Going Forward, Account Based Marketing Will Be Even More Powerful. Here’s Why.

August 7, 2020

Woman sitting alone at a desk looking at computer and monitor

A few years ago, Saatchi & Saatchi introduced us to the tagline, “If it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be Tide.” If ABM were a brand, it’s tagline might be, “If it’s got to be won, it’s got to be ABM.”

Whether it’s advantageous for B2B marketers to use strategic practices that place empathy and personalization at the forefront is rhetorical. Of course it is. That, in a nutshell, is the definition of great marketing. Incidentally, it is also basically the definition of account-based marketing (ABM)

So why doesn’t every B2B marketer use ABM? LinkedIn’s survey of more than 800 B2B marketers showed just over half (54%) used ABM, although 80% planned to invest more in the practice moving forward. 

For B2B marketers, it’s never really been about pushing back against the concept of ABM. It’s more about the extent to which being highly selective, strategic, and personalized is warranted. For proactive B2B marketers, the ROI argument of ABM is enough to merit adoption. But if a B2B marketer can achieve their objectives without needing to venture outside of the comfort zone, where’s the motivation for adopting ABM? 

Enter the economic downturn. As downturns often do, the current situation has created a landscape where it’s going to take more to woo and win buying committees

5 Reasons ABM Adoption and Usage Will Accelerate 

As marketing leaders examine which programs and investments are essential and which aren’t, ABM efforts may come under the microscope for potential cost reduction. Companies will understandably  evaluate their track record with the approach. In most cases, this will justify continuing. But for companies still finding their footing with ABM, the case may not be as compelling. Here’s why it most likely makes sense to stick with ABM anyway. 

You Aren’t Selling to the Same Companies

The names may be the same, but every company is going to be in a different place coming out of this ordeal. Many already are. Some industries are suffering. Others are thriving. Sales organizations need to redefine what constitutes a target account in large part based on their ability to solve today’s pressing problems.

“While ABM is highly effective under normal circumstances, under the crisis management umbrella it is arguably the best way to target individuals with specific messages with tonal clarity and focus,” says Jaymie Scotto Cutaia. “It is your personal relationship strategy, and it can work. ABM solves many of the issues presented by global and company crisis management and outreach without even trying.”

Many B2B Brands’ Target Markets Are Changing

Your list of qualified or viable prospects may have changed during this time. ABM’s framework provides the means to re-evaluate your target account list and reset priorities. 

As LeadMD CEO Justin Gray proposes on Engagio’s blog, “Everyone should be re-casting target account lists to focus near term efforts on accounts that first, are still in a financial and environmental position to acquire solutions, and second, also have mission-critical problems solved by the solutions they can provide.”

Companies showing intent should be thoroughly examined. Which attributes do they share? The findings can then be used to update customer profiles that allow for the reaching of “sellable” accounts at scale. 

Those Who Nurture Will Win Future Sales

At a time when purchase decisions may be delayed, methodologies which transfer leads from marketing to sales earlier in the buying journey will more often result in prospects being mired in the early stages of individual sales reps’ pipelines. Relying on a single salesperson to ensure an account is well-nurtured is a risky proposition.

Relationship-building is clearly wise, and ABM strategies are often built around the focused but gradual pursuit of key accounts. With ABM, sales and marketing maintain a shared view of the account and its stakeholders, which is ideal for making sure your brand is in the best position when buying mode commences. 

New Stakeholders, New Needs

With the unfortunate reality of job loss and turnover for certain companies during this period, it’s all the more critical to be multi-threaded in accounts so you don’t lose sight of key contacts.

There’s also never been a greater need for tailored, personalized approaches. HR leaders are dealing with a new set of circumstances. So are CFOs, CTOs, etc.  Salesforce’s customer expectation research revealed that 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that blasting out the same blanket message isn’t going to fly.

On that note, it’s important to exercise caution in regards to personalization and tone, as it’s easy to overdo. During a crisis, “Keywords and other persona data have less impact and may feel tone-deaf, or worse, opportunistic. It is thus far more critical to simplify the message and position it in a way that is less keyword and persona driven – less mind reading and more heart reading,” advises Scotto Cutaia. 

A Rising Standard of Sophistication

Lastly – and this isn’t intended to be a scare tactic, but a logic-based prognostication – as more companies adopt ABM, your prospects will encounter a higher share of messages that come off as credible and empathetic. As buyers’ expectations rise, untailored approaches will become all the more ignorable. 

But how does a company “get there”? A common roadblock for those considering ABM is the perceived complexity of getting the program up and running. Leads need to be generated now, and there are only so many resources to generate them. Fortunately, ABM isn’t an all-or-nothing venture. There are three types of ABM, each requiring a different level of investment per account. You can choose a simplified approach that best suits your brand and gradually level-up your sophistication as you go. 

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In regard to keeping things simple, using a bunch of tactics and channels can work well, but if you’re just getting started, it’s important to make sure tactical sprawl isn’t distracting your focus from reaching the right accounts and people with the right message. 

If you oughta use ABM, you oughta use LinkedIn. Learn why LinkedIn is the most-used solution for ABM practitioners around the globe and how to achieve ABM success on the world’s largest professional network. Explore our guide, B2B Marketing Jumpstart to Account Based Marketing.