How to marry ABM with revenue driving events?

Many times when Marketing is turning to Account Based Marketing the driver is marketing automation with a focus on inbound digital marketing

Main reason is to scale ABM activities to more accounts to increase the top-funnel by using marketing automation and other MarTech tools. What it means is that they build online personas and tailored their online messaging and activities to these personas during the online buyer journeyOf course a big step forward compared to just trying to reach as many people as possible. It will improve the top-funnel and sometimes mid-funnel as well. But what about the bottom-funnel, where we need conversion to deals and revenue?

Why REM is a cornerstone of your ABM?

The enormous amount of MarTech tools has led to overwhelming digital marketing channels for customers, who have become inundated with emails, eBooks, and social ads. It’s increasingly difficult for organizations to create online marketing campaigns that stand out. The answer is in personalization, but the online personalization is rapidly becoming a mandatory commodity. As a result, more and more organizations are turning to in-person marketing events to grab the attention of their audience and drive business results. That is where revenue event marketing (REM) comes in.

Revenue event marketing is a strategy that focuses on driving the business metrics that matter-the ones that ultimately prove the impact events can have on a company’s bottom line. Revenue event marketing sets revenue and pipeline as goals, instead of lead generation.

Why ABM is the approach for revenue driving events?

A study, by Hank Bames and Tiffani Bova from Gartner, about the marketing activities that most influence the purchasing decisions of B2B customers, showed that the top three most influential activities are: Direct interactions with the provider, References and Life Events.

In other words, when events leverage customer advocacy and references, they combine the three most influential B2B marketing activities into one powerful touch point.

Then we are talking about revenue driving events – for pipeline creation and acceleration – instead of events focused on lead generation.

Look now at the ABM strategy. A successful ABM strategy requires that you take the following steps:

* Select your target accounts – The goal of this is to align your sales and marketing efforts by focusing on key accounts that are most likely to drive big revenue.
* Discover the proper influencers of and contacts within your target accounts – More coverage and engagement at your target accounts will help you identify buying centers and where to get in.
* Develop account insights – Research about each account and stakeholder so you can deliver personalized and relevant touches.
* Generate account relevant messages and content – Creating the right content and messaging based on your account insights are key for the right conversations.
* Deliver account specific interactions – Decide how, when and what is going to be the best to deliver your messages.
* Orchestrate account based plays – Synchronize your team’s interactions into coordinated plays that align to account plans and goals.

These steps are also necessary to create successful revenue-generating events. So a lot of the hard work and coordination among internal teams, to ensure that the three most influential marketing activities – direct interactions, references and events – come together at your revenue driving events, are part of your ABM. You just need to set up the logistics of an event to reap the rewards.

How revenue driving events strengthen your ABM?

There are many types of revenue driving events. They range from 121 executive meetings to intimate C-level dinners to large industry conferences – and even though they range in size and format, revenue-driving B2B events typically share several common characteristics that are directly related to an account based approach:

– Joint effort of multiple internal teams, especially sales and marketing, to make the event successful
– A clear set of objectives are defined and discussed (Is the purpose of the event to position a solution, set follow-up meetings, arrange specific engagements, drive awareness, or something else?)
– The list of targeted contacts that includes both selected customers and targeted prospects.
– Specific account and stakeholder mapping to identify who needs to connect with the different attendees.
– The events provide useful, relevant content and discussion options, whether that takes the form of a keynote, roundtable, expert session about the latest industry research, top-notch networking opportunities with other C-level executives, interactive and engaging experiential activities, and more
– The event provides time for networking, peer-to-peer and between key players of your organization and targeted attendees
– The post-event follow-up is in time, personalized and contextualized

These revenue driving events are the perfect platform for delivering account-specific interactions and orchestrating account based plays.

For example an account-based play for a conference might involve your CIO hosting an executive dinner table before a conference with specific CIO’s from your ABM accounts. You could also create such ABM plays for an executive round table or expert session during the conference.

These type of plays will not only help to align your sales and marketing teams, but will also allow your CIO or key players to build better relationships with key contacts within target accounts not only during but also before and after your event !

Conclusion: ABM and REM = a happy marriage!

To further marry your ABM strategy with REM, you should keep core tenets of account based marketing in mind while planning your events. The other way around you should use REM in your ABM strategy to help aligning internal teams, build better personal relationships and drive business with your target accounts.

Do you want to drive more revenue out of your life events with ABM and REM?

Feel free to contact me and together we will find out how you can best marry your ABM and REM strategy to further develop your account-specific relationships and drive business results for your company!

ABM requires a new mindset, not just a technology overhaul

Why do CMO’s put ABM as their number one priority for B2B Marketing nowadays?

