As a marketing area of concern, ABM is in its infancy. ITSMA first coined the phrase ABM, or account-based marketing, in 2004. ABM didn’t gain significant traction until 2013 when the global search first appeared on Google Trends.
Like many marketing strategies, ABM evolved because technology evolved. New marketing technologies gave sales and marketing teams intelligence to better identify high-value potential buyers while automating and tracking their engagement.
The explosion of digital channels meant sellers could now reach prospective buyers through many new and different methods of communication. Plus, sellers could test multiple marketing assets and incentives to drive engagement and desired actions.
But at the same time, across the table, buyers became more interested in engaging only with sellers who more thoroughly understood their needs from the start.
One-size-fits-all mass marketing was no longer going to cut it, especially in B2B verticals.
Over the next few years, ABM expanded and evolved. Best practices began to emerge.
Today, most B2B companies have an ABM program in place.
IS ABM really that big of a deal?
YES. Because it works on many levels. Compelling study after study concludes that the ROI on ABM initiatives outperforms other marketing investments. Sales spends less time chasing uninterested leads. Deals are bigger. Win rates are higher. It aligns Marketing and Sales teams—an incredible feat on its own.
What’s making ABM work?
As technology has evolved, people (prospects) began demanding more personalization and customization in their products and services. The Burger King “Have it Your Way” campaign of the mid-1970s is now a part of our daily life. Think about it. No two iPhones are alike. Starbucks crafts every beverage to the exact specifications of the buyer. Life coaches, personal trainers, and smart home gadgets like thermostats and lighting all offer customized experiences to fit our perceived specific needs. The concept of “mass customization,” as predicted at the start of the century, has arrived.
In business, stakeholders interested in investing in a solution need to know that it will specifically fix their problems. They want someone with expertise in their field so that the implementation is seamless. They want to choose someone who knows how the solution applies to their specific business and needs. They may not be ready to buy today, but those who stay top of mind and relevant are most likely going to be in the mix when it’s time to commit.
ABM gets you on the radar.
As you probably know, getting the attention of a c-level is tough. But ABM is changing that: 75% of executives say they’ve read unsolicited marketing materials because it touched on their company’s specific needs.
ABM addresses 3 key factors
By its nature, ABM addresses three primary factors prospects answer when considering a new vendor:
- Do they know and understand my industry
- Do they know and understand my unique business issues
- Do they have fresh ideas to advance my business
In short, people choose to work with those they know, like, and trust.
Studies on the number of touchpoints it takes to convert a prospect vary wildly. Several years ago, the consensus was 7-8. Today, it’s not uncommon to need 20+ touchpoints. Maintaining that number of touches for a group of prospects is daunting for any sales organization. ABM manages the heavy lifting to keep the engagement flowing.
How can ABM scale if everything is personalized?
The pyramid approach is the magical secret sauce of ABM. Every successful ABM program implements three levels of targets. At the top of the pyramid, the elite few are the perfect targets. A perfect fit, even if they don’t know it yet. These accounts need the most personalized engagement and investment of time and energy.
The mid-section of the ABM pyramid represents the “one to few.” Every company selected these differently. Consider them the runners-up to the elite few. The key is they must have something in common, such as being in the same business niche. Think about this grouping from their perspective. Could you imagine all of them attending the same conference or webinar? Then you’re on the right track. Getting this grouping right matters because this is how you scale. Can you “classify” this group? Can you find interesting news, data, stories to share with them that are specifically relevant to this group (and not others)? If the answer is no, you haven’t yet found your group.
When you do, you’re ready to create your third group. It’s the broadest, but the rules from group two still apply. The most straightforward approach may be to broaden group two, but we’ve also worked with clients where these two groups were unrelated. For instance, group 2 could be resellers or salespeople who recommend your product or service, while group 3 is a specific business vertical.
Version one is better than version none
By its nature, ABM is a work-in-progress. Like a science experiment. You won’t have a perfect launch, but you will gain insights as you move along. Thus, the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start learning what does and doesn’t work.
So start today.
To learn more about building and managing your ABM program, visit abm.xpromos.com