Did anyone else feel like Marketo created account-based marketing (ABM) out of thin air this year at the Marketing Nation Summit? Even Mike Telem, Marketo’s VP of Product Marketing and co-founder of Insightera—which later became Marketo’s Real-Time Personalization—indicated account-based marketing sounded new.
The buzz around ABM over the course of the four-day event was intense: Marketo’s new product was featured during the keynote, there were half a dozen sessions dedicated to the topic and another four or five that touched on its relevance to other initiatives.
So what’s the big deal? Why now?
What is account-based marketing?
The phrase, “Account-Based Marketing” has been around for a little over a decade. If you think about it, sales people have been selling this way forever. Marketing has a tendency to cast a wide net and scoop up as many qualified leads as they possibly can – heck, in days-gone-by we didn’t even care if they were qualified. Just get ‘em in the boat and we’ll figure it out later! Sales, on the other hand, prospects by wading into a pool of targeted accounts and picking out the leads most likely to have buying power.
Imagine that for every sale your company makes there are six contacts in the account that get involved – every time. Chances are they hold a range of buying power among them, but are the same or similar titles over and over.
- Maybe three are influential, researchers, but not decision-makers.
- Two are champions – their input is invaluable and whatever they really want is probably what will be selected.
- And it’s likely one person is your “decision maker” – they’re going to write the check, but they mostly don’t have time for your marketing.
ABM is about treating them as a group – a buying committee.
Provide them a persona type within the group and message them appropriately. They all need the right message at the right time. And they have different views into the decision-making process:
Providing the right message at the right time helps everyone understand the behavior of one group member, signaling the buying stage of the entire account. With the advent of marketing automation (like Marketo), this has gotten a little easier – segmenting by persona, automation nurture campaigns to align with the buyer’s journey, etc.
What’s the big deal about Marketo’s unveiling?
Marketo’s new product claims to be the next step. Going beyond talking to the right person at the right time – this is about tracking all of your leads in a targeted account and pinpointing which titles make up your buying committee; all the while – you’re monitoring and reacting to their behavior as a group with automated campaigns. Pretty neat actually.
This platform will also offer a single place for Marketing and Sales departments to align. Rather than provide sales insights, a view for sales personnel to see what your marketing is up to, or CRM (Customer Relationship Management), where Marketing accesses a Sales’ tool – this is one tool for both teams to manage their most desirable accounts.
So … should I stop and do ABM instead?
If you’re a gorilla in your space, and your sales are typically in the seven-figures, you’re probably already doing something like this – and potentially only this. On the other hand lead nurture may still create a better ROI for smaller sales, online purchases and shorter sales cycles.
For most of us in the business-to-business space, ReadyTalk included, we’re selling to multiple tiers and multiple company employees. Where I think ABM makes the most sense is when your company plans to target a specific set of large enterprise accounts that provide a high return.
So while you probably shouldn’t shut down your other marketing initiatives, if your company sells large enterprise deals or has an abnormally long sales cycle, the investment of time and money into ABM may just be worth your while.