As marketing organizations move upstream to align with their company’s business strategy, they find that new processes and tools are needed to support their efforts.
Most companies operate in Acquisition-Mode, where the primary goal is to acquire new customers. In this mode, marketing and sales teams work in silos, with little collaboration. The process is linear: awareness, interest, desire, and action. The focus is on top-of-the-funnel activity, such as generating leads and driving traffic to the website. Companies serious about growth need to shift to what we will call Adoption-Mode.
Adoption-Mode’s primary goal is to increase the adoption of your product or service within your existing customer base. To do this, you need to land and expand—land one initiative at a time, starting at the team level and then expanding outward. The process is iterative: identify a need, develop a solution, test and learn, and scale. The focus is on bottom-of-the-funnel activity, such as activation and retention.
Landing and expanding require close collaboration between marketing and sales. Marketing creates demand by generating awareness and interest in the solution. Sales close deals and drive adoption by taking the solution to market. Together, they create an integrated go-to-market motion that delivers results. The key to success is starting small—identifying a single pain point or use case and then developing a solution that meets that need. Once you have an answer, you can scale it to other teams and customers. The benefits of Adoption-Mode are clear: higher customer lifetime value, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and more predictable revenue growth.
In particular, they are turning to account-based marketing (ABM) to help them more effectively target, engage, and convert their chosen market segments. ABM is a holistic approach to marketing that starts with a clearly defined target market and proceeds through the entire funnel, from awareness to engagement to conversion. Because it requires a deep understanding of both the buyer and the seller, ABM is often seen as a more complex and resource-intensive approach than traditional marketing efforts. However, its practitioners believe that the benefits—higher quality leads, increased conversion rates, and improved customer relationships—justify the extra effort.
ABM has roots in B2B sales, where account managers have long been responsible for managing large, complex accounts. In recent years, however, ABM has been adopted by marketers in a variety of industries as a way to better align their activities with the needs of their customers. This shift upstream has been driven by several factors, including the rise of digital marketing channels and tools, the proliferation of data, and the growing importance of customer experience.
As ABM moves from being a niche strategy employed by early adopters to a mainstream marketing approach, there is an increasing need for best practices and thought leadership to implement it successfully. This is especially true in B2B, where ABM is still relatively new. The good news is that many resources help marketers get started with ABM, including books, blog posts, webinars, and conferences.
One of the best resources on ABM is Bev Burgess and her two books:
While there is no silver bullet for success in marketing campaigns, account-based marketing is a powerful tool for companies looking to align their marketing efforts more closely with their business strategy. As ABM moves from early adopter status to a more mainstream marketing approach, successfully implementing it will position itself well in the marketplace.