ABM Readiness – Part II – Debunking ABM Myths

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has rapidly gained traction in the B2B marketing world, promising personalized and efficient strategies to win over key accounts. However, amidst its growing popularity, several myths have emerged, clouding the true essence and potential of ABM. In Part Two of our ABM Readiness Series, our experts from BBN Partner Elevated Third will demystify common misconceptions surrounding Account-Based Marketing, shedding light on what it truly entails and how it can be effectively implemented to drive substantial business growth. From the belief that ABM is just a new word for demand generation to misconceptions about its complexity and scope, we’re here to set the record straight and guide you through the realities of a well-executed ABM strategy.

Myth: ABM is Just a New Word for Demand Generation

In short, no. ABM (Account-based Marketing) and demand generation are two different marketing strategies. ABM focuses on targeting and personalizing marketing efforts toward specific key accounts, while demand generation aims to generate awareness and attract a larger audience.

As the name suggests, demand generation primarily concentrates on generating new leads and expanding a company’s reach and awareness. It utilizes marketing tactics such as content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and more to drive interest and capture leads. The ultimate goal of demand generation is to optimize the volume and cost of leads generated, and it is often associated with inbound marketing methodologies.

Now, let’s talk ABM, shall we? ABM focuses on a narrower target audience. It emphasizes generating engagement and sales pipeline growth within a predetermined target audience. Unlike demand generation, ABM takes a personalized approach, tailoring marketing efforts to specific individuals within key accounts. It aims to build relationships and deliver personalized experiences that address the unique needs of each account.

Both strategies have their benefits and serve different purposes. Demand generation helps create awareness and attract a wide audience, generating a higher volume of top-of-funnel leads. ABM, on the other hand, results in well-qualified, middle-of-funnel leads by concentrating efforts on the specific needs and preferences of key accounts.

It is important to note that ABM and demand generation are not mutually exclusive. In fact, when combined properly, they can complement each other. By utilizing both strategies, companies can achieve higher revenue and long-term customer loyalty.

 

Myth: ABM Focuses on MQLs

Um, nope. As you know, ABM is a strategy targeting high-value accounts with personalized messages and initiatives. MQLs, on the other hand, are leads identified as potential customers based on specific criteria such as demographics, behaviours, and activities.

Account-based marketing (ABM) and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) are fundamentally different concepts, but they can complement each other in a company’s overall marketing strategy.

One major benefit of ABM is that it can help companies generate higher-quality MQLs and achieve better conversion rates. By targeting accounts likely to become customers and building customized messaging, ABM campaigns can be more effective at nurturing leads and guiding them towards conversion.

At the same time, companies can use MQLs to complement their ABM efforts by using lead scoring and other techniques to filter out low-quality leads and focus on the most promising ones. Based on the information gathered from ABM campaigns, MQLs can be further qualified and prioritized, enabling more effective targeting and messaging.

In summary, while ABM and MQLs are different concepts, they can work together to help companies build stronger relationships with high-value accounts and generate higher-quality leads. By using ABM to identify and target key accounts and using MQLs to identify and nurture promising leads within those accounts, companies can achieve better results from their overall marketing strategy.

 

Myth: ABM Doesn’t Require Sales and Marketing

Swing and a miss.  ABM is a collaborative effort that involves both sales and marketing teams working together toward a common goal. In ABM, sales and marketing teams align their efforts to target, engage, and convert specific high-value accounts.

Here’s how sales and marketing collaborate in ABM:

  1. Account Selection: Sales and marketing teams collaborate to identify the target accounts based on revenue potential, strategic fit, and conversion likelihood. This collaboration ensures both teams have input and agreement on the target account list.
  2. Account Planning: Sales and marketing teams jointly develop account plans, outlining strategies and tactics for effectively engaging with each target account. The plans include details on messaging, personalization approaches, and the roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing in the account-based campaign.
  3. Personalization and Messaging: Marketing and sales collaborate to create personalized content and messaging tailored to each target account’s needs, pain points, and interests. Marketing provides the resources and creative assets, while sales provide valuable insights and specific knowledge about the accounts.
  4. Engagement and Outreach: Marketing and sales engage with the target accounts across multiple channels, including email, social media, events, and direct outreach. This collaboration ensures a coordinated approach to engage the right stakeholders within the target accounts.
  5. Sales Enablement: Marketing supports sales by providing them with the necessary materials, insights, and tools to engage with the target accounts effectively. This includes account-specific content, personalized landing pages, and relevant case studies or testimonials that help sales representatives build credibility and demonstrate value.
  6. Measurement and Feedback: Marketing and sales teams collaborate to track the progress and outcomes of their ABM campaigns. They analyze data and metrics to identify what is working well and what needs improvement. This joint feedback loop helps optimize strategies and continuously improve future campaigns.

