Marketing Riddle: When is account-based marketing (ABM) not account-based?

Answer: When it becomes one-size-fits-all and has nothing to do with actual accounts.

Many marketing organizations don’t set aside much in the way of dedicated resources for ABM. So it’s no surprise that many of these budget- and bandwidth-challenged marketing folks wonder how to get some scale out of their efforts. And by scale, I mean using the same amount of effort to reach more than one account. This can be a reasonable approach when done right. So how do you do it right? Here are a few suggestions to get started:

  • Know when to customize. Not everything needs to be done as a customized, individual effort. The first step to finding scale in ABM is to figure out which accounts and goals demand a one-to-one effort and which ones can benefit from a one-to-a-few or one-to-many effort. Compare, for example, what it takes to win a bid for a large, global outsourcing contract with the effort required to position a software solution with a new buying center in a subset of a named account list. Sometimes the call for custom effort is just a symptom of an inefficient process where marketing takes ad hoc, incoming orders from sales and doesn’t have visibility into where accounts’ needs may be similar. At other times, a custom effort is mandatory. If you know the difference, it’s much easier to make sense of the investment.
  • Play the match game. When the list of accounts is known, the next step, after the one-to-one accounts have been defined, is to find out where there are similar goals across accounts. These may be opportunities to source new demand, or they may be customer engagement and lifecycle support goals. The key is that more than one account has the same need or opportunity. Don’t forget to coordinate these across groups. For example, marketers in different geographies may not know that they have the same need as some of their peers. A big-picture view across all accounts makes it easier to spot like requirements.
  • Know what’s already available. Related to the match game is finding what already exists that can be used to meet an ABM need. Look across the organization at assets and events already developed or in development to see what can be reused, repurposed or otherwise incorporated into ABM efforts. Limited customization is a lot more efficient than reinventing the wheel. Consistent communication is one of the best tools for scaling ABM. Especially in larger organizations or highly distributed models, there may be plenty of of hidden gems that could do more good if more marketers knew about them.