- Companies often struggle to understand how traditional demand creation should be aligned with account-based marketing
- The SiriusDecisions Demand Spectrum considers account insight, joint marketing and sales participation, and available account-specific customization
- Evaluate the elements along the demand spectrum to align internally in accordance with the most appropriate demand creation and engagement approach
Many companies struggle to understand how traditional demand creation efforts – marketing to accounts – should be aligned with account-based marketing (ABM), and how or when to deploy which strategy. The thought of equating the game of golf to demand creation may seem a little odd, but hear me out. Imagine four common golf shots: the drive, the approach, the chip and the putt. When a golfer is standing on the tee about to drive the ball, the fairway can look very narrow and the target very distant. Playing an approach along the fairway brings more focus and a clearer view of obstacles and, potentially, the green. When using the chip, you focus on the flag, and with the putt, you begin to see every minute camber and dip between your ball and the hole. The choice of club, the force applied and the direction you hit the ball depend on several factors that guide your play (e.g. the distance from the hole, the lie of the ball, presence of bunkers).
No one shot is better than the other; each is equally valuable. As in golf, so with demand creation efforts. Marketers must evaluate the key factors that determine the most appropriate strategy to adopt.
We see three key influencing elements along the SiriusDecisions Demand Spectrum, which offers a method for companies to determine the most appropriate single or combined approach. It does this by structuring an evaluation of two key elements placed on an x and y axis (account insight, joint marketing and sales participation) and then with a third element as an overlay, which describes the degree of available account-specific customization.
Just as no golfer turns up to the tee with a blindfold and smashes the ball in any direction, all marketers aim to address potential new buyers and existing customers with focused and relevant targeted communication. An organization’s ability to invest and deliver across these three key elements highlights the most viable demand creation and engagement approach.
Let’s look at the elements in more detail:
- Account insights. This measures the degree to which an organization is able or willing to invest in delivering relevant and validated insights on accounts. The required type of information must be agreed on and will lay the foundation for future sales-led account interaction and the delivery of appropriate account-focused engagement.
- Joint account-level engagement. A high level of account insight alone does not automatically equal an ability to deliver an ABM approach. For ABM to operate effectively, the sales team must recognize the value of marketing’s insights. This must translate into a willingness by sales to engage with marketing in joint planning and execution of activities at the account level.
- Account-specific customization. Armed with insight and a commitment from sales to engage, marketing must also assess its ability to deliver and measure account-based customized activity. A marketing function that has insights and the cooperation of sales to engage at the account level, but can only deliver broad market or persona-based collateral cannot undertake an effective ABM strategy.
Having evaluated each element, it’s now possible to begin to structure approaches into four major types of demand creation and engagement:
- Defined demand. With little specific account insight available, it’s unlikely that sales will engage with marketing at the account planning level. Effective joint segment planning and lead management processes will guide alignment between the functions. At this level, only limited customized account activity will be possible.
- Focused demand. More investment into insights by marketing into sub-markets via greater focus should lead to a greater understanding of accounts. This offers the justification for greater customization to accounts or groups of accounts. The potential for sales engagement will increase because of the insight.
- Named/industry account marketing. With a strong understanding of the segment and accounts – and a good degree of sales engagement – a named or industry approach is possible. The degree that marketing can offer account-specific customization will be a significant factor in driving success.
- Large-account marketing. This approach requires Investment to gain a high degree of insight, effective joint planning and advanced levels of customization. The levels of effective resources allocated will ultimately determine the number of accounts and geographies to which this ABM approach can be applied.
In golf, the choice of a certain club is appropriate in certain circumstances but not in others. Both market and ABM approaches offer viable engagement options, and companies must explore the full range of the elements along the demand spectrum to align internally as to the most appropriate approach.