The evolution of the frontal lobe is one of the biggest advances in human history. It’s the right frontal lobe that’s responsible for imagination: “to invent a successful response to the change it has noticed: a new product, a new service, a new strategy...this specialized area is superbly suited to help us adapt to change.”
Now the time has come for B2B marketers to adapt to account-based marketing (ABM). The essential definition of ABM is laser-focused B2B marketing. Identifying and targeting key accounts has always been a best practice, but what’s different today is how improved technology gives marketers the ability to do ABM at scale.
ABM was one of the biggest buzzwords of 2016, it unsurprisingly got lots of hype at Dreamforce this year. But despite the buzz, many B2B marketing organizations haven’t made the shift to account-based strategies, in part due to a lack of imagination.
Marketing has been reduced to an assortment of fragmented tactics — blasting emails, posting tweets, hosting a meetup — with no overarching strategy. Many marketers fail to align all these activities with the goal of developing a full-blown revenue-centric organization.
We’re so guilty. We’re guilty of not thinking about our audience. How many times do you tweet without considering which companies you hope find you on Twitter? Everyone is doing social media, putting stuff out there, having one-off conversations, but there’s no alignment around the overarching goal of the organization — which is to drive new revenue.
The point to all of this is that we must rethink the B2B marketing state of mind. An account-based marketing approach requires an intentional shift in thinking. ABM is a state of mind, not a tactic or set of tools.
I recently asked people in my own company, Terminus, “What’s the one word that comes to mind when you think about ABM?” I also posed this question to a variety of influencers, thought leaders, B2B and marketing practitioners.
Some respondents shared paragraphs brimming with passion for B2B and account-based marketing, which was exciting to read. In the end, three themes emerged from the responses. I categorized them into the following buckets that I best summarize the results:
Category 1 (Newness): Nascent / Emerging / Evolution / Innovative
Category 2 (Unclear): Confusion / Crowded / Complex / Buzzword
Category 3 (Confident): Revolutionary / Movement / Strategic / Focus
What's interesting to me about these buckets is that they also describe human emotions and the stages of maturity of any new category or product. Of course, when something is new (Category 1), we feel things are unclear (Category 2). But when we start learning more about the topic and putting our knowledge in action, we start feeling confident (Category 3). Right?!
I believe that we all need to graduate to Category 3. Marketers should really embrace the idea that account-based marketing — no matter how new it is and how unclear or complex the current market may seem — is truly challenging the status quo.
In short, account-based marketing is a state of mind. Take a step back, pause, and think about what actually matters to drive revenue for your company. Think about the type of companies (accounts) your company wants to do business with. Who are the right stakeholders in those accounts, and how can you effectively target those people with your marketing? The answers to these questions will be the foundation of your account-based marketing strategy.
I’ll close this post with words from the genius himself, Marc Benioff, who wrote in Behind the Cloud:
“Seize the opportunity in front of you. Imagine. Invent. Disrupt. Do good. I know that you must be passionate, unreasonable, and a little bit crazy to follow your own ideas and do things differently. But it’s worth it. Life grows relative to one’s investment in it.”
Ready to make the mindshift to account-based marketing?
Sangram Vajre, co-founder and CMO of Terminus, is a passionate Marketing geek at heart and loves to solve problems, both analytically and creatively. In today's marketing world, when companies need to rapidly adapt to changing buyer-centric communication, Sangram finds comfort in all things technology to keep pace with this challenge. Over the years, Sangram has amassed invaluable experience from his exposure to startups, consulting, and global companies. Most recently, Sangram headed up Marketing at Pardot, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2013. You can follow him on Twitter at @sangramvajre.