This week I became ABM Certified. Account-Based Marketing is a business-to-business (B2B) strategy that focuses sales and marketing resources on targeted accounts within a specific market instead of broad-reaching marketing campaigns that touch the total available market (TAM). While this practice has been around for several years, it has only gained steam in the last few years, with 93% of B2B companies saying that ABM is “extremely important to organizational success” according to SiriusDecisions: State of ABM 2017.
The certification workshop was hosted and led by DemandBase, and what was most surprising to me was not the issues around ABM, but the size of companies coming to get certified. Big companies. Companies I won’t name, but ones who are struggling with the very same issues that small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) are dealing with, and issues we help them resolve, including:
How to get the most out of marketing spend
How to reach the ideal prospect
How to track and measure ROI of campaigns
Which technology to use and when to trash the tech that’s not serving you
These are age-old problems to tackle, regardless of your company’s size. That was rather reassuring to me in some ways – that big, multi-million-dollar companies with large marketing departments and huge budgets are struggling with the same things SMBs are trying to solve.
More importantly, I was able to get a clearer understanding of the types or levels of ABM, which include:
This is a laser-focused approach on your 5 to 50 existing key accounts, to whom you customize your outreach. Think of it as a very personalized approach that focuses on engagement and building the relationship with your existing clients/customers. This approach can be used to engage your existing customers in other products or services you provide.
This approach challenges you to develop “clusters” of 5 to 15 accounts in groups that have similar issues (industries, segments, needs) and could include new (prospective) and existing accounts. It is also a customized approach with some personalization and is both engagement and lead-focused.
This focus is on the hundreds of prospective accounts that you’d like to market to. It’s still a very targeted list because it mirrors the overall goals and objectives you have for your company (who you want to do business with/your ideal customer) but casts a wider net. It is very lead-focused.
From my perspective and the SMBs we serve, I think we all have a gut feeling about how much more effective our outreach efforts are when we hone in on just the accounts we want to attract. The science of it is that, when put into practice, it outperforms traditional marketing strategies, not only in closing more accounts, but in retaining them and better aligning sales and marketing initiatives. Additionally, it aligns your overall strategy across the funnel, from identification through engagement and measurement. That’s something we all want – small, medium, and large companies alike.