by Julie Schwartz, ITSMA
Everyone is talking about Account Based Marketing (ABM). Trouble is, I can’t figure out what they are talking about!
What exactly is Account Based Marketing? This used to be an easy question to answer. However, yesterday I listened to a webinar and discovered that there are at least two completely different definitions of Account Based Marketing currently in use. I respectfully propose that the newcomers, who are focused on marketing automated demand generation and lead management, come up with a different term. This solution will put an end to the confusion. Some of us were here first and we call “dibs.”
ITSMA, the Early Pioneer of a Breakthrough Concept
ITSMA defines Account Based Marketing as:
“Treating individual accounts as a market in their own right”
A structured approach to developing and implementing highly-customized marketing campaigns to markets of one, i.e., accounts, partners, or prospects. This approach involves marketing and sales taking a close look at key business issues facing the target, mapping them to individuals, and tailoring campaigns to address those issues.
Account Based Marketing is a way to build stronger relationships with your most valued customers and prospects with highly targeted marketing interactions that demonstrate your in-depth understanding of their business and technology issues. It’s a way to increase your customer’s awareness of the total value you offer to heighten their interest in you.
Marketing Automation Players Later Adopt the Term and Change the Meaning
Here are some definitions I found using Google:
Demandbase: Account based marketing is a practice through which B2B marketers can align themselves to their sales counterparts and drive more revenue by focusing their marketing & communications efforts on the ACCOUNTS that are most likely to become customers. It turns out that your future customers look very much like your existing ones, so when you understand the attributes of your customer accounts, you can create a targeted account list which is far more likely to buy…Sales have always sold to accounts, and now the marketing technology and data evolution allows marketers to do the same.
Marketo: Account based marketing is selling to multiple decision makers and influencers at a company selected as a key prospect as one single account, instead of standalone purchasers. [Yikes! What happened to the movement spawned by Jonathan Becher’s now-famous quote, “People buy products and services, not big glass buildings”?]
Funnelholic: Outbound marketing
These definitions miss the most important point of ABM: ABM is not a marketing or sales tactic or even a set of tactics; it is a strategy for providers to build long-term influence and trusted advisor status with the company’s top accounts. ABM requires a new level of partnership between sales and marketing that starts with alignment and then goes much further.
It is Time to Standardize
Marketing automation platform providers and demand generation consultants love to call what they do Account Based Marketing. I don’t blame them; it’s a great term! But appending third-party information to your lead data is not Account Based Marketing.
I propose that the marketing automation and demand generation folks end the confusion by coining a new term that accurately describes what they are doing: funnel filling marketing activities.
Let the companies who are using customer-centric, one-to-one and one-to-few marketing and sales techniques practice Account Based Marketing.