Account-Based Marketing: Not One-Size-Fits-All
We are often asked what account-based marketing (ABM) should look like, but the answer depends on the company looking to do it. That’s because ABM isn’t one strategy. There are four different types to consider. Depending on a company’s size, go-to-market model and business goals, some or all of these may apply. ABM models are prioritized based on seller and customer needs. To define your organization’s ABM needs, review these four options.
We are often asked what account-based marketing (ABM) should look like, but the answer depends on the company looking to do it. That’s because ABM isn’t one strategy. There are four different types to consider. Depending on a company’s size, go-to-market model and business goals, some or all of these may apply. ABM models are prioritized based on seller and customer needs. To define your organization’s ABM needs, review these four options:
- Large-account marketing. When people hear “account-based marketing,” often what comes to mind is what SiriusDecisions calls large-account marketing. This approach assigns dedicated marketing resources to a company’s biggest customers or very high-value prospects. Customized treatment is justified for these accounts due to their size and complexity. From a sales point of view, the accounts may have labels like global, strategic or large enterprise. Use this approach when a large share of growth is contingent upon delivering results in a very small number of companies, and when sellers can benefit from customized marketing help. If sales often asks marketing for help supporting its largest accounts, which have no defined marketing plan, then dedicated large-account resources should be more effective than ad hoc assignments.
- Named-account marketing. This approach focuses on a specific list of target accounts assigned to sellers and typically includes a blend of existing customers and prospect accounts. The list of accounts per sales rep is usually between 10 and 50, often assigned by geographic territory. Sometimes named-account lists include large accounts, but usually these named accounts are the next tier down in terms of current and potential value. Choose this approach if the sales model delivers business growth from a defined universe of specific accounts. Broad-based demand creation is not as effective, since it doesn’t discriminate between named and non-named accounts. On the other hand, if the named accounts are more of a guideline for sales than a mandate, and any account that presents opportunity will get sales attention and credit, this approach is unnecessary.
- Industry- or segment-account marketing. Similar to named-account marketing, an industry or segment-account marketing strategy has a specific list of target accounts, but instead of a wide range of account types, it is restricted to companies in a defined segment or industry. This model works when a company sells to markets or segments with only a few, well-defined customers, so the market itself imposes a segment-account-based model. This can also be effective for entering new markets or new buying centers where there is a list of target accounts, and broad-based marketing will not be effective.
- Customer marketing. In contrast to the previous three models, which focus on how to support a buyer’s journey in a defined universe, customer marketing focuses on supporting the post-sale experience and relationship. Every company needs systematic, relevant customer marketing support. The ways it is delivered and the degree to which it is critical for retention and growth vary by business model and product, service or solution. Customer marketing focuses on the non-selling interactions and communications that support better customer engagement, loyalty and advocacy. It supports retention, cross- and upselling efforts by creating a positive environment throughout the customer lifecycle. Components range from analytics and monitoring to retention nurturing, advocacy and reference development. Marketing helps sales or partners efficiently and cost-effectively maintain a relevant dialogue with customers.