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Why and how to do Account Based Marketing

Chris Field
Chris Field

Marketers with long time memories (me) may remember a time when sales and marketing went hand in hand. Sales sold products and looked to marketing to produce brochures, flyers, postcards, mailshots, exhibition stands and overhead projection slides. OK, you may not remember what the last one was, and frankly you don’t need to know. 

Marketers are still doing many of these jobs, but most are spending the bulk of their time on digital, and while this has delivered great results, it has also created a rift between tech companies and their customers, because so much of it is just good old-fashioned interruption marketing on a massive scale.

It is time to return to a more focused, targeted and responsive form of marketing and remarkable about 2019 has been just how far marketing has gone back to its roots.

Bringing sales and marketing closer again

Call it account based marketing (ABM) if you want, as if this is a completely new technique, but once you unpick it, it looks a lot like what marketing has always tried to do. The essential difference now is that sales and marketing are working more closely together and that’s all to the good. Even at Fieldworks, we are engaged in all sorts of close-touch activity that you could not really call marketing, but business development and sales engagement.

For the purpose of clarity, ABM is simply marketing to a small and well-researched set of prospects using a mix of big and small marketing techniques; big, as in PR, trade shows and social advertising; small, as in direct mail, social selling and private events.

Prospects coming into focus

For anyone going down this route, and more and more of our clients certainly are, do not underestimate how much work is involved on both sides, client and agency. Once you get closer to a prospect, you begin to see all the moving parts – multiple personas and influencers, varied buyer journeys, unique cultures, lots of politics and arse covering, perceived ideas based on history and so on. All of this insight needs to be built into your expectations and therefore your ABM activity.

Some exponents of ABM think that it is simply a machine, with inputs and outputs. It isn’t, because that approach lulls everyone into a false sense of security, feeling they don’t need to do anything. ABM is about starting and nurturing relationships, and if you know anything about those, you will know that they need constant attention.

Time and effort pays off

And everyone has to play their part, which may be a challenge if your own internal culture is not one of collaboration. For instance, hunter salespeople do not really like ABM; it forces them to do a number of things they hate to do – slow down, work with other people and hang about inside an account, particularly when there are no inside or pre sales people who can nurture the opportunity.

The joy of ABM is, it definitely works, as long as it starts with deep research to reveal your ideal customer profile that will validate the prospects you choose; and ends with obsessive attention to content and communications.

What it most definitely is not, is interruption marketing, which characterises most activity in this market. If clients want ROI on their marketing budget, then ABM is about as close as you can get, as long as the sales and commercial teams are prepared to play ball. Together.

At Fieldworks we specialise in helping retail tech brands build visibility and reach prospects with our award winning digital marketing and PR.

To find out more about our ABM services visit: 

http://www.fieldworksmarketing.co.uk/services/account-based-marketing/

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