Jonas van de Poel
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Jonas van de Poel is head of content marketing at Unmuted, an Amsterdam-based growth marketing agency.
For many startups and SMBs, successfully setting up account-based marketing strategies can feel like a pipe dream. Startups still struggling to find product-market fit wouldn’t dream of being able to identify and map out their ideal customer profile (ICP) clearly enough. At the same time, small and midsize businesses often lack the resources to invest in elaborate multitouch-point content marketing strategies.
Smaller businesses and startups usually don’t employ full-fledged marketing teams either, and their sales reps are strapped for time anyway. To them, account-based marketing (ABM) is something reserved for corporations that employ enterprise marketing teams and can fling about big marketing budgets.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and both startups and SMBs can, and should, invest in ABM strategies. With a handful of smart growth tactics and clever tools, ABM strategies don’t have to break the bank to be successful.
Account-based approaches thrive when you amend your mindset and focus on long-term investments and relationship building. One way to do this is by creating a (sense of) community.
There are, however, a few distinctive characteristics your business should probably have before investing in ABM:
Larger than average deal sizes or customer value make ABM much more worthwhile. If you’re working with a long tail business model, this probably isn’t for you.
Businesses with long sales cycles are equally well suited to ABM strategies. The longer the sales cycle, the more important it is to cater to key accounts with personalized content and outreach across multiple channels and at multiple touch points.
Complex buying committees are also susceptible to being marketed to in a hyperpersonalized way. Spray-and-pray marketing won’t do you any good here.
ABM strategies work best when sales, marketing and service are fully aligned. Has your organization bought into the idea of RevOps? Good, ABM might be the way to go.
In short, the points above sketches what might be described as the higher segment of B2B companies. Startups and SMBs that conform to these characteristics would do well to consider the growth tactics we outline below.
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What is ABM? How about ABS? And what’s this ABX business?!
Before we get down to the hands-on approaches and actionable tips for getting started with ABM, let’s look at some definitions to get a clearer picture of what we’re talking about.
Account-based marketing is a business strategy, sometimes also referred to as key account marketing, where businesses focus marketing resources on specific targets (key accounts) in a market.
This is like flipping a traditional inbound marketing funnel upside down. Instead of generating leads, segmenting, activating and then selling to them, ABM takes the opposite approach. You identify specific key accounts, build relationships with these targets, and then sell to your network.
This also means producing highly relevant, highly personalized marketing content for all types of decision-makers along all points of the customer journey.
Image Credits: Unmuted
Account-based sales (ABS)
Account-based selling is a B2B sales model that takes a similar approach and focuses on selling to the same key accounts. Patience is the name of the game here. Instead of trying to get that demo scheduled as quickly as possible, your sales reps will be investing in relationships.
This highly personalized and strategic process builds upon the tailored marketing content we mentioned. Sales and marketing alignment is key to successful execution of account-based sales strategies.
Your marketing and sales teams will benefit from defining and reporting on shared goals and even KPIs.
Account-based experience (ABX)
Account-based revenue generation will work best when you’ve got companywide buy-in from not just sales and marketing departments, but your customer success team too. This helps serve your key accounts a personalized experience during a holistic buying journey that continues post-purchase.