History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. This is true when it comes to trends in music and fashion, and it’s true when it comes to sales & marketing strategies. Today we’re going to talk about a new (old) trend you’ve probably been hearing a lot about over the past while: Account Based Marketing (ABM).
Flip your funnel
With your traditional inbound funnel, the goal is to feed the largest volume of leads into the top of your funnel as possible. Depending on the quality of those leads, a big portion of them will likely leak out (AKA churn or get rejected by sales), and in the end you’re left with a much smaller subset of leads that actually convert into customers.
In the case of ABM, you actually flip your funnel on its head. Instead of starting with a huge pool of leads that shrinks down, you start with a smaller number of high quality targets that you want to go after. Once you’re successful in closing a customer, you focus on upsells and cross-sells to expand adoption across that account.
Think of it like fishing. With inbound, you cast as wide a net as possible, and see what you catch. Most of the time it’ll be tiny guppies that aren’t worth your time, but if you’re lucky, you might snag a few big fish. With ABM, you’re using spears and going after those majestic marlins. The key is figuring out where they are and using precision to make the catch.
Everything old is new again
Nothing is really new these days, and ABM is no exception. Account based marketing was big in the 90s, only then, it went by the name of ‘key account marketing’. While over the past decade marketers have shifted their focus to inbound strategies, sales has still been busy engaging prospects with good old fashion outbound tactics.
With the old outbound, it was about playing a game of high numbers to see who responds to your cold approaches. Often these would be in form of spammy emails with vague messaging that don’t focus on creating value for the customer. The problem with this is that we’ve become ruthless about filtering spam and disregarding unsolicited approaches
With ABM, instead of just spamming leads, your sales and marketing teams align on a list of target accounts. Once you’ve got the list of targets, you research as much as you can and use this intel to create ultra-personalized content specifically for them. Understanding that buying decisions are not made by single individuals, but by groups of people, it’s also important to identify the key decision makers within the account.
Getting started with ABM
I recently attended the Growth Marketing Conference, and was fortunate to hear a talk by Jon Miller, founder of Marketo and CEO of Engagio discussing the shift towards account-based marketing and sales. During his presentation he outlined a very accessible model for getting started: who, what, and where.
Check out the rest of his presentation here.
Once you’ve identified the “who” (accounts), you need to create the “what” (content). To make this successful, you need to apply all of the demand generation best practices from that you’ve come to rely on, which means making sure that your content is valuable, focused on the buyer’s needs, personalized, and most of all – human.
Once you’ve got your content outlined, you need to decide on the “where”, or the channels you’ll use for reaching your targets, and you’ll be shocked by how familiar these are. Channels for ABM can include direct mail (yes, actual letters and postcards), “human” email, phone, online ads, video and in-person events.
Making it work for you
Now, you might be thinking, “This all sounds great, but I can’t afford to break the bank on ABM solutions!”. It’s true. ABM platforms do cost a pretty penny, but don’t let this deter you from trying. Even if you’re a team on a budget, there’s lots of ways for you to hack an ABM strategy without laying out a fortune.
Nowadays there are plenty of affordable tools you can leverage to make AMB work for you. For example, when it comes to sending more human emails you can use outbound tools like Reply or Customer.io or supplement MailChimp with personalized data from Blitzen (*cough* shameless plug *cough*).
For prospecting, you can scour LinkedIn or get a web-scraping tool like Datanyze. It’s even possible to do direct mail at scale using services like Lob.com and Pebble Post, and you’ll be amazed by what’s possible with personalized video with platforms like Vidyard.
Account based sales and marketing will only become more and more prevalent, and even if you can’t fully commit to an ABM strategy, I challenge you to run a few ABM experiments using a few these of these tools. Even simple personalization can make a huge difference in your success metrics because it will stand out from the old spray and pray marketing campaigns, which are so 2013.