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Marketing without ABM is Like the Holidays Without an Ugly Sweater

Jeff Cohen
Director, Content Strategy

It used to be that ugly holiday sweaters were something that showed up as gifts from far-flung relatives, only to be shoved to the back of the sweater drawer, never to be worn. They made an occasional appearance when your elderly aunt arrived for the holidays wearing one and all you could do was cringe.

Today ugly holiday sweaters are everywhere. People have ugly sweater parties where they are required for all guests. People give them as gifts and expect their recipients to wear them.

Account-based marketing is just like that in 2016. Everyone is talking about ABM. Everyone is selling ABM. And everyone is using ABM.

If you are not part of that everyone, but you are thinking of ABM, let's look at it in a bit of detail. You may have been using an ABM approach for the holidays for years. 

Making a List

Since ABM at its core is about marketing to customers who have a higher propensity to buy, it has to start with a list of those customers. Celebrating the holidays is often about giving gifts or throwing parties. These activities begin with making lists of who you want to get presents for and who to invite. You want to start by picking people who will enjoy the presents or who will come to the party. While you may have a good sense of this yourself, it is good to get a second opinion when making this list.

Checking it Twice

Once you make your list, for example of people to send holiday greeting cards too—even the electronic ones—you may check to make sure you have their correct address, or see if they sent you a card last year. A key component of ABM is using firmographic data—derived from a variety of sources or providers—to make sure you have the correct information for all contacts at a company and that it is consistent. This will help you know that you are reaching out to the right people in the right way.

Who’s Naughty?

If someone had a few too many at your holiday party last year—even if they were wearing an ugly sweater—you may want to reconsider inviting them. Likewise, as you are building your key account list, dive deep into the sales notes with your sales team. Some specific contacts at those accounts may need to be approached in a very different manner, based on previous experience. It's not that you don't want to market to people who said no in the past, but you need to take that into account.

Who’s Nice?

We all have friends who we want to have around because they are fun. We want to give them gifts because they are always happy to receive them. We have customers and prospects like this too. These are people who are or become advocates. They recommend our company, products, and services when we ask them and even when we don't. Again, this is critical information to know when marketing to their colleagues at an organization. 

Santa is the Decision Maker

Finally, no matter who compiles the list, what data is overlaid on the contact and account information, and how you used internal or first-party data to inform your activities, there is one decision maker. Buying committees now average more than 6 people, but in the end they are recommenders. Just like Santa can override any naughty or nice data, the committee's opinion can also be ignored. ABM lets you contact individuals at key accounts with an understanding of their roles in the process. Pay special attention to the person at the top with your communications.

If you have a little downtime over the next few weeks, we have our own ugly sweater gift—er, we mean, ebook—for you. Download The Account-Based Marketing Guide for Modern Marketers today for a little reading by the fire.  

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Jon Spenceley Thursday, December 22, 2016
    Couldn't agree more, Jeff! We've been using ABM for a few year's now (more on that here: https://www.vidyard.com/blog/account-based-marketing-weve-learned-along-way/) and it's especially relevant around the holidays. Personalizing content takes time, so making your list and choosing the right key accounts is our top priority. Checking it twice is key too - nothing spoils the festive cheer like spelling someone's name wrong!
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