Back in the 1990s, London creative agency megastars, Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) had a reputation for refusing to take part in creative pitches. Instead they focused on research and strategic planning to refine the brief, allowing the agency to create more focused work. Founder John Hegarty was relaxed about this: “Those who don’t want what we offer won’t come to us,” he said.
Fast forward to 2017, and many of the gurus who advise on growth strategies for hungry businesses will almost always now tell us that the key to a successfully growth strategy is knowing when to say no – and doing just that. I’d further distil that to the goal of being able to choose who your clients are.
This came up for me this week when talking to a consultancy company whose problem is not: “where do I find my next client,” but rather: “How do I say no to my existing clients wanting more and more from my business when I won’t be able deliver everything else I need to deliver on time if I say yes to this?”
Now, this is a fantastic problem to have in some ways, but can be a tough one to handle. But perhaps the most challenging aspect is about planning for future growth. This company, after all, remains highly ambitious. But this client has very low brand recognition currently beyond its existing customers. “We predominantly sell to people we know well.”
A new marketing programme today, then, sounds unattractive to them if they’re struggling to meet demand today. But that lack of promotion could stymie growth in the future, once capacity has been increased to meet current and predicted future demand. So what to do? Either option has significant drawbacks.
Fortunately, there is a third way – thanks to the strategy of Account Based Marketing (ABM).
With ABM, rather than being trapped in an ‘all or nothing’ approach to promotion, this company can select which clients it wants to have on its future client list, and create a highly targeted marketing playbook to make that happen… but without the leakage into mass promotion that traditional ‘waterfall’ B2B marketing approaches would have caused.
ABM puts this company in control of the throttle of its future business, able to scale up or scale back quickly and efficiently, while keeping their growth plans bang on strategy for the company.
In this case we’d draw up a prioritised list of candidate clients, based on strategic fit and attractiveness. From there we’d identify timelines for when we’d be able to handle the arrival of new work and design a communication plan to optimise our marketing efforts against.
Sometimes, getting the sales velocity right is a critical part of the marketing mix.