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The Trojan Horse: Account Based Marketing

Authored by Santosh Kumar, Head of Marketing at AXISCADES

Marketers today have several new and improved technologies to assist them in reaching, engaging with and converting prospects. Ad platforms and DSPs have democratized ad delivery and machine learning is here to stay in almost all aspects of marketing. Even with all this amazing technologies at their disposal, marketers today face multiple challenges. 63% of B2B marketers list generating high quality leads as their biggest challenge and are spending more than half of their budgets on top of the funnel or awareness activities.

With an ever increasing pressure of generating incremental pipeline and revenue for the business, it’s challenging for marketers to ‘prove their impact’ through effective attribution and ROI on marketing investments. On the other end of the spectrum, buying behaviours have shifted and buyers want to have the ability to research a potential purchase, with seamless UX and personalization, before even talking to a sales person.

With evolving technologies and business priorities affecting the nature of the marketer’s role in an organization, they are forced to reinvent themselves continuously and invest time, money and effort in activities that yield maximum ROI for the business. Considering all the challenges thrown at a marketer in 2019, an old, almost sales tactic is coming to the rescue of marketers, albeit in a new and improved avatar. Enter the protagonist: Account Based Marketing(ABM).

Read More: Planning for precision in digital advertising & marketing: Antik Gupta

Why is ABM, an age old sales tactic, proving to be a key strategy that marketing is embracing?  Three primary reasons:

Sales plays and marketing plays are seen as two different strategies in enterprises and the cracks are clearly visible.
With so much digital noise surrounding a prospect, personalization and customer know how is proving to be the key differentiator in getting their attention.

Classic funnel based marketing is rigid and is not agile enough to adjust to the different twists and turns early sales conversations take.

The good news is that there are many diverse technologies and platforms that are built to aid the marketer successfully execute ABM. For example, ABM platforms like Engagio and DemandBase give you the flexibility to design ABM strategies the way you want to with expert services added as a deal sweetener. Kwanzoo and Vendemore offer point solutions and 6sense, Mintigo, and Radius offer predictive marketing analytics. Web personalization has come of age and players like Triblio, Optimizely and Get Smart Content are leading the way with user friendly interfaces that can be used by any business user. Every effective ABM strategy needs data that can be trusted. Data providers like DiscoverOrg, Datanyze, Bombora, and InsideView have empowered ABM flag bearers with customer data that is both current and runs deep into any target account.

Building a business case for these essential systems is easier than you think. C-suite recognizes the fact that the sales team needs a push from marketing to effectively surround the prospect digitally and also recognize the need for marketing to stop operating in silos. But if you are just getting started with Account Based Marketing, here are simple steps to help you get the ball rolling:

Together with your regional sales head, devise a strategy and identify key market plays. For example, reengaging lost pipeline could be a play or competitor’s client base might be something you want to go after.

Prioritize key accounts based on your strategy and collate contacts across different levels of the organization that you will target. Remember, an average B2B sale involves 6+ decision makers and influencers.

Identify key issues and current market insights of the target accounts and set up a communication plan.
Create personalized assets and creatives to deliver engaging content. You can even devise creative touches like adding custom gifts and handwritten notes into your mix. One effective ABM activity that I recently heard off bought a billboard display right outside the office that the decision maker worked at.

Once execution is in full swing, build an effective tracking mechanism that measures every interaction and adjust course based on the prospects response.

As more marketers and enterprises are realizing the benefits of effective ABM tactics, it’s important to bear in mind that ABM does require a significant commitment from the organization and a planned, phased approach. Legacy CRM systems, agency costs, platform costs and a limited supply of new age media and ad delivery experts are big holes in the bucket that businesses need to fix before embarking upon the Trojan Horse.  But whatever the problems, the benefits outweigh efforts. A good place to start is to build an effective partnership between Sales and Marketing. Mutually agree on targets and means of achieving it and you will already have a foot in the door. 

About the Author

Santosh Kumar is a senior marketing leader with extensive experience in developing, leading and executing an integrated, end to end marketing agenda. He has a solid track record of generating demand and results for large enterprises like Google and IBM, growth hacking for start ups like Manthan, and digital transformation for mid-size companies like Axiscades. He leads high impact teams and functions to build a positive multichannel experience that progresses the prospect through awareness, consideration and purchase cycles.

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