ABM or Account Based Marketing has become the ‘talk of the town’ recently, with several agencies that specialise in ABM marketing, touting its superiority over Inbound Marketing. However, for all of its advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider and questions about whether an ABM model is a viable strategy for all businesses.
What is ABM?
In a nutshell, Account Based Marketing works by targeting competitors that are similar to a client’s key accounts. By considering their similarities and differences, and heavily researching the decision makers at the target business, the client can target them directly with highly personalised and influential content. The relationships that are fostered and the content provided will then ultimately persuade each and every decision-maker to consider the client in question as the best potential partner.
How is it different to Inbound Marketing?
A lot of the content that Inbound marketing produces (emails, whitepapers, case studies etc.) are still relevant, but because the ABM strategy is so personal it takes considerably more time and resources to target individuals rather than markets. An ABM agency may already use buyer personas, but this takes it to a new level, increasing engagement and relevance for each target.
Sales and Marketing must be accurately aligned for a successful ABM strategy. It’s no good creating marketing content if it doesn’t correlate with the struggles of those businesses that are being targeted. Equally, Sales teams could seem to be cold calling when the personalisation and research has not been done properly on each key decision-maker.
For most, businesses will require a mix of both Inbound Marketing and ABM to maximise their potential revenue. Businesses must spread their net as far and wide as possible to catch as many minnows as possible, whilst still casting a fishing rod with the favourite bait of photo-worthy flounders, for the best chance to bring in the biggest haul.
Pros and Cons of ABM
We’re not here to deride ABM; there certainly are some scenarios where it is logical to use this methodology. The biggest of which being that it greatly increases the chances of landing big contracts, through the hands-on approach it takes to the relationship with decision makers, fostering strong connections that stop the target from considering other competitors. However, by focussing so much on a limited number of targets (which is a scary proposition in itself), there is a higher risk of reduced revenue if those targets take longer than expected to ‘take the bait’. Also, there is still no guarantee that the investment of time and effort in the client will eventually end up in a sale and, with a limited number of alternatives, recovery is a much steeper uphill battle.
In summary, agencies and marketers don’t have to choose one or the other. The two can work together to provide you with regular, small wins while working towards landing those big contracts. However, a significant amount of time in an ABM strategy is spent customising content to the decision-makers in the target business and this only proves successful if you have strong and plentiful content, and content is already king when considering the inbound strategy. For most, a combined approach, using inbound and ABM with an 80/20 split, is logical. Whilst 80% seems a lot of time to be spent looking for small wins, but the frequency requires it and the content produced can still be repurposed for the other 20%. It also means you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.