The Major Flaw All Experienced Marketers Have and Why It’s Limiting Your Growth


I’ve noticed that experienced marketers all have the same flaw: They’re good at marketing.

That may seem counterintuitive, but stick with me for a second.

You see, what’s considered a strength for most marketers – knowing what works and what doesn’t – can also be a huge weakness when it comes to trying something new. Because seasoned marketers have seen so much, they almost always assume they’ve seen it all.

But when it comes to reaping the rewards of new marketing tactics, this dismissive approach has the potential to put veteran marketers in last place. 

Something similar happens when all your friends are talking about the latest hit movie (*cough* Black Panther). Sure, the movie might actually be great (and it was), but because everyone over-hypes it, there are some of us that instinctively want to stand out from the crowd and question whether it’s really as good as people say it is.

This same phenomenon is happening right now with veteran marketers and ABM.

Seasoned marketers have spent years studying, learning, and using demand-gen best practices, and when a new marketing tactic like ABM comes around, they sometimes dismiss it as “more marketing hype”.

While that’s a huge mistake, it’s not uncommon.

There are a ton of myths out there about account-based marketing. I hear them whenever I ask marketers why they haven’t implemented a full strategy. Their response is usually one of the following:

“ABM just takes up so many resources, we would never get a positive ROI.”

“We don’t have a big enough team to execute something like ABM.”

“We can’t just throw out our inbound marketing to try something that may or may not work.”

These three are perhaps the biggest misconceptions about ABM: That it’s expensive, it requires a big team, or it replaces your inbound or conversational marketing strategy. But none of these are true.

That’s why, if nothing else, I’m here to set one thing straight today:

ABM is a complement to your marketing strategy, not a replacement for what you’re already doing.

It’s best to think of ABM as a tactic. A tactic that, if executed correctly, can bring huge amounts of untapped revenue to your business. In fact, according to a survey by SiriusDecisions, organizations with an ABM strategy in place had an average of 200% pipeline growth and a 20% increase in deal size.

My advice to marketers?

Rather than dismissing ABM, it’s better to give it a calculated try and see what happens. To help you get started, here’s how I recommend adding ABM to your current marketing strategy.

Understand the Difference Between ABM and Every Other Marketing Tactic

The best way to understand the difference between inbound marketing and account-based marketing is to take a look at the wonderful world of commercial fishing. In this context, inbound marketing is a lot like something called trawling–this is when a boat throws out a huge net–sometimes miles and miles long–and drags it across the sea to catch fish.

This method is highly effective (which is why most commercial fishers still use it).

But with trawling, you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get.

Sometimes you catch what you want, sometimes you catch what you don’t want–and sometimes, you don’t catch anything at all. Inbound marketing is a lot like this, too, and marketers have started to take note.

Account-based marketing, on the other hand, can be thought of as pole-and-line fishing. With this method you go out to a very specific spot in the ocean and set out multiple fishing lines. This method doesn’t catch the same quantities of fish, but it’s the preferred method for catching those juicy, high-quality fish that sell for hundreds of dollars at the world’s top sushi restaurants.

But in the world of commercial fishing, most fisheries don’t just choose one method or the other for catching fish. They use both.

And that’s a lesson that can be applied to marketing and lead gen: While it’s tempting to keep on fishing using the old method of casting a wide net, it’s not sustainable when everyone is fishing in the same place.

Get Started With Your First ABM Campaign

Moving away from metaphors and back into the land of marketing, you might be wondering what it takes to implement an ABM strategy in your organization. Well, I’ve got you covered. Here’s how we divide up our ABM efforts at RollWorks:

Before you begin building your ABM campaigns you should decide which target accounts fall into which tiers. Most marketers already have a good sense of how to tier their accounts, but putting all the information in one place can be very helpful, like in the example provided above.

Next, you want to decide how much to budget for spend depending on the tier. We recommend starting out with tier 2: These accounts are big enough that you’ll have a good amount of budget to spend, but they’re not so big that you’ll get stuck in a bunch of red tape trying to sell into the organization.

