When trends emerge in marketing, it seems like everybody wants to climb aboard the bandwagon. Typically, a few practitioners excel, while many find out that there is a steep learning curve to new tools and techniques.
So it is with Account-Based Marketing (ABM); view it as the holy grail and you’re likely to fall short of your objectives; treat it like another tool in your kit and it will help you succeed.
At SimplyDIRECT we have been practicing ABM since our inception, since before it was trendy, so you’ll have to forgive us if we get a bit sentimental on the topic. After more than 18 years of successfully practicing ABM, I think we know what we’re talking about!
The goals of ABM range from prospecting for new customers, upselling existing customers, and acquiring customers. It’s important to note that B2B decision-making is a group sport, as enterprise purchase decisions are rarely made by an individual. ABM operates under this premise, involving the following activities:
- Working hand-in-hand with sales to identify and profile a specific set of target companies in-depth
- Developing tailored plans to uncover the influencers within the corporate walls, and
- Radiating out from there to reach decision-makers on their own turf
Account-based marketing is becoming to B2B companies what one-to-one marketing is to B2C enterprises, and it is challenging industrial marketers with the same steep learning curve.
So who is using this approach, and with what success? A survey of more than 500 B2B marketers by Demand Metric, on behalf of the Account Based Marketing Consortium, revealed a wide range in sophistication level among adopters of account-based marketing (ABM):
- About 18% of marketing practitioners boast of ABM bringing them revenue increases as high as 25%
- 32% blame the practice for either a negative impact or an uncertain impact on their top lines; these are the folks we’d place at the outset of the learning curve
- The remaining practitioners suspect that ABM has a favorable effect, but they’re unable to measure and therefore prove it.
The first group is likely comprised of the practitioners who are broadcasting the benefits of ABM. However, these individuals could also be pigeon-holing themselves into one approach. For an ABM program to be successful, it’s important not to abandon other types of lead generation initiatives that have proven successful. Doing so runs the risk of hampering the pipeline and preventing the identification of new targets, so these programs should continue in parallel to an ABM program.
The best advice I can offer for those adopting an ABM approach is to remember the human element involved in marketing. While it’s useful to have a robust list of target companies, marketers must go beyond this to compile key data about individuals, who are the actual decision makers. With ABM and a keen market research agency by their sides, marketers can leverage this critical component of an ABM strategy in order to make it work most effectively for them.