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We’re all being asked to deliver bigger, better results with less investment. A friend of mine who’s a marketing leader at a B2B fintech told me last week that her company slashed her budget by 40% — but kept targets the same. Sadly, she’s not alone. As Gartner’s 2023 CMO Spend and Strategy Survey outlines, 71% of CMOs said they lack the budget to fully execute their strategy this year. Three-quarters say they face “increased pressure to do more with less.” This trend is set to continue.
Other pain points include proving that the marketing function directly contributes to revenue growth, creating better leads, having a better view of the customer across the business and increasing conversion. Sound familiar? I see this every day with the clients we work with, and the struggle is real — which is why we’re going down a different path.
It’s all about creating target account acquisition strategies that align marketing and revenue teams around customer experience and growth — increasing conversion, retention and expansion (while reducing budget wastage). We call this blended ABM (account-based marketing), and it sits at the heart of our proprietary AMPLIFY process.
Why? If you actually want to succeed with less, you must move into a space where you are highly targeted on who you can — and cannot — acquire. This is why we evangelize blended ABM over demand generation. Don’t get me wrong: Demand gen has a relevant place in the marketing mix, but in my view, it’s more reactive to the market instead of intentionally targeting it.
Do any of us have the time and budget these days to be solely reactive instead of proactive? I’d argue no. Let’s be real: 80% of buyers make a decision before talking to your sales team, so your content is mainly used for research only; no one can afford to just educate people. We need to sell to people.
Let’s break it down, starting with target accounts. This entails being entirely clear on your most successful ideal customer profile (ICP) and personas — as well as defining your buyer’s journey so you know exactly who your target customer is, what type of company they work for, what their pain points are, who makes up their buying committee and how they buy.
By sticking with the types of companies with which you have short sales cycles, long business relationships and consistently upsell and expand revenue, you’ll know exactly who to target with a blended ABM approach — and your sales and leadership teams will come to love the strategy. It’s about being bold, confident and deliberate about your target accounts and why you’re targeting them. And for the record, that pool of accounts could still be 1,000 or 2,000 strong.
Related: The Rise of Account-Based Marketing
Research and intent data
Additionally and within those accounts, you’ll likely need multiple micro strategies, for example, a compete strategy. How do you identify the good-fit clients currently utilizing your competition? How do you pinpoint potential customers currently looking at your business rivals?
Simple: research and intent data! If you start layering intent data on top of this, you can start to see exactly when someone is in the market to buy from a competitor or seeking a product/service like you offer and target them accordingly. With blended ABM, you enroll them in a 1:Many approach, moving them up to 1:Few or 1:1 if difficult to close and worth the time and effort.
Only focusing on high-probability target accounts increases the likelihood of conversion. There are, of course, a swathe of buying committees currently sitting on their hands; when you can accurately convey your value and how you transform the buyer’s world, you have a greater likelihood of success with activating those too.
For successful blended ABM, you need a single view of the customer. Align your marketing, sales and customer success teams around a CRM like HubSpot and start sharing vital information on customers, targets, companies and content that’s working (or not).
With blended ABM as the basis of your strategy and the enhanced knowledge of your customer achieved through the above, you’re using far more focused content and ads to only go after those target accounts in the market — especially as only 6% of your target audience is in the market at any one time. This in turn drives higher quality SQLs and clearer campaign ROI, meaning your goals across sales and marketing become aligned, too — and the latter can unequivocally prove its contribution to revenue.
And as Ewan McIntyre, Chief of Research and VP Analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice said in the aforementioned study, “CMOs need to become a new type of enterprise leader…assuming a more business-focused role that pivots into a period of investing for profitability. Those that carry on status-quo will face significant challenges.”
This path is for marketing leaders who are pragmatic, if not a little brave — and definitely tired of the status quo. Your leaders will need a bit of education, but the outcomes are clear: higher profitability, better alignment and customer experience. What’s not to love?