Account Based Marketing involves creating highly personalized one-to-one campaigns to go after specific target accounts that you have identified as high potential leads for your business. In the past few years, ABM has been thrown around as the new fancy, shiny object in the B2B marketing world. I’m here to debunk a few of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to ABM.
Myth #1: ABM is for All B2B Marketing Teams
ABM is not necessarily the right strategy for everyone in B2B. ABM requires you to know your Ideal Customer Profile and your growth data exceptionally well. Not well as in one of those made-up buying personas where a brainstorm on the marketing team resulted in Marketing Mary, who lives in suburbia, drives an SUV, and is married with two kids aged ten and six. (I don’t care what she drives and the age of her kids unless it’s going to help me sell my software to Mary. And it isn’t.) In order to figure out if ABM makes sense for your business, you need to start in a completely different place.
You should start by taking a hard look inside your business, your data, and your customer base. Which customers are actually the ones driving company growth and the business forward? If all your customers are relatively small and the lifetime value is more or less the same for every customer, it sounds like you’re in the predictable revenue volume game. If that’s the case, ABM probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for your type of business.
If – on the other hand – you have relatively few, but large customers, and landing one customer can make a big impact in terms of growth and revenue, then ABM will probably make sense for you. As the resources spent on trying to land one specific target account can be relatively heavy, you need to be absolutely certain that the target account you’re going after is going to be worth it from a revenue and growth perspective.
So take a hard look at which customers are making a real impact on your revenue. If 20% of your customers are driving 80% of your revenue, and your LTV is high, then ABM is likely to make sense for you, and you can justify spending time and resources on crafting one-to-one personalized campaigns.
Myth #2: ABM is a Marketing Discipline
Again, very wrong. If you think you can run a successful ABM campaign just by involving your marketing team, you will fail. Getting buy-in from Sales and/or Customer Success is not actually good enough – you’ll need heavy involvement or rather part ownership from either one of those teams if you’re going to succeed. If you’re going after landing new accounts, then you better do everything hand-in-hand with your sales team. Ask Sales what kind of support they need from you. Do kick-offs, brainstorms, weekly meetings, or whatever works for you together. If you’re going after upselling or monetizing existing customers, listen to your customer success managers. They’ll know the pain points of the customer better than anyone else and be able to upsell naturally based on the customer’s needs.
In my opinion, calling it Account Based Marketing is wrong. It’s not a strategy that the marketing team can even come close to succeeding at without the support of other teams. We call it ABX, the X standing for the experience. (Not claiming this was our idea!). Using the term ABX is a way of signaling that this is a broad commercial strategy, scoping much broader than just marketing and that we work very closely with especially the Sales team, to bring it to life.
Myth #3: ABM is New and Complicated – And I Don’t Know How to Do It
No, no, and no! Almost all the tactics that we use as part of ABM are tactics that marketing, sales, and customer success have been using for years. As part of our ABM playbook, we create content, webinars, events, direct mail, phone calls, meetings, LinkedIn ads, SoMe, display advertisement – and we’ve even been considering outdoor. (As in big billboards close to a target accounts headquarter. How fun would that be?).
These are all tactics that we (and most B2B teams) have used for years, so the tactics that are part of an ABM strategy are far from new or fancy. If you’ve been in sales or marketing for a few years, I’m sure you already have hands-on experience with a few of these. So – you might be asking – why all the fuss about ABM? What makes it different from what we’ve been doing all along?
First of all, the fact that you’re applying the above-mentioned tactics on a one-to-one basis with one specific account in mind means that you’ll be tailoring the message 100% to the needs and pains of that account. But this will actually make it easier – right? If you’ve done your research well, you should know exactly what resonates with the account in question, and you can develop highly focused content, ads, or events.
Secondly, the processes around customizing an integrated and agile ABM campaign around one target account will be different from running your regular demandgen marketing campaigns. Note that integrated, agile, and process are the keywords here. Integrated because, throughout the entire life of a one-to-one campaign, you will work closely with other teams. Agile because you’ll always have to be adapting your campaign and messaging based on interactions and intent signals coming from the target account. If they started the journey at the top of the funnel, but you’ve managed to move them all the way down to the bottom of the funnel, you’ll have to look into what message and what types of content you’re now displaying. And this may happen in two weeks, two months, or two years depending on the lifecycle. You need to constantly monitor, adapt and be creative.
I hope you have gained a better understanding of whether or not ABM is a strategy that makes sense for your company and team to pursue. If one new account can make a real impact on your growth and if you are in a situation where you can work closely with and gain buy-in from other departments, then you should have a great foundation to kick off an ABM strategy. Because you probably already know how to execute most of the needed tactics that will fit into the ABM framework.