Account Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming a mantra in marketing – but what does it mean and why does your company need it? To understand these questions, it is necessary to learn the origins of this market strategy and the circumstances that gave rise to it.
The Origins Of ABM
ITSMA, one of the earliest B2B companies from the mid-90s helped pioneer ABM as we know it today. Through the vision of Dick Munn and marketing leaders from companies like IBM & HP, the concept of marketing services became a reality. ITSMA built their reputation and client base through consistent innovation and expertise. The ITSMA commitment to research led to a marketing strategy breakthrough in 2003/04. What was once known as ‘Account Marketing’ is now known as ‘Account Based Marketing.’ When it comes to belief in ABM’s efficacy, ITSMA thought leaders have this to say:
“Account-Based Marketing delivers the highest return on investment of any strategic B2B marketing approach. Period.”
Mere words, you might say?, ITSMA have volumes of data to back their claim like this statistic:
‘Eighty-seven percent of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments.’ (ITSMA)
Here’s another statistic, this time from SiriusDecisions:
‘92% of B2B marketers worldwide consider ABM “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts.’ (SiriusDecisions)
What Is ABM?
Key advocates of ABM explain that traditional marketers cast the net wide. The following quote from InsightSquared’s Marketing VP, Joe Chernov sums up ABM’s benefits with a brilliant analogy:
“ABM aspires to be ‘zero-waste’ marketing. It’s a model that targets only the companies and contacts that are likely to buy your product and that sales has pre-committed to try to close.”
For decades, marketers held to the philosophy ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’, perhaps that was true two decades ago, now you must focus on ‘the needs of the few’ if you want to make a sustainable profit. Here’s where ABM comes in.
- Rather than pushing a uniform sales message via email blasts or passive web copy, find the accounts most likely to resonate with your product.
- Look for key decision makers within those accounts,
- learn and empathise with their difficulties and find solutions.
- Use keyword research, referrals and your own competencies to build funnels that represent your client’s needs.
- Keep in mind that trust breeds loyalty and be genuine, so don’t hold your knowledge back in the hope of upselling clients.
- Aim to become a trusted advisor, not a salesperson.
Another important aspect of ABM is sales and marketing alignment. Have someone from your marketing team present during your client consultations. By doing this, your marketing team will know what your client requires, where they are in the buying journey and what content is best suited to them. Ensure that sales and marketing are in continuous collaboration and every team member knows what content is the best fit for your clients current requirements.
ABM will make your sales funnels profitable and eliminate the lost leads problem.
Does the following scenario sound familiar?
You’ve developed a new app, software or platform that will revolutionise the industry. Your product is ready to go to market. Somewhere along the way, you’ve hit a wall, the market is oversaturated, new start-ups are cluttering up your selling space each day and customers are becoming cynical. Your marketing team’s blogs and white papers vie for space with content from established industry leaders and new competitors. This is where ABM comes in, don’t fight for space, cut out the noise, invest your time and energy on qualified leads by identifying the most likely buyers from existing customers.
Use social listening techniques to target new leads, get to know their problems and engage them with comments, tailored messages and content that places them on the awareness stage of the funnel.
Follow up by striking a conversation, find other ways to help and support, build trust and loyalty that compels your customer to choose you without feeling coerced into doing so.
This is what ABM did for SAP
SAP is the third largest independent software manufacturer in the world. SAP has a vast customer base, yet it was able to reap $27 Million dollars in profit through ABM.
They realised the majority of their revenue was generated by 10% of their user accounts and began to build an account based structure based on insights gained from key customers, undergoing a radical transformation from the one size fits all marketing method to a personalised one. As SAP Marketing VP, Eric Martin observes:
“If you don’t maintain exclusivity then what could very well happen is that you water down the program and, instead of it being a one-to-one marketing program, it winds up looking more like a one-to-few marketing program,” (Source: Marketing Sherpa, 2015)
The industry leaders have spoken, ABM is the B2B marketing strategy that will skyrocket your ROI if implemented correctly. In future articles, we will delve deeper into ABM, the different types of ABM and how to implement it.
Wherever you are on this topic “Account Based marketing “ at this particular moment, it might be the right time to reach out and book a free consultation with an appropriate consultancy (such as 2MARK-IT!) to discuss your needs.
About the Author: Peter Rovers is CEO of 2MARK-IT a global Social Selling & marketing, consultancy, enablement and training firm.