Account-based marketing (ABM) is an effective business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy with a host of benefits as cited in AdRoll’s RollWorks blog post “17 ABM statistics that will make you rethink your 2018/2019 strategy.” As ABM popularity has accelerated, marketers and service providers who are inexperienced with it will begin to take baby-steps towards ABM achievements but many will default to demand generation campaigns and deploy look-alike targeting instead of strategic ABM.
Marketing leaders who develop a long-term vision are uniquely positioned to make true ABM progress within their organizations because they frame the right business opportunities and cultivate a collaborative approach. If you are just beginning, have taken some initial steps and failed, or even if you have already enjoyed some degree of success with ABM, you can follow these three key steps to lead your organization to a higher degree of ABM maturity.
- Evaluate your organization’s ABM maturity
- Invite relevant colleagues to share your vision
- Take small steps and make quick wins
1) Evaluate your organization’s ABM maturity.
In a recent article, Anamika Gupta, director, head of account-based marketing at Fujitsu North America, defined ABM in this way:
“Account-based marketing is a long-term strategic approach that requires marketing and sales to work as partners to achieve one common goal: Open doors and deepen engagements at high-growth accounts.”
However, not all marketers have such clarity. As the world’s leading full-service, B2B agency, gyro has worked with a wide range of organizations making attempts at ABM programs. Some are gaining momentum with ABM, whereas a few are left fighting inertia. For example, a specialized software company with a single flagship product has managed to put its accounts into value tiers and prioritized large, named accounts exhibiting a degree of coordinated maturity across teams, but the company has limited experience creating the actual campaigns. Yet one of the largest software companies in the world with multiple product plays targets named accounts at scale but is focused on a strategy that resembles CRM retargeting, or lead generation. Their key performance indicators are the number of net-new leads in existing accounts, despite still struggling with personalized messages, optimization and making the most of prioritized tiers of accounts or regional differences.
ITSMA’s ABM maturity model is an industry-standard benchmark for testing the level of maturity.
The model charts five maturity levels against six critical areas of change.
B2B Marketing shares its model of a maturity index in a similar fashion. By using these tools together with a sales partner or executive leader, you can see where you fall on the index.
The maturity factors that give organizations strength and flexibility to change and grow lie with people and process.
2) Invite relevant colleagues to share your vision.
The second step in achieving ABM maturity is to educate and motivate the key players with whom you’ll need to build alignment. ABM has been referred to as alignment-based marketing. Key players should be from marketing, sales, and executive sponsors willing to invest in resources and tools. Create an executive-level, cross-disciplinary team dedicated to success, meaning senior leadership should allocate proper budget and support to ABM.
Another technique to kick off this engagement with other departments is a lunch-and-learn session or workshop. At gyro, we can deliver a customized ABM lunch-and-learn event or ABM acceleration workshop to create a fun, collegial atmosphere to soften the silos and forge bonds with other groups.
3) Take small steps and make quick wins.
To grow, progress toward mature ABM should be planned. Start with one or two accounts and gain quick wins to build confidence. As leaders achieve results and small wins, they build trust with colleagues and set the stage to reapply successes in more areas of the business and/or scale up. Be sure to discuss short-term/long-term quantitative and qualitative goals so that success can be recognized.
Take advantage of the efficiencies, effectiveness, and return on marketing investment of ABM by applying these insights to move your organization another step closer. Even if you haven’t taken on true ABM campaigns in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t do so now to build a successful future.
Cristina Olivera Heise, VP Strategy & Buyer Experience, gyro