Account-based marketing isn’t exactly a shiny new toy, but the way ABM platforms talk about it could’ve fooled us both.
And don’t get me started on ABM platforms defining what ABM is based on their products’ capabilities.
The past few years, we’ve seen a shift toward favoring account-based activities in B2B marketing—and for good reason.
ABM offers the opportunity to connect (or reconnect) with your target accounts, scaling and personalizing as you go.
But some have swung the pendulum a bit too far, trading in proven demand generation activities for an all account-based, all-the-time mindset.
Marketers taking on ABM like a college kid buying up AMC stock may not realize:
I’m here to set the record straight: ABM is just one piece, not the end-all-be-all, of B2B marketing.
This is part 1 of our ABM/demand gen series. In this first article, I’m starting at the 30k foot level to look at why most companies should take a blended approach to ABM and demand gen. For most of the series, I’ll focus on the ground level: targeting, setting up campaigns and how to measure success. Finally, I’ll pull back out for some perspective on when ABM isn’t the right call.
What am I talking about, here?
But some enthusiastic marketing teams have latched onto an account-based approach, leaving direct response and performance marketing behind as the pendulum swings.
Others have confused ‘demand gen’ with a shotgun approach to marketing, resulting in more leads that don’t ever convert to revenue.
I’m not here to sell ABM short—it’s an incredible way to engage with target accounts.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need to choose between ABM or demand generation (or anything else, really).
Plenty of marketers think you have to choose one or the other, as if demand gen and ABM are mutually exclusive.
But the best B2B marketers use both demand gen and ABM at the same time.
You can (and should) run targeted demand gen programs for your ideal customer profile, even if you have ABM in place, too.
This series will give you, the marketer, a framework to think through how ABM and demand generation fit together in your own company and specific strategies to get better at both.
Long story, short: ABM is one of several marketing tactics you need for a well-rounded B2B marketing program—and ABM platforms aren’t the cure all you might think they are.
If you haven’t dipped your toes in the ABM water yet, take a breath (no FOMO here). ABM isn’t for everyone.
If you’re in over your head with the account-based approach, let’s get you back to
safer more innovative waters.
Running legit demand gen campaigns will help you hit your revenue numbers.
I see marketing teams make many of the same mistakes as they grow the team, expand to new markets, and take on new tech to support growth and get the message out.
The most common pitfalls I see include:
While I recommend a mix of both demand gen and ABM campaigns, most marketing teams will end up leaning one way or the other.
How do you know which to use, and when?
Short answer: it’s not.
Slightly longer answer: it’s not, but true ABM should focus solely on your top tier accounts and high value deals.
The smaller your deals, the more volume you need so your GTM strategy will rely more on demand gen tactics. They’re scalable and typically cheaper.
You can use demand gen to:
Side note: once you start to build more awareness, you can start to run more direct-response campaigns.
In a phrase, the larger and more complex your deals, the more your GTM strategy will rely on ABM.
You can use ABM to:
Side note: depending on where the account is in your funnel (open opp vs. no open opp) it may not make sense to run direct-response campaigns at all, and instead focus on a more personal touch with ABM.
I’ll be going deep in this series, but I can’t let you go without something a bit more tangible after all that naysaying.
How do you get started if you’re currently only doing demand gen or ABM?
You can double down on the efficiency of your account-based campaigns and use the targeted account lists to run better demand gen campaigns down the line.
Starting an account-based marketing approach from scratch can seem more than a little overwhelming. But, as long as you don’t overcomplicate it, ABM can complement your demand gen campaigns and lead to bigger opportunities.
Tl;dr — whether you’re all-in on ABM or still heads down in demand gen, you’ll likely get a lot of value by taking a blended ABM + demand gen approach. Just make sure you’re using the right tools, testing and collecting feedback, and iterating as you go.