There have been several good articles lately on my favorite marketing topics of ABM, insight, and authenticity. I had my first taste of account based marketing (ABM) success more than a decade ago, building dashboards from insight gleaned from company reports and original research and working with our sales teams to drive opportunities. And I have been hooked every since on the notion that this is a great way to deliver results for both marketing and sales teams.
What we lacked back then though, were the mechanisms to connect with prospects and nurture relationships with customers in the ways we can now through LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like. But as much as these influencer platforms have opened up the opportunity for authentic connections, they have also ushered in the “age of the customer,” as Marketo’s Chief Growth Officer Jill Rowley calls it, and changed the dynamic between buyers and sellers forever.
With customers’ ability to ignore traditional modes of connection like email and phone calls and an increasing proclivity to ignore direct outreach on social media, it is more difficult than ever to make the connection and influence decision making. In fact, Rowley recently shared that in just two years time, 85 percent of customers will manage their relationships with brands without interacting with a human being at all.
This takes the autonomy of the buyer’s journey to a whole new level and also brings us back to ABM. Finally, it seems, ABM is having its moment; it has shed its buzzwordy reputation and is taking its rightful place as valuable part of the marketer’s playbook. When Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase, spoke at the annual ABM Innovation Summit, he attributed this maturation to the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but I see it a little bit differently.
While I understand his point that AI is enabling organizations to take ABM from a few accounts to many, we don’t need to go to AI to get the insight that is needed to create targeted and meaningful content that generates engagement on LinkedIn and Twitter. Beyond knowing their intended audience, what marketers do need to deliver on the promise of ABM are meaningful and engaging stories that share their value proposition without the heavy sell of blog posts and the dry tedium of whitepapers. What they also need are venues to share these stories and ways to capture insight about who engaged with their content.
What lies in the insight is not only confirmation of reaching an intended audience, but also uncovering opportunities that you might not have known existed. While your sales team knows who it wants to engage with, not knowing who wants to engage with them is a real missed opportunity.
It all comes back down the buyer’s journey in an age where the balance of power resides with the customer. If prospects and customers are most of the way through their decision making process before they reach out and if the trend is towards completing transactions with minimal human interaction, then being able to shine a light on who’s organically interested in what you have to sell is invaluable, right?
In case you thought I’d forgotten about the third thing mentioned in the title – authenticity — this is exactly where it matters. Many organizations look at ABM as another way to broadcast a message. But by putting insight at the center and using it to listen as much as to see where the message resonates, you can uncover even more opportunities to build your customer base and grow your organization’s share of wallet.