ABM – It’s just smart marketing, right?
Alex Wares, MD of newly-launched ABM agency Transmission, reasons why account-based marketing should just be considered 'smart marketing'
Account-based marketing (or ABM) has become a something of a buzzword of late. Marketers love a buzzword almost as much as we love an acronym, and it doesn’t take long before a bandwagon forms and people jump on it. In my view, however, ABM will, over time (if it’s not already), just be how we do smart marketing.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
People define marketing in different ways. I'm a great believer in simplicity and so a definition that someone explained to me many years ago has stuck. That definition is that ‘marketing is putting the right offer in front of the right person at the right time’. I accept this is overly simplistic, but providing you agree, it’s not miles out, so let's work with this definition for now.
Firstly, let’s look at what's actually involved in ABM. At the start of the journey is account selection, identifying what companies you're targeting using data, technology and desk research. Once an account list has been agreed, establish the structure of the decision-making units and the personas (or people) involved. It's important to understand their needs, painpoints and the value propositions that will resonate with them.
Audit your content and assets
The next stage is to develop an overarching campaign theme that everything will sit within. You can then audit the content and assets that exist in the context of your campaign and the target personas. And where new content assets are required, these can easily be built out.
The final stage (prior to going to market) is to develop a robust activation plan in line with the habits of the personas you're targeting. In the modern media landscape, B2B marketers can be highly targeted in finding the right audiences, whether they be small and finite, or much larger in scale. At the appropriate time, press the button and roll out the campaign to the market, obsessively monitoring analytics and performance to tweak and refine where necessary.
The right message at the right time
So, let’s break down my original definition in the context of ABM. By developing a campaign theme, creating engaging content and messaging for each stage of the buying journey, you're putting the right offer in place. All the research that goes into mapping out the decision-making unit and understanding of personas means you can be confident of knowing who the right people are. And finally, by the smart use of media aligned to persona habits (as well as painpoints), ABMers will know they can reach them with the right message at the right time.
I acknowledge my thesis only holds up if we accept the admittedly simplistic definition I started with, but I'm a great believer that in simplicity often lies truth. Reverting to my original proposition then, if you have a finite target market, why would you engage in spray and pray tactics? Surely by applying the principles of ABM to B2B marketing in general, you can minimise waste and provide the right people with the right offer at the right time.
ABM is the most exciting and the fast-growing flavour of B2B marketing, with early adopters showing phenomenal success and redrawing the map of sales and marketing relationships. But amid a barrage of hype from tech vendors, what does best practice really look like