Understanding the differences
There has always been a certain learning curve to implementing account based marketing. We typically work closely with our clients implementing it as a result.
The journey takes one of two routes – either targeting a small group of known accounts or a much larger group of unknown ones. Either makes sense depending on your marketing goals.
The next step always seems to happen though: the way marketers think about their market. The increased insight that comes from delivering an ABM programme leads to insight across campaigns and an increased understanding of the different segments.
More specifically – marketers no longer feel like they are targeting an opaque segment (or one to few programme in ABM speak) with a short number of characteristics. Suddenly you know which companies are in each segment and are looking to nudge behaviour.
The next thing that happens, which can take some time and requires maturity with an ABM programme is that it starts to scale. You may have lots of segments, including a much larger one for your one to many ABM programme and is now driving the majority if not all of your pipeline. In some ways it represents a next generation demand generation strategy. One that gives visibility into all the accounts in play.
Running before you walk
Jumping to this setup too early though can be a real challenge as while it is easy to load up a huge list of accounts and throw advertising at them. How they move and evolve through the programme needs a level of insight and understanding that rarely comes from starting with a huge list of companies.
The most common pitfalls include:
- Not mapping out what to research when for your account list. – Spending time on researching accounts can be both expensive and go out of date quickly.
- Not having processes in place to handle accounts that stall after initially engaging.
- One of the biggest differences between traditional demand generation strategies and account based marketing is how long marketing stays involved. An account does not move in a straight predictable line from start to finish. Understanding where to place an account when that happens prevents the investment made up to that point being wasted and ensures there is a path to reactivating that account.
- Not knowing who to target – It is often easy to come up with the first list of accounts. But is it repeatable and timely to keep finding new accounts. Failure to have this in place can mean programmes stalling and failing.
Marketing is not only the Beginning, but the End
There is no doubt that ABM becomes more like demand generation as an ABM programme matures but it should never be mistaken for traditional demand generation. You still need sales and marketing alignment, the ability to scale your account identification and manage insight for each account. Without it, the ABM programme will fall flat.
To listen to our founder Riaz talk more about account based marketing and demand generation, he spoke with Dave Stephens of the Business Marketing Club on his podcast recently. Check it out on BMC, Spotify and Apple.