I always find it interesting when strategies, tactics, or methodologies that have been around for a generation or more suddenly become the newest trend. That’s what’s been happening with ABM. Chances are good that your executive team has even asked about it over the past year – but do they even know what ABM is?
And, to make things even more confusing, there’s a high probability that if you asked 10 marketers “what is ABM?” you’d likely get 10 different responses. “It’s a strategy to align sales and marketing.” “It’s a software or platform offering.” “It’s a tactic like targeted display or direct mail.” “It’s just buzzword bingo for what good B2B marketers have been doing for decades.”
So, what is ABM? One way to examine what ABM is, is to take a hard look at what ABM isn’t. Let’s dive in.
ABM Isn’t a Product
There are hundreds of vendors in the space who would like to tell you otherwise, but ABM can’t and shouldn’t be solved by a single vendor. You can’t pick up the phone, buy some software and “have ABM.” It isn’t something you can just “turn on” by signing an IO with a vendor.
ABM is a strategy that should be employed across a variety of marketing tactics. Display, email, syndication, direct mail, social – ABM is about aligning all of these tactics strategically to move the needle on your target account book. It’s a lot of moving pieces organized into a cohesive attack plan, designed to drive engagement and revenue from what you’ve identified as your best and brightest account opportunities. Every vendor has its place in the ABM ecosystem, but you should never be putting all of your ABM eggs in one basket.
ABM Isn’t New
While it may have a new-ish acronym, Account-Based Marketing has been around for decades, and in the beginning, it was commonly referred to as sales. The difference we’re seeing now isn’t in the strategy (hyper-targeting a focused group of accounts with a custom messaging approach), but in the execution.
Instead of relying on sales, which is the most expensive business unit in the company; marketing has stepped up to employ these strategies at scale, resulting in a lower over-all cost. A successful ABM strategy includes both sales and marketing outreach, with the heavy lifting now being done by the marketing side.
ABM Isn’t the End-All, Be-All
Account-Based Marketing is a terrific strategy and needs to be part of every B2B marketing organization’s battle plan, but it is not the ONLY strategy that works. As the saying goes, too much of a good thing is usually a bad thing, and the same can be said for ABM programs. ABM should absolutely be a key strategy in your customer acquisition plan, but it shouldn’t be the only one.
What ABM Really Is…
ABM is a time-proven strategy that needs to be part of every B2B marketing organization’s battle plan. But the important thing is not to buy into the hype that one vendor or “platform” is going to check all of your ABM boxes. By focusing on target accounts across multiple tactics, and not relying on any one “basket,” you can drive a ton of ROI for your sales and marketing organization.