TLDR: Accounts-based marketing (ABM) has rapidly become a staple in the marketing and sales space, but getting it right takes a lot of time and investment. You need alignment across your marketing and sales teams, the ability to target and build relationships with individuals, the support of a robust tech platform, and so much more. This leads to an important question: should you outsource this function to an agency?

In a recent Tough Talks Made Easy, we talked about the value of accounts-based marketing (ABM) in landing deals with high ROI. The benefits are clear: ABM lets you be more efficient by focusing on a finite set of prospects, it fosters alignment between your sales and marketing teams, and it gives you more visibility into where your efforts are being spent.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the principles that make a successful ABM strategy, as well as some key considerations that will help your CMO and CSO decide how best to implement it. Let’s dive in.

 

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL ABM STRATEGY? 

To reiterate, ABM is a strategy for producing marketing campaigns that target particular accounts. So, a big part of that process is determining which accounts you want to prioritize. This starts by going back to your target customer persona, the sweet spot for your product or solution. From there, your sales and marketing teams should work together to determine the parameters for prioritizing accounts. These can include the size or market share of the organization, how much influence the prospect has in the market, the strength of the existing relationship (if any), and whether they have money to spend.

You shouldn’t have too many or too few criteria. Basically, you need enough to ensure that both marketers and sales reps are reflected in the selection process, but not so many that it makes it difficult to find more than a handful of accounts to pursue.

Once you know who you’re targeting, you need to be able to create targeted messaging that speaks to the individuals you’re trying to reach. This can look like a two-pager that outlines what you know about their specific challenges and pain points, and how your solution might address them. Or it could be a targeted billboard that you know your prospect will drive by on their way to their office, calling them out to give you a call. (Believe me, I’ve seen it!) For that, you need marketers that work closely with sales to create these assets, with enough time to dedicate to these initiatives.

The other consideration is technology. As ABM has become a more mainstream function for marketing and sales teams, we’ve seen the emergence of various ABM platforms. This includes the likes of Demandbase, 6sense, and Triblio. Choosing the right platform comes down to whether it solves the problems you want it to, whether it fits in your budget, and whether it integrates with your existing solutions. But it’s also important to remember that a tool is only as good as the strategy that’s behind it—and the team that uses it. As such, any investment in technology also requires a lot of time and effort to craft a robust strategy that has a high chance for success.

Are these all things you and your leaders feel you can accomplish with the resources you have available?

 

TO WORK WITH AN AGENCY OR NOT TO WORK WITH AN AGENCY

This brings us to the age-old question that surrounds any marketing function. Should you get outside help? A lot of the considerations here will be familiar: can you afford to hire a full-time employee to drive ABM? Do you have the budget to spend on an ABM platform? Are you prepared to build the experience you need to get ABM right in the long run? What happens if your leaders try it out for six months and decide it’s not worth it?

When it comes to ABM, working with an agency is probably the right place to start. Here’s why:

  • An agency will come with a wealth of experience and perspective from designing and implementing ABM strategies with other companies around the world.
  • As agencies have their own technology partnerships, they can help minimize the spend that you would have to put towards an ABM platform. They’ll also have guidance on how to best integrate that tooling into your existing martech stack.
  • With their expertise and exposure to the space, an agency team will also help address any knowledge gaps you and your team might have, saving you from making mistakes.
  • An agency that’s entirely focused on your ABM strategy will help you get results faster, but they’ll also be easily decommissioned if down the line you and your leaders decide that ABM isn’t the right way to go.

To help your marketing and sales leaders decide: dipping your toes into the ABM pool with an agency will reduce your risk exposure and likely increase the return on your initial investment in this space. Plus, working with an agency has the added benefit of giving you access to all the knowledge and resources you need to bring the function in-house when and if it feels right to do so.

There’s a lot to think about, no question. But, with these points in your back pocket, you’ll be able to have a great discussion with your leaders about what your team’s next step should be when it comes to ABM.

Need more help figuring out how to successfully adopt your ABM strategy? Get in touch.

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