In case you are a voracious reader of everything marketing-related, you have most definitely come across the term account-based marketing. The concept has been around for quite a bit, but it has only recently become widely talked-about among people who do not actually do account-based marketing.
In case you run a company and are looking for new ways to attract new customers, you are probably wondering if account-based marketing is something that might work for you.
Well, that is exactly what we will be talking about today.
The Basic Principles of ABM
Account-based marketing is perhaps best described as super-focused marketing which is not supposed to draw in as many customers as possible. Instead, it targets only a number of major accounts whose business will be enough to keep the company going and growing.
A great description of ABM comes from Engagio, a company that does tools for account-based marketing (and sales) when they say that ordinary marketing is like using a fishing net to capture as much smaller fish as you can, while ABM is like using a harpoon to hunt only for the largest catch – the whale accounts.
Account-based marketing involves a much more precise identification of decision-makers in those companies that are considered big enough accounts to justify the subsequent marketing efforts. As a result of only a small target base, ABM efforts can be far more focused and personalized for this limited number of persons.
Of course, there are different "tiers" of ABM campaigns where some will target decision-makers within a single company while others will target a number of companies and some will target all companies that do a certain type of business.
It should be pointed out that the marketing techniques and channels that are used in ABM are not that different from what you would do with "traditional" marketing.
The difference is mostly in the level of personalization and focus.
Agency-Based Marketing as a Subtype
When we are talking account-based marketing, we should definitely take some time to mention agency-based marketing too. This is when a company targets a specific government agency for a contract of some kind. The biggest story in the history of ABM actually involved a company that used agency-based marketing to win a multi-billion contract with the state of Virginia (yes, Virginia is a commonwealth and not a state) to overhaul their state-wide IT system.
Doing agency-based marketing will involve even more work than account-based marketing since local, state and federal governments come with their additional sets of requirements like different contractor bonds, often certain political ties and a certain community involvement that sets your company apart.
Still, since such contracts can be quite lucrative, this is definitely something companies consider seriously.
Which Companies Can and Which Can't Do ABM?
Deciding whether your company can and should do ABM will come down to the type of business you are in and what your market looks like.
For one, if you are in the business-to-consumer business, it is highly unlikely that ABM would do anything for you. There are only a few B2C products and services that might be so valuable so as to justify the ABM approach that will get you a few super-wealthy customers.
In the real world, ABM is reserved for B2B businesses and not just any B2B businesses.
For example, let's say that you are a B2B company that sells a certain product which other businesses purchase and rarely come back for something else that you sell, it is highly unlikely that the ABM approach will work for you.
However, if you provide a certain service that involves long-term contracts where a certain number of such contracts is enough for your company to survive and grow, then ABM might just be the thing for you.
A great example would be an IT company that specializes in providing services to healthcare institutions and organizations. In such a scenario, ABM would make perfect sense because you would be targeting a limited number of organizations in your general area, providing them with services and entering long-term, stable contracts.
When deciding whether account-based marketing is the right way to go for your company, you need to factor in whether it makes actual sense for you to market your services/product to just a limited number of potential customers.
Also, you need to understand that while the techniques and the channels are mostly the same, it takes a lot to learn the intricacies of good ABM.
Still, it is definitely worth considering and learning more about.
Written by: James D. Burbank has been involved in the world of marketing for almost 15 years. He is currently splitting his time between Australia and Europe and working only when he has to. You can check him out on Twitter - @JBurbank2019
Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.