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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6 Kick-Ass B2B Lead Generation Strategies for 2021

Lead generation, the process of identifying and nurturing potential customers, continues to be a major challenge for marketers in 2021.

The biggest reason behind it is that competition in every field is growing every day, and to get a significant number of leads, a business needs to stand out from the crowd.

But here's a fact: lead generation isn't about finding a "secret sauce" to help in the generation of tons of leads. Instead, it's about exploring the tried and tested methodologies to create the most practical combination of strategies based on the objectives and target industry. And determining the most appropriate methods can massively transform your overall revenue.

What is B2B Lead Generation?

In a nutshell, lead generation is the art of attracting and capturing your target audience's interest in a product or service for developing a sales pipeline. Lead generation lies in the second stage of inbound marketing. The inbound marketing process goes like this:

Attract → Convert → Close → Delight

Lead generation occurs in the second stage after your target audience has been attracted to your brand, and you're ready to convert them into your customers. For example, if a social media post attracted someone to visit your website, and then your website's content influenced the person to provide their email to you, that person would be considered a lead. And once you have the email address, with a proper strategy, you may end up turning that lead into an actual customer.

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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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Leveraging the authority of LinkedIn influencers for B2B

Most B2B marketers immediately dismiss influencer marketing as a vacuous activity only undertaken by their B2C counterparts to sell pretty packaging through anxiety-riddled models in between a morning green tea cleanse product post and a beach sunset photo.

It is far more complex and nuanced of a subject.

For B2B enterprises, the decision to employ influencer marketing comes down to a few key questions:

  1. Which influencer type is ideal?
  2. What KPI is the influencer being measured against?
  3. Which channel makes the most sense for this campaign?
  4. How does an enterprise go about creating and managing an effective influencer campaign based on the above?

To keep this discussion brief, influencers can generally be classified into three categorical buckets: aspirational, authoritative, and peer. As a definition, the aspirational influencer is a celebrity type, often with a large following, aspirational influencers are what most think of when visualizing what an influencer might look like.

The peer influencer, by contrast, is the everyday dad stopping at the grocery store on the way home from the office, your fishing enthusiast uncle on Facebook, or you to your next-door neighbor.

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B2B Content Isn’t Boring Unless Your Writing Is

It’s a common refrain: “We’re a B2B company. We can’t do the same things those B2C funsters get up to.” Another good one is, “Our product/industry/niche is just too serious and boring for content marketing.”

But it’s also worth pointing out that shedloads of content are published every day for which “boring” might be a polite description (“predictable” and “unnecessary” would be others.) I regularly come across reports, white papers, and articles that would require me to stab myself repeatedly in the leg with a fork simply to stay awake beyond the opening paragraphs.

I’m sure the marketers publishing this content wouldn’t say it’s boring. Perhaps they don’t always realize it is. Perhaps internal feedback convinced them the world really is desperate for an academic thesis on interlocking flanges … or something. Perhaps, as can be the case in B2B, the content was written to satisfy an internal audience – a C-suite eager for the brand to appear smarter than the competition on everything to do with flanges.

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Lead Conversion Statistics All B2B Marketers Need to Know

B2B marketing is complex with a myriad of tactics, technologies, and data solutions to choose from to promote your business and sell your products and services.

As complex as modern B2B marketing is, it is also as simple as:

  • How do I attract people to my products and services
  • How do I convert those people to purchase?

Ascend2, in partnership with Verse, surveyed 277 marketing professionals to learn more about the state of lead conversion.

If you find that lead conversion is difficult, you are not alone. The State of Lead Conversion in Marketing and Sales found that only 12% of marketing professionals are very satisfied with their lead conversion abilities.

Companies continue to struggle with establishing contact, qualifying, and effectively following up with the leads they spend so much time and money to generate. Lead conversion is challenging, but the inability to improve lead conversion rates has several significant, negative downstream impacts: wasted marketing budget, wasted sales team time, and significant lost revenue opportunity.

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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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Why The Top B2B Brands Compete On Story

In this economic downturn, we have seen firsthand the impact of curbed purchasing decisions in the global business-to-business (B2B) marketplace. Where traditional acquisition marketing has struggled, brand storytelling is flourishing and has a direct impact on the marketing pipeline.

Robert McKee wrote that "Leaders use story to author the future." Why is this more important than ever? In these challenging times, your audience wants to be led through this downturn into the future that awaits them.

To better understand the key themes that inspire effective storytelling, let's look backward to look forward. Prior downturns have taught me there are six themes that are most relevant in brand storytelling during times of crisis: humor, nostalgia, optimism, patriotism, price and value, empowerment. But knowing these themes is not enough to create a story brand. To do that, we need to take a few more steps in our praxis.

So, how do you get B2B brand storytelling right? Here are a few guidelines that truly make a difference.

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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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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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