Account-Based Marketing – Dating at Scale

  |  March 11, 2014   |  Comments

One of the biggest waves passing through B2B digital marketing right now is account-based marketing (ABM). At its core, ABM means building a list of specific companies based on a predetermined set of criteria and then targeting your marketing efforts to these companies.

One of the biggest waves passing through B2B digital marketing right now is account-based marketing (ABM). At its core, ABM means building a list of specific companies based on a predetermined set of criteria - usually based on firmographic attributes such as industry, revenue, or geography - and then targeting your marketing efforts to these companies. At its best, ABM is woven into the new Company Buying Journey approach that focuses on understanding and meeting your customers' needs in every phase of their relationship with you. Easy to say, hard to do well.

So, let's break this down with an analogy. I think ABM is like dating at scale.

How do you date at scale? As a marketer (not as Charlie Sheen):

1. Unfortunately, your ideal "date" doesn't know you exist. Same in the world of ABM - most if not all of your target audience doesn't know you have a solution to their specific problem and thus are not actively searching for your products and services (search plays a role, but not as large a role early in the Company Buying Journey). Thus, a significant pillar of your ABM approach has to incorporate creating demand, typically with hyper-targeted display. Bizo happens to be one of the best in the business, allowing you to target not only specific accounts but specific roles within those accounts. Hyper-targeted efficient display "makes the first introduction" and beings the conversation.

2. When asking for a date, know the precise pick-up line. " you-z doin'?" may work at the Jersey Shore, but not for the rest of us. Speak to your audience directly. First, deliver a horizontal message in the ad copy, addressing the key influencer's role and how you will help to solve a specific problem they face. Then, deliver a specific vertical experience when they click on the ad: "Someone in your role and in the same industry used our solution to solve this problem."

3. Don't ask for the first date at Hello. We all know sales would love more "demo" or "schedule a trial" leads today. Yet, if you convert "high-value interactions" too early, you will significantly reduce the probability of that lead turning into a sale. Before you ask for the high-value interaction, you must establish trust with thought leadership, define the problem you are helping your prospect to solve, and the then covey the possible options to solve that problem. This also brings you higher-quality leads - the prospect now knows what they need, how you can help, and how you're different from your competitors.

4. Win over the BFF. Friends influence dating, and the same happens in the B2B buying journey. Make it insanely easy to empower your targeted influencer to send uber-relevant content to SR influencers early in the company buying journey - like a chief financial officer (CFO) or a chief information officer (CIO). This early influence will help to secure a thumbs-up when asking for organizational commitment. Don't wait until the end of the Company Buying Journey to involve SR decision makers - make them think it was their idea to begin with.

5. Commitment is a risky business. We all know the perils of being in a bad relationship. Well, it can be worse in the business world. One bad "enterprise purchase" can cost you your job. Leverage social proof persuasion to reduce risk and secure trust. Again, that message of, "Someone in your role, in your industry, with the same problem found our solution to deliver this specific outcome" builds confidence in the decision-making process. People trust people, not so much companies or products.

6. When dating goes well, it's like a beautiful salsa. Dancing, being in lock step with your partner, always produces better results. Same in the business world - aligning sales and marketing to seamlessly work with a prospect significantly increases your chances of a sale. Not to mention the alignment of online-to-offline, with all the events you are likely producing or attending, leveraging foot to Web and Web to foot effectively will always produce better results - especially in combination with marketing automation and lead nurturing.

Good luck dating at scale! If you'd like a few more in-depth resources, Sirius Decisions has a strong POV on ABM, and there is more on the Company Buying Journey at

Image via Shutterstock.


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Thad Kahlow

Thad Kahlow is the CEO of BusinessOnline and is responsible for the entrepreneurial leadership of all operations. His visionary leadership style has helped propel the company into the online marketing spotlight, making BusinessOnline one of the nation's leading digital agencies. He focuses on the alignment of business goals and customer needs so our clients can make business decisions guided by information that matters. Thad's "roll-up-the-sleeves and get it done" attitude coupled with a commitment to client relationships allows him to effectively direct the agency to support large engagements with sophisticated, global clients.

Thad is considered an authority on online marketing. He has presented at numerous industry and executive conferences including the DMA, HTMA, AMT, and Online Marketing Summit, is published in leading trade and business publications like iMedia, ERA, and B2B Magazine, and was one of the original founding members of the SEMPO institute.

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