Account-Based Marketing: The New Frontier
MarTech pioneers are championing a relatively new marketing strategy called account-based marketing (ABM). It’s everything that traditional demand generation is not.
Demand generation focuses on the offer made to individuals. In demand gen, the marketing team’s efforts are aimed at stimulating awareness in their company’s products with the objective of generating sales.
Account-based marketing focuses on the account and their unique needs. Herein lies the major difference.
In ABM, sales and marketing work together in a coordinated effort to build targeted, personalized campaigns for an organization (not a person) across multiple channels. The goal is to create and deepen awareness of your company’s products through a series on ongoing, personalized marketing touches in ways that strengthen the relationship.
Right away you see a change in approach. It requires gathering intelligence about people within an organization and shaping your account plan accordingly. And account plans must be nimble and easily adjusted, based on changes in the company, the industry, and specific behaviors of the people in your sights.
With ABM, there’s opportunity to make an impression on multiple people within an organization, using various marketing “touches,” both digital and tactile. Rather than sales concentrating their outbound efforts on certain corporate roles, departments, or titles, it works closely with marketing to develop an alignment of personalized marketing touches for multiple people in the account. You approach the entire account as your prospect.
This type of marketing means ongoing field research, like tracking the company’s announcements as well as industry news. It means using networks such as LinkedIn for searches and employee insights, and involving everyone in sales, marketing and other departments in your company to learn if there are business or even personal relationships with people at a target account.
In traditional demand generation, sales would identify the people to target, then marketing would create the campaigns to get leads and queries. Craig Rosenberg, AKA the “funnelholic” and champion of ABM, writes that, with ABM, “sales and marketing work together to create an always-on series of touches and relationship building aimed at these accounts.”
A Deliberate Approach
The key in these marketing touches is relevance. Account-based marketing is not random, like one of those “bleacher reacher” launchers that shoots T-shirts into a sports or concert venue. Rather, it is deliberate and strategic, activating inbound and outbound marketing touches only when particular behaviors have been mapped to individuals in a target account. Each campaign is tailored, and each marketing touch is relevant to the individual.
Direct mail is part of a successful ABM campaign. While unsolicited emails are often tagged as spam (indeed, the CAN-SPAM Act gives recipients the right to have a business stop sending them emails and outlines penalties for doing so), direct mail is a powerful tool for reaching people who might need your product.
Another ABM advocate is ITSMA, a member community that helps B2B marketers. In a post by Rosenberg, he cites an ITSMA study of executive decision makers, showing that 75% reported they’d read unsolicited marketing materials it they contained ideas that were relevant to their business. More telling is the fact that 92% of those executives added that they’d read the materials even if they came from a company with whom they’d never done business.
Relevance makes the difference in ABM. Fortunately, there are MarTech tools to help you create and send relevant and personalized direct mail from within your marketing portal. Rosenberg suggests this channel is especially effective for executives – who tend not to download white papers, register for webinars, follow companies on Twitter or respond to unsolicited emails.
With this in mind, you’d send different materials to C-level employees than you’d send to marketing managers or IT staff at a target account.
This is only possible if you use MarTech tools that let you automate the creation and mailing of materials based on predetermined behaviors. If you can imagine it, you can send it, right through your marketing portal.
Account-based marketing includes the sending of personalized and relevant direct mail. It’s just one of those many ‘always on’ touches that Rosenberg writes about. It’s not arbitrary and never slapdash. Like everything in an ABM campaign, it is deliberate. It upholds the idea that smart marketing is holistic, with a focus on the whole organization, not a single person – but the execution of marketing touches must be personalized.