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September 24, 2020
ABM: Focus and Pursue to Win
Liz Brohan

This is part nine of our series Marketing in the Service of Sales, about how marketing professionals can demonstrate to their sales counterparts and the rest of their organization that they bring real value to the table as an equal partner in the marketing-sales relationship.


If you're read most of our series on aligning sales and marketing (and if you haven't, start here), you know we believe that marketing's role in a B2B scenario is revenue generation, not just lead gen. This post demonstrates how to tie all the concepts we've presented together into an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. If you're designing an ABM campaign at scale, you'll find that operations, product development, and customer success will all need to be involved in the program, as you look to feed the flywheel for a great customer experience that drives referrals and repeat sales.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

ABM is a proactive methodology designed to engage a group of target companies by leveraging individualized messaging to multiple contacts within those organizations. This is a multi-touch, ideally omnichannel program, designed to inform, educate, and lead prospects to an action (such as a meeting or demo). It's about getting your message to all of the stakeholders in a prospect organization, even if they've never been to your website before.

One of the great advantages of an ABM program is that it's scalable-any size company can implement a program, and any size company can be targeted. The key is to target your best prospects first; once the framework is developed, new target companies can be easily added.

Getting Started

Start with the end in mind. What's the goal? A meeting? A phone call? A demo? Long-term relationship building? Make sure everyone agrees on what success looks like.

Next, gather your list of target companies and personas. Decide which companies may be in market for your product or service, and where they are in their respective buyers' journeys. There is predictive software that can guide you toward which companies are engaged in buying behavior, along with other services that can help you build out your list.

Be sure to confer with sales, customer success, and other teams to determine:

  • Which products or services to promote (renewals, service contracts, new offerings)
  • Which audiences to target (current customers, new customers within client companies, net new customers)
  • The sequence of communications
  • Channels to use
  • Budget

Make sure to map out pursuit plans and customer journeys, updating them and your target list regularly.

As you discuss channels, think about how to include email, social media, online advertising, telemarketing, and direct mail. This last one could be tricky as many large companies have announced extended work-from-home policies going into mid-2021. As a result, you'll need to make sure any mailer you send actually gets to the intended recipient. The impact of mail on an audience that's predominantly digital can be huge, and well worth the effort and cost.

Creating Compelling Content

Keep in mind that if you're just starting out, you don't need to go all-in with highly personalized content. You can begin by using current content, including credible insights from other sources and materials you can readily repurpose. Beyond that, here are a few simple ideas for new content:

  • Organize campaigns around industry events
  • Power up your content around an industry vertical
  • Run a retargeting campaign around tiered targets that already visit your site

Content like this can help you engage the prospects who are already most likely to be interested in your product or service, while giving them something they want - and a taste of why you're the best company to provide them with more.

It's Worth It

While an ABM campaign will take more time, planning, and resources to execute-to a smaller set of prospects-the focus on tiered prospects with highly relevant information and customization will lead to better results with motivated sales-qualified leads rather than traditional marketing-qualified leads. This positions marketing as a key contributor to revenue and is a win for everyone in the organization.

Sample Multi-Touch Campaign