Account Based Marketing is not a new idea, though it has become trendy in the past five or six years, as companies realized that focusing on large accounts requires a different approach from traditional demand generation. The idea of selecting and targeting high-value prospects and supporting key sales representatives with appropriately customized communications has always had a place in B2B marketing, though it was not referred to as Account Based Marketing until the mid-2000s.
But while today’s ABM is considerably more sophisticated than the programs we implemented decades ago, the lessons we learned from our successes and speed bumps do still apply today.
Lesson 1. Engage top management early and often.
Programs like ABM that focus on large accounts require a different and longer-term commitment from management than traditional demand-gen programs. This is because it usually takes longer to convert large prospects into revenue, which means that the payback (ROI) is hard to identify until you start to write proposals to your leads—something that may not even take place in the first year of the program.
The reasons for the importance of this step are clear: Chief Marketing Officer tenure is down to 40 months—the lowest on record, according to Spencer Stuart’s study released in April 2021. At the same time, Chief Executive Officer tenure is at its highest point (80 months). So, if your program doesn’t have approval at the highest level, it can get caught up in politics. In our experience, Account Based Marketing always pays off, given enough time to calculate its impact.
Marketing to management by publishing your ABM Playbook, making periodic reminders of your progress, and celebrating your wins all contribute to the success of your ABM program.
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