By combining the expertise and perspectives of sales and marketing teams, ABM ensures a more holistic and effective approach to targeting, engaging, and converting high-value accounts.

 

Myth: You Can “Rinse and Repeat” in ABM

Now, that’s just silly. In ABM, personalization is a crucial element. If multiple companies can get value from your messaging, it’s not ABM. Personalization allows marketers to tailor their messages and content to specific target accounts, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of their communication. By customizing content according to each account’s needs, pain points, and preferences, marketers can create a more engaging and compelling experience for their target accounts.

Here are a few reasons why personalization is required for ABM:

  1. Relationship Building: Personalization helps build stronger relationships with target accounts by showing you understand their unique challenges and goals. Customizing your messaging and content to address their pain points and interests fosters a sense of trust and demonstrates your commitment to their success.
  2. Relevance and Engagement: By delivering highly relevant and tailored content to each account, you increase the chances of capturing their attention and keeping them engaged. Personalization ensures that your messages resonate with the recipients and are more likely to elicit a response or action.
  3. Differentiation: In a competitive market, personalization can help differentiate your brand and offerings among other choices available to the account. By demonstrating a deep understanding of their business and industry through personalized content, you position yourself as a trusted advisor and stand out.
  4. Account Alignment: Personalization in ABM requires close collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Through shared insights and knowledge, both teams can align their efforts to create personalized experiences that cater to each account’s preferences and needs.

Personalization is a critical component of ABM. It enables marketers to deliver tailored messages, build relationships, increase engagement, and differentiate their offerings. Personalizing your approach demonstrates a deep understanding of the account’s needs, which can lead to higher conversion rates and better overall results.

 

Myth: All You Need is ABM Software, and You’re All Set

You’re absolutely right! With a catch…

Implementing Account-Based Marketing (ABM) involves much more than just purchasing software. ABM is a holistic approach that requires people, processes, and technology to work together effectively.

While ABM software can help automate and streamline some aspects of the ABM process, it is not a “silver bullet” solution to achieving ABM success.

Here are some of the key elements required for successful ABM implementation:

  1. People: ABM requires a cross-functional team of marketing, sales, account managers, and customer success. Each stakeholder should understand their roles and responsibilities within the program and coordinate efforts to achieve common goals.
  2. Process: A well-defined ABM process is necessary to execute campaigns effectively. This includes account selection criteria, personalized messaging strategies, engagement tactics, and account-specific plans. The process should be flexible to adapt to changes and feedback.
  3. Data: Accurate and comprehensive data is critical for ABM’s success. This includes account-level data such as firmographics, technographics, and intent data, which helps inform account selection and messaging strategies. Engagement data across various channels also helps assess campaign effectiveness and optimize future efforts.
  4. Content: Personalized and relevant content is a key component of ABM. It should be tailored to the needs and interests of each target account, address their pain points, and provide a compelling value proposition.
  5. Technology: ABM requires technology that can enable effective targeting, personalization, and measurement. This includes ABM software but may also require integration with existing CRM systems, marketing automation tools, and analytics platforms.

 

Now, It’s Your Turn: Is it ABM or Not?

Now that we’ve covered some common ABM misconceptions, it’s time to see how much you’ve learned. It’s your turn to decide whether these examples are ABM or status-quo sales/marketing tactics masquerading as ABM. Answer “ABM” or “Not ABM” for each question below.

You developed a campaign to drive demo sign-ups for a new product by:

1. Sending out emails to all of your existing customers. The email has personalization around the customer’s name, industry, and account.

2. Sending a handwritten note to 10 of your best customers. It was co-written by sales and marketing and sent by the account manager, thanking them for their business and letting them know about the new offering and how it might be valuable for them.

3. Setting up an industry webinar series that promotes how the product drives value for your client’s top three industries. Marketing sent three separate email invites to active subscribers based on their industry with company name personalization.

4. Sending a 5-minute video to the top 10 accounts in the three target verticals with the top 2-3 value drivers of the new product offering to their industry. The video script was developed by marketing with input from the service team.

5. Sending a 5-minute video to the top 10 accounts in the three target verticals with the top 2-3 value drivers of the new product offering to their company. The video script was developed by marketing, sales and service to highlight specific customer benefits.

 

Answers:

  1. Not ABM
  2. ABM
  3. Technically, it could be programmatic ABM – either answer is acceptable
  4. Not ABM
  5. ABM

 

Did you miss Part I of our ABM Readiness Series? Read it now.

About the Author

Elevated Third, one of BBN’s partners in the US, offers a practical approach to ABM, which means leveraging technology to make intelligent, agile decisions. Elevated Third supports account-based experiences at every scale, emphasizing a crawl-walk-run approach to standing up processes, aligning teams, and ultimately closing business.

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