The Modern Approach to Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing plays a critical role in the growth of many businesses across a variety of industries. However, many marketers often rely on ABM when it may not be the best fit. In addition, what worked for account-based marketing even just a few months ago, may not be the most optimal strategy for marketing today.

In this article, we’ll explore how account-based marketing has changed over the years and whether or not it should be your focus. We’ll also explore in detail the many factors you need to consider to do ABM right.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) isn’t new

While reading a book called “No Forms, No Cold Calls & No Spam” by Latané Conant, I came to the realization that many vendors try to position ABM as a $40,000 technology stack problem.

The book dedicates quite a few pages to the ‘customer-centric stack’ and argues that because you’re now able to know when someone is in the market for a solution like yours [via IP lookup or 1st or 3rd party intent data], you don’t need to “spam” them.

Here’s the irony though— even though potential customers may be in the market for a solution like yours, you still need to deploy the traditional sales/marketing strategies to convince them to make a purchase.

While it is true that technology has enabled us to create more personalized & relevant experiences for prospects & allowed us to target people in very specific ways, it can also quickly approach the point of diminishing returns.

The marketing industry, like most industries, like to invent new terms to recycle old concepts. And in the case ABM, that’s exactly what has happened. Account-Based Marketing has in fact been around since the 1940s. When sales made a list of logos they wanted to sell, or the list of ‘dream customers’ to close. In those days we just called it sales.

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content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing, marketing leaders, ABM, B2B strategy, Building trust, B2B Brands, ABM Campaigns

The Importance of Brand in ABM

Account-based marketing presupposes that leads are not the goal of the program. After all, it’s not called lead-based marketing. Rather than hoping someone fills out a form, modern go-to-market teams today focus on creating awareness and traffic. This translates into signals (engagement data, intent data, etc.) that outbound and sales teams can then use to understand and prioritize their accounts as they progress to revenue opportunities. So if awareness and traffic is the goal, what’s the strategy? Brand.

As a reformed B2B demand gen marketer myself, I know how that might sound questionable. You need to be measured on numbers, and brand is notoriously unquantifiable. Our CEO (and a former badass CMO), Tim Kopp, explained how brand drives demand on an episode of The Roof.

The Power of Brand

If you didn’t watch the video, here’s the key sentence: “Think about the biggest traffic days on your website. It wasn’t advertising, it was a big announcement, product enhancement, etc.” Creating a magnetic brand is so much more important than just raw lead generation.

Are you supposed to give up leads? If we’re talking about leads as raw marketing performance, then yes, absolutely, get rid of ‘em. If we’re talking about leads as qualified inbound requests who know what you’re about and need help making a buying decision, then no. Here’s the thing though: If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably not a highly transactional, product-led solution that would benefit from a coordinated go-to-market strategy. 

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brand awareness, content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing, marketing leaders, future of marketing, ABM, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Building trust, B2B Brands, ABM Campaigns, Brand

In B2B Marketing, Personalization and Relevancy Must be the Same

Remember back in 2010 when you got your first email from a brand that knew your first name automatically and it gave you all the feels? I still remember my first “Hello Randy!” marketing email. It felt so personal, didn’t it?

But then, as with everything cool and new, it quickly became the norm. We figured out merge fields, the magic was revealed and those initial “ooh” and “ahh” sensations we first felt left us in a hurry. Fast-forward to today, and personalization is still a key goal in marketing. It could even be argued that it’s grown in importance, as data has become more accessible and actionable.

But… do you really understand personalization? What if I told you that relevancy is actually at the heart of the personalization you need today in your marketing? It’s true, and here’s why:

Merge Text Fields are the Bare Minimum

First, don’t get me wrong. I have zero beef with merge fields and it’s still cool to log in to my Netflix account, for example, and see that familiar salutation with my name on the screen. But it’s what comes after the hello that can make me feel like the VIP of customers and, even more importantly, provide me with real value.

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content marketing culture, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, capturing audience, CMO, marketing leaders, personalization, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Marketing 2021, Marketing Trends 2021, Content Relevancy, Merge Text Fields

Why sales enablement is much more than just another buzzword

But what about sales enablement? Is it just one more buzzword used by businesses to try and sell another piece of software that doesn’t actually help salespeople? The short answer is a resounding no. Sales enablement is much more than a buzzword – and it’s here to stay.

The only complication is that it can mean different things to different people, and its definition has changed significantly over the years. Before technology reigned supreme, sales enablement could be defined as anything that helps teams sell better. For example, a comfortable pair of shoes that allows sales teams to move faster and for longer than their competitors. Today, things are rather different.

In the modern world, sales enablement is all about using content and resources in the most effective and efficient way possible, with the goal of helping sales teams complete more sales faster by shortening the buyer journey.

Content that connects

Sales enablement helps to solve many of the key problems that B2B sellers suffer from – namely the fact that there is too much content, and at the same time, rarely the right content when it’s actually needed.

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content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, marketing leaders, future of marketing, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Building trust, B2B Brands, Sales Advisors

The 3 most destructive mistakes marketers make with intent data

Growing usage of intent data is proof that marketers are excited about its promise: to illuminate who is actively in the market for a solution, and the topics in which they are likely interested. But the downside is that, if not used correctly, intent data will fail to deliver results.

To help you avoid pitfalls and make the most of intent data, here are three common mistakes that you can avoid with upfront planning.

1) Marketers see intent data as a silver bullet

Intent data is not magical. Its potential is exciting, but it won’t fill in all of your marketing gaps. Many marketers see the possibilities that intent data brings, and assume that the technology will do their work for them. But as with any other marketing tech innovation, we know that they don’t work unless we do.

Intent data won’t miraculously fix all issues in your marketing and sales process. But it is valuable. What it can do is improve business outcomes by creating greater efficiency in your funnel.

