Don't Let the Hype Around Account Based Marketing Confuse You

Account-based marketing is just another step towards more effective marketing

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

You’ve probably heard a lot recently about Account Based Marketing (ABM). It’s the latest trend to create a huge buzz in marketing. Plenty of marketers I know are starting to panic. Do they need to rethink their entire strategy? How can they start a whole new branch of marketing, when they still have the same budget and headcount as last year?

It’s time to stop panicking. From my perspective, ABM isn’t a technology or a methodology, it’s a mindset, one that can be implemented across all your marketing activities. Moreover, ABM is not really a revolution, it’s an evolution of traditional marketing methodologies.

Aligning Your Targeting

Traditionally, marketing campaigns were targeted towards different types of people. SEO efforts were focused on getting certain personas onto your website. Email blasts with your company content went out to broad lists of target contacts. Display banners were placed on websites chosen for their ability to draw particular types of viewers.

At the same time, the sales team focused on accounts - organizations. They chose the organization first and then tried to identify the various stakeholders, those who can influence buying decisions. In theory, these two audiences should line up. In reality? A lot of the time, sales, and marketing end up talking to two different groups of people or talking to the same people in an uncoordinated way.

In the past few years, though, we’ve seen the introduction of various technologies that have helped marketing target specific accounts more precisely. Real-Time Personalization (RTP) allows you to present specific content to specific people. Addressability and programmatic buying have helped target display banners to people with specific characteristics, for example, LinkedIn helps you target specific titles in specific organizations. Today, it’s increasingly possible to target marketing the way you once would have targeted sales, and account-based marketing is just part of this evolutionary path.

Marketing and sales were always supposed to be part of the same process, but now it’s possible to create the perfect alignment. It’s far too easy for marketing, and sales departments to each go off and do their own thing. Now, it’s more necessary than ever before to plan together and then execute together. Account-based marketing is simply going after the same targets as sales, to build a road for them to follow.

Setting an Account Based Marketing Strategy

Here are some things you’ll want to do to create an effective account-based marketing strategy:

  • Make sure your company’s go-to-market strategy specifies your target audience, including geography, company size, industry, and role.
  • Set joint targets for marketing, and sales, and choose a list of target accounts based on your company’s go-to-market strategy.
  • Align your marketing database with those targets. Your marketing campaigns need to be hitting the same companies, and people your sales team are going after. This includes removing leads that are not part of your target audience.
  • Align the marketing and sales teams compensation plan with the company’s business targets.
  •  Coordinate efforts between marketing and sales, which doesn’t mean working in parallel, rather together, complementing each other. Make sure the sales team is aware of the marketing campaigns and leverages them. Always measure your campaigns, whether led by marketing or sales teams. See what is working and make changes if needed, without being deterred by team loyalty or pride. Be creative and stand out. For example, if everyone is sending emails, be different and use video instead. It’s more personal and has up to seven times better conversion rates.

Account-based marketing is just another step towards more effective marketing. It’s a marketing strategy that focuses on targeting the exact relevant people who influence the sales cycle. When done right, ABM seamlessly blends marketing and sales into one continuous process. It’s the next step in the ever more targeted marketing trajectory.