December 29, 2013

Account Based Marketing: Are you missing an opportunity?

Many marketing arms at enterprise B2B vendors are embracing all things digital, inbound, social and content based. That’s a good thing. Mostly.

There are, however, scenarios where they may be neglecting or abandoning approaches that make more sense based on resources, markets, buyers and talent.

Does much of your business come from a few companies?
Is it built on sustained business relationships?
Can you gain more from non-sales activities like support and training?

Often, vendors who answer “yes” to these questions are still dedicating more and more resources to (mass) digital marketing efforts at the expense of Account Based Marketing (ABM).

ABM involves targeting campaigns and tactics to focus on a small number of important accounts. The approach may be to target the very large accounts--they are almost an economy of their own! Or to focus on a particular segment that is profitable but not large (in the number of companies). Or in a particular phase of the customer life-cycle--maybe ABM makes sense in your post-sale phase.

ABM can also be a good way to enter any new market--even if you plan to have a more mass-market approach in the long run. In order to learn a market, train a new sales organization, and get some reference accounts, an ABM entry model can speed up learning and optimize your mass marketing. Many startups do this naturally.

Yeah, but what do we actually do?

Much of this is marketing 101. You just focus it on the key business issues facing one or a few targets and tailor campaigns and activities to address those issues. In my experience, the one big difference from the major trends in marketing is that there is more field marketing and in-person marketing--on site seminars, technology days, and training sessions.  You may find yourself breaking some rules too--if you are campaigning to one company, it may make sense to (gasp!) purchase lists.

One critical factor is that marketing needs to work really closely with sales. Which is a good thing! You need the sales input to create targeted content and design prospect specific offers.

Remember to keep it real--offer seminars and engagement offers (e.g.. free assessments) that provide prospect-specific value and get sales reps in the room with real decision makers. There is a great opportunity for c-level meetings between your execs and the prospects. (Frankly, that’s something you should be doing with your customers more often anyway!)

An additional benefit is that ABM may be a smarter way to market with limited resources. Mass marketing with inbound techniques is resource and content creation intensive and requires specific skill sets (like SEO, search, analytics). While you build these, how about directing your current resources at ABM.

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