For example, as you get more sophisticated in working with – and responding to – intent data, you can likely improve your cost per lead by truly delivering the right message, at the right time to the right people.

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content marketing culture, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing, marketing leaders, Tactical Marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Advertising trends 2021, Buying intent

3 B2B Sales Strategies Proven to Win More Customers

What is B2B sales?

B2B sales, also known as business to business sales, refers to companies who primarily sell products and services to businesses, rather than direct to consumers (B2C). B2B sales typically have higher order values, longer sales cycles and are often more complex than B2C sales.

B2B sales has changed dramatically in recent years and the B2B sales strategies that used to work are no longer effective.

B2B sales used to be a lot easier.

If a person needed a product or solution, they’d reach out to a potential vendor and deal with a sales person, who’d pitch them with the best options to choose. And if they were happy with what they heard, they would make a purchase.

It was a relatively straight forward process, in which marketing was responsible for filling up the sales funnel with leads, and then for sales teams, they were responsible for getting those leads into a sales pipeline and moving them down the funnel and into a sale.

“The traditional purchase funnel diagram, one which any marketer could sketch from memory, is officially dead. The singular, orderly sequence of purchase stages has been scrambled, and marketers need to conform. In today’s world, where consumers have access to constant information through computers, smart phones and tablets, each person’s path to purchase is complex and unique.“

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content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, marketing leaders, future of marketing, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Building trust, B2B Brands, Sales Advisors, Building Community

Why B2B marketers need to bet big on ‘The Big Long’

Imagine for a moment that you are not a B2B marketer. Instead, think of yourself as an investor, and ask yourself this: how do you identify great investments? Well, here’s a winning approach learned from watching the movie ‘The Big Short’ over and over again.

First, find a contrarian idea. The Big Short is about five investors who predicted the housing market crash that was the catalyst for the financial crisis of 2008/09, in defiance of conventional wisdom.

Second, make sure you are right by examining the evidence. In the movie, the character played by Steve Carell flew down to Florida to confirm the housing market was, in fact, comprised of sub-prime loans.

Third, be prepared to wait a while. The housing market did not collapse overnight. It took several years for the contrarians to cash in on their investment.

The big long

Let’s return to the world of B2B marketing. If Warren Buffett was a B2B marketer, where would he invest his capital? We’ll tell you where: at the very top of the funnel. In fact, that’s precisely what Warren Buffett does, buying stakes in famous brands like Coca-Cola, Geico and Apple. In B2C and in B2B, brand building might just be the single best investment a business can make.

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content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing, marketing leaders, future of marketing, marketing tactics, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Building trust, B2B Brands, Sales Advisors, Hyper personalization, Building Community

Three steps to level up your B2B marketing in 2021

2020 was full of disruption and fast pivoting across the marketing spectrum. But for B2B marketers—whose plans are often anchored around in-person events—this period changed the playbook on how to reach crucial business decision-makers. To learn more about how the business decision-making process has changed—and how marketers are adapting accordingly—Twitter partnered with Bain on a new research study.

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content marketing culture, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, capturing audience, CMO, content creation, content marketing, marketing leaders, Tactical Marketing, Tactical Marketing Plan, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Marketing 2021, Marketing Trends 2021

B2B selling in 2021 - give me industry expertise over the flawed pursuit of hyper-personalization

Last week, I threw hyper-personalization under the bus (The myth of hyper-personalization - algorithms are still undermining the customer experience). My beef with hyper-personalization raises another question: how should B2B companies approach marketing and sales in 2021?

One of hyper-personalization's biggest drawbacks? Throwing technology at the wrong problem:

Are we really prepared to argue that algorithms are savvy enough to anticipate our needs in a moment-by-moment context?

Is hyper-personalization the right sales and marketing goal?

This personalization obsession has spilled into sales and marketing, with the fantasy that if we present the prospect with the right offer at just the right time (marketing), or send an "intelligent trigger" from our CRM system (sales), we'll magically have ourselves a new customer. Alas, that ambition gets mucked up by the near-irresistable temptation to blast our contacts with spray-and-pray offers hiding under the personalization rationale, but that's a rant already made.

For sales and marketing to earn relevance in today's economy, we need to redefine the problem. I believe this is fundamentally about culture change, not tech.

I have the apparently unfashionable view that marketers need to become educators/content producers with a journalistic bent, while salespeople need to become advisors.

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content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing, marketing leaders, future of marketing, marketing tactics, Tactical Marketing, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Building trust, B2B Brands, Sales Advisors, Hyper personalization, Building Community, Opt-in Community

B2B Sales & Marketing Leaders Take Note: Brand Is Trust At Scale

"I don't care about brand. I care about revenue." We've all heard some variation of this countless times.

One of the most pervasive and value-destroying misconceptions held by many business leaders is their belief that brand only — or mostly — matters for consumer products.

“We build serious products that solve serious problems for serious buyers,” say these B2B leaders. “We identify pain and position our solution to alleviate that pain.”

Dials. Emails. Leads. Meetings. Demos. It’s all very logical. Clearly measurable.

Marketers Contribute To The Problem

We marketers are often complicit in this value-destroying mindset. We’re data-driven marketers, aren’t we? We’re modern marketers. We scoff at the old days of billboards, television commercials and ads in newspapers and magazines.

That world is over, grandpa.

We use serious tools to deliver serious messages and to report on every activity taken. “Good” marketers speak the language of MQLs, SQLs, lead scoring, conversion and attribution.

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content marketing culture, lead generation, marketing strategy, B2B content marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing, marketing leaders, future of marketing, marketing tactics, Tactical Marketing, Best tactics marketing, B2B strategy, B2B Sales, Building trust, B2B Brands

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