While it’s tempting to go after tier 1 accounts right away, keep in mind that since they’re your top enterprise-level accounts, it’ll require much more of an investment of time upfront to figure out who you want to target. If you’re targeting VP’s or managers, chances are high that a tier 1 account will have multiple departments, with multiple VP’s and multiple managers–and that can really slow down the process of getting your ABM programs off the ground.

Test and tweak. Your first foray into an ABM campaign is all about testing and tweaking to see what works. If you’re an experienced marketer, chances are you’ll have some skills and experiences that’ll apply here too, like measuring CPMs, CPAs, CPCs, and so forth. But be careful–you may also have some preconceived ideas that could be misleading in your ABM set-up.

One common mistake? Comparing ABM CPC (cost per click) to traditional lead-gen campaign CPCs.

Costs per click for account-based strategies tend to be higher because you’re trying to get a particular person to click on your ad rather than just a broad set of prospects. To reach that particular person you’re going to have to pay a higher CPC since you need to outbid any of the other advertisers who are vying for their attention.

As a result your ABM cost per click will be higher, but since you’ve already vetted that person is a good fit for your product, you’ll know you’re bringing the exact person you want to your website.

When It Comes to ABM, Personalization Is Everything

Personalized content is at the heart of an effective ABM strategy. When you personalize your marketing for ABM, you let your target accounts know you’ve taken the time to understand their business, and want to develop a relationship with them.

Many marketers leverage personalization through display and other programmatic because it’s one of the easiest ways to start with ABM.

Here’s an example of customizable banner ad templates we made at Rollworks:

Once you’ve brought people to your website, chat tools can help you further personalize outgoing messages when key accounts land on your website. This instantly builds rapport with your target account, and makes it easier to get them into the sales process. You can even share relevant content by vertical through a quick conversation using a chat bot right on your site.

The personalized element of ABM demonstrates to prospects that you’re thinking specifically about their business. Compared with a spray-and-pray approach to ads, this is a highly focused and targeted tactic that drives results.

Breaking ABM Campaigns Into 3 Simple Components

Setting up ABM campaigns is simpler than most marketers realize. Especially when you break it down into three simple components:

  1. Audience. The target recipients of your marketing campaign.
  2. Offer. The personalized content you’ll provide in exchange for their engagement.
  3. Channel. The means through which you’ll reach them.

Here’s the handy ABM chart we came up with:

And here’s how we used it:

Based on the target audience we pick and the personalized offer we want to deliver, we’ll choose a few channels that we think would be good vehicles for delivering that offer.

So, for our next campaign we decided to target North America Prospects with a Free Trial that we would deliver through email and display advertising.

We then had each of our sales reps send out an outbound email to the people on our target account list.

After our target prospect clicked on the link in the email they would get hyper re-targeted across multiple networks and devices with an ad like the one below.

These ads would be displayed frequently for 24 hours to make sure that the prospect noticed them in multiple locations around the web. Then, once the prospect clicked the ad, they’d be taken to a custom landing page where they could book a meeting with Dale.

This approach takes a little bit more work, but not as much as most people think. I can put together a campaign like this in a couple of weeks, and then reuse it for multiple target accounts in the future.

This is a customized approach at scale, and it’s what account-based marketing is all about.

Here Are A Few Resources to Help You Get Started

Account-based marketing isn’t here to replace your current marketing strategy, it’s here to complement it. Whether you’re currently practicing conversational marketing, inbound, or a blend of both, ABM is an addition that can help you hook those high value accounts that would otherwise be illusive.

ABM not only helps marketers reach the exact people they’re looking for, but it also allows marketing to support sales in providing “surround-sound” for those big deals that they’re already going after.

So, start small, build on your successes, and track the results of your investment in ABM. I’ve no doubt it’ll be worthwhile.

Bogdan is a Telly award-winning content strategist specializing in multi-channel campaigns. As Content Marketing Manager at RollWorks, Bogdan builds lead gen campaigns, runs webinars, and writes on MarTech for the RollWorks blog. 

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