Account Based Marketing (ABM): A Hyper-Focused Approach Of ‘Fishing With A Spear’!!

  • By Andy Fox

Some like to call it ‘zero waste’ marketing, some define it as ‘fishing with spears’rather than casting wide nets, and many are now increasingly being assured that Account Based Marketing (ABM) is key to building ‘laser-focused’ relationships with your key customer accounts in today’s B2B market space!

And the stats seem quite promising too – Today almost 85% of marketers are stating that Account Based Marketing (ABM) is delivering serious ROIs than any other B2B marketing approaches.

Now, we’re all aware of how the traditional internet marketing tactics (since 2000) which are based on appealing to, and attracting as many companies as possible within the target market - in other words ‘casting wide nets' with marketing campaigns, to attract more traffic to the sites with the motive to capture and convert as many leads as possible.

But as it was getting difficult to stand out in the highly competitive content marketing crowd, where 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day – the concept of attracting as many fish into the net and hoping to have a few keepers, took a flip turn…

ITSMA (The Information Technology Services Marketing Association) pioneered the concept of Account-Based Marketing for B2B market in 2004 – An approach which focused on taking the marketers/sellers directly to the buyers, rather than waiting for inbound efforts to bring the right people to them via nurturing through a wide sales funnel.

The idea is – Instead of capturing a target company which appeals as a ‘good fit’ to  sell your products to (after sieving all the bad ‘leads’), you identify and start with the target companies right from the beginning and put in a laser-focused effort in nurturing those ones. That’s where the metaphor, ‘Fishing with spears, rather than wide nets’ come in. You use all your tactics and energy to aim that one fish with your spear and haul it into your boat.

As per Wikipedia, ABM is “a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organisation considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.” 

Or as ITSMA likes to put it simply, “ABM is about treating individual accounts as markets in their own right.”

Let us now explore some of the fundamental features that define an Account Based Marketing (ABM) approach:

1.  The ‘Funnel Flip’ - ABM Vs. Inbound Marketing

As stated earlier, Inbound is all about attracting a wide array of prospects and carefully nurturing them down the funnel to capture the most qualified leads (or in B2B case – the target companies) to engage further.  ABM on the other hand, zooms right into the ‘target companies’ and then starts to building relationships with personalised campaigns.

This gives us an image of a ‘flipped’ funnel as below:

This however, doesn’t in any way inform that any of the marketing approach is superior to the other. Actually the Inbound approach can also feed into the ABM Funnel – when any inbound lead lands up as a ‘target’ account, ABM can pick up the prospects right where inbound leaves off.

ABM however, focuses on accounts, not industries and niches. While Inbound looks for leads, ABM is focused on the quality of ‘Target’ accounts. So, using the fish metaphor again, once you’ve trapped a hoard of fish in your inbound net, you can always go for your ABM ‘spear’ to pick out the fish that give you the best value.

2.  Strong Sales and Marketing Alignment

One distinct characteristic of ABM approach is that there is a strong alignment with the sales and marketing team from the very beginning.

Unlike traditional approaches, where marketers create contents (campaigns, blogs, emails, CTAs, etc.) to capture the preferred user personas and prospects, and Sales only chime in to cater to the qualified leads – With ABM, sales and marketing, both are focused on the target accounts from the start and work towards achieving a common goal – to convert that particular account.

Both the teams (sales & marketing) share a common strategy, speak the same language, and work as a singular entity, as opposed to working in silos.

Forrester Research has indicated that aligned organisations achieve an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies report an average 7% decline in revenue.

A strong alignment also means less friction amongst the teams with regards to ‘lead quantity’ and ‘lead quality’ – This collaboration drastically increases the effectiveness to obtain a common, highly-focused and defined, account-specific targets.

3.  Engaging All Key Decision Makers

Gartner research shows that in a typical firm with 100 to 150 employees, an average of seven people is involved in buying decisions. When this number of people increases, the likelihood of purchase also declines.  

Contrary to previous methods, which looked at that one person (say CMOs) across many companies, ABM looks into engaging and answering the needs of all the separate influencers at a single company.

The approach incredibly increases the chances of conversions as you’re pitching the relevant information to each individual ‘influencers’ at the company – the message then is ‘highly targeted’, speaks to all of them with a consistent, positive voice and helps to invoke everyone to jump on board with your ideas.

The conversions are highly likely because rather that showering with blanket campaigns to accommodate the entire industry; ABM uses ‘laser-focused’, personalised messages and campaigns to orchestrate a pre-defined strategy to win over the targeted accounts.

To Sum It Up…

ABM is all about isolating the decision makers in your ‘target companies’ and engaging them with highly personalised content. It thrives on the idea that - one meaningful conversation with the decision maker or the ‘gate keeper’ is way more valuable than hundred unqualified prospects!

If you'd like further assistance or would like to discuss anything covered today, we'd love to hear from you.

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Andy Fox - Author

I have a firm belief there is only one great challenge in life… And that is… To be the best version of you possible. I have lived my whole life to this tune. I love that I am not perfect and I love that every day I get up and make at least one change in my life that makes it better, one change that takes me closer to my life’s goals.

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