The landscape has shifted quickly for almost all businesses over recent weeks. It’s not just working from home that has changed, but the way we support our customers and how we run our companies, for many, is profoundly different.
Marketing and sales is no exception. Teams have been furloughed, budgets have been scrutinised and the role of marketing has evolved. I’ve written extensively about Account Based Marketing (ABM) for the past 12 months, and believe that the marketing methodology is more relevant during these times, than ever before. Here’s why...
#1 Every penny spent needs to be accounted for
Attribution and the need to justify all forms of marketing spend has been hot on the agenda for quite some time. As soon as the lockdown came into force in the UK, marketing budgets were heavily scrutinised and a MarketingWeek survey suggested that 50% of marketing budgets were cut.
The advice for marketers, on the whole, has been two-fold:
- Invest in brand marketing so you’re in the best position possible for the recovery
- Spend your money on activity that generates a proven, tangible return
One of the benefits of ABM is its ability to more easily demonstrate a return on marketing investment. This is because your activity has clear goals and is targeted to a specific list of target accounts.
- New to ABM? Learn more about what it is and its six step process, here.
Therefore, it’s much easier to determine if your efforts have been successful, rather than analysing brand awareness and attribution metrics from a more generic pool of metrics. For example, your goal might be to land two new accounts in the finance sector by May 2020. Using the six-step ABM process you’ll have a list of targets and the ultimate outcome will be, did you land two new accounts in that target sector or not? There’s no hiding from the SMART goals set out as part of the ABM process.
#2 Markets have shrunk - making competition even more intense
In many markets, sales and new business opportunities are scarce. Hubspot’s recent benchmark report suggested that new deal creation dropped by as much as 30% compared to pre-COVID levels. Therefore, the need to stand out from the competition and cut through the noise is greater than ever. The defining characteristic of ABM is you create content personalised to the recipient. This means it stands out from the more generic content that is produced for a generic buyer persona, and has more of a chance of getting noticed and read.
#3 You need to focus on markets and clients who remain profitable
Many markets have been heavily hit by the current pandemic, but a lot have also maintained or seen an increase in demand for their products or services. Companies have found the need to pivot and focus on areas that provide the most opportunity during the coming weeks, months and in the ‘new normal’.
ABM allows your marketing to be particularly focused with your activity as the process means that you:
- Identifying market opportunities (and challenge them)
- Create a list of target accounts
- Research the specific needs, challenges and jobs-to-be-done for this market
- Create content personalised to your selected targets, and
- Refine and scale your strategy as it’s executed
By following the ABM process you can focus your efforts and efficiently use your marketing and sales resources to target markets that have the most potential.
#4 Retaining your existing customers is more important than ever
A leaky bucket is bad at any time, but especially when new business opportunities are less readily available and the future is uncertain. Therefore, it’s important you’re doubling down on providing value to your existing customers, to ensure they’re well supported through the current situation and you retain them as a customer.
Account Based Marketing is not just for winning new customers. A popular way to use ABM is with a ‘protect and grow’ strategy where you focus your marketing and sales efforts on retaining, renewing or growing existing customer accounts. Using the ABM methodology is a good way to ensure you’re thinking deeply about your key accounts needs, challenges and jobs-to-be-done and your marketing, sales and service efforts are personalised to them. In general, it helps to ensure you’re focusing and prioritising profitable customers, rather than ignoring them to chase new business opportunities - risking losing them at a crucial time.
#5 Use this time to improve your marketing
COVID-19 has put many businesses under immense pressure. What’s important is how we respond to the challenges we all face and what we do to ensure we come out the other end stronger. I believe that no matter what you’re going through, this could be the defining moment for your business - and this includes your marketing department.
ABM has been growing in popularity in recent years as it regularly outperforms more traditional marketing methods in the modern working environment. An estimated two million blog posts are published each day, meaning that you need to ensure yours is better and provides significant value to your audience in order to stand out.
87% of marketers report that ABM has a higher ROI than traditional lead generation.
Businesses and marketing departments can use this time to assess their overall marketing strategy and make the required changes to get them in the best position for success moving forwards.
We often hear that businesses understand the benefits of Account Based Marketing, but don’t know where to start? If that’s you, you might enjoy my article - How to kick off the Account Based Marketing process. If you want to learn more about how we support businesses to implement ABM programmes, please get in touch.