions then it was a GOOD MOMENT.

    Keep on sparkling!

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