Recently I was at the diner after the annual B2B summit in a nice place called Castle “de Wittenburg” in Wassenaar, on invitation of the organizer of the event, Shimon Ben Ayoun of SpotONvision.While enjoying excellent food with about 50 CMO’s and other Marketing executives we discussed one of themes of the B2B summit: Account Based Marketing (ABM).

ABM is hot and trending. It attracts a lot of attention within the marketing community these days.
The latest survey amongst top CMO’s presented during the diner clearly showed ABM as priority number One for them.
Why do CMO’s put ABM as their number one priority for B2B marketing nowadays?

ABM is not new it already started many years ago. In 2003 ITSMA was the first who pioneered the concept of ABM. Why did it take that long before ABM became booming?

ABM: marketing for only very few accounts?

In the early days ABM was focused on large accounts with a one to one approach. This approach set high requirements on selecting the right account, getting really into the insights of that account and engaging with the right contacts in the account.
This was and still is not common practice for most marketeers.
Most marketeers prefer campaigns, page views, click through and other typical “traditional” marketing activities and outcomes. They consider job done when the lead was thrown over the wall to sales.
Even more important for ABM is the alignment with sales for the specific account(s), but in many organizations there is still a gap between marketing and sales. Marketing has to show sales how to align and cooperate to close the gap. And there is a risk that sales say: what the hell is marketing interfering with, as they could see ABM as a kind of account management. Not an easy job to really cooperate with sales and vice versa.
On top of this ABM means a serious investment in terms of time, resources and budget and for ‘only’ one account. And in most cases it will take more than a year to get some real benefits and big deals.
Last but not least in many cases there is a lack of executive sponsorship due to lack of understanding ABM and what the impact of ABM is especially for the big deals..
So no surprise it is not always easy to start ABM and even more to continue………in the short term it cost too much and shows too less results.

What has changed to make ABM the big promise?

For some years ABM was a bit of a hidden secret to the happy few B2B marketeers who were able to close the gap with sales and execute tailor made programs on well selected accounts to make a big difference for the big deals. There are very successful examples and there are strong promoters like ITSMA and SiriusDecisions who paved the way of ABM.
That helps, but what really causes a breakthrough was the technology.
Technology created a revolution in marketing automation as in many other areas.
The technology opens a customized ‘ABM” approach for almost every “specific” target group by marketing automation. With this programmatic development ABM become much more attractive for most marketeers and closer to what they are used to do. It will limit cost, risks and investments per account and make ABM scalable to larger target set of accounts.
No surprise that almost every self-respecting marketing automation vendor embrace ABM and a lot more rumor around ABM was created by these marketing automation vendors.

Combining the success of the one to one approach for the big deals (when the right account has been selected!) with the scaling and programmatic approach to address larger set of accounts, ABM is much closer to the heart of B2B marketeers,
So now the big promise of ABM is within reach of the B2B marketing community: Target the right prospects or customers leading to better leads and higher conversion in less time.
But is that all and How can you realise the promise of ABM?
You may wish it’s that easy to just scale ABM approach by applying the right marketing automation.

Key for successful ABM is not the tooling, but the mindset and methodology.
Don’t start at the wrong side with marketing automation, how promising the technology sounds

Marketing automation does not make ABM easier, of course it can help to scale but after your organization and people are ready to scale. First a different mindset should be adopted: alignment between Sales and Marketing, flipping the funnel, outside-in instead of inside-out.
It is not about filling the funnel, it’s about engaging with customer during their lifetimes !

I will mention three key elements to realize the promise of ABM:

1. Sales and marketing need to work together, adopt this new mindset and approach.

Together with sales you need to walk over new ways:
When you focus on new accounts / prospects treat them like customers. In other words go with them a full customer journey and not just focus on getting the (first) deal.
Keep the entire buying committee within the account in mind.
Clearly, a multi-threaded approach has been shown to boost results. The key is to identify and engage the right people in a relevant way at the right time.

2. The structure to success:

In reality you need to align marketing with sales to make ABM work. You also need to re-evaluate – and likely retool – your existing sales and marketing process.
A good solution could be to assign business development reps between sales and marketing.
These reps should:
– own the one-to-one relationships at target account
– engage through personalized outreach
– orchestrate the engagement for sales reps
– own the reporting dashboard (see below)
– get commitment for long term benefits, but also show impact with short term quick wins to build confidence.

3. Important is to create reporting dashboard that gives you the view on the progress, but also shows the impact of ABM during the whole journey with the account(s) for your organization.

Show and share the success. Therefore you need to have clear metrics in place that show the outcomes of ABM. We are not talking about traditional marketing metrics, but metrics that are closely aligned with the business/sales targets for the accounts in terms of relationship, engagement, funnel, revenue, but also customer loyalty and satisfaction.

You see none of this is about marketing automation. First start small (1 or 2 carefully selected accounts) with new mindset amongst sales and marketing.
Build your own experience with the right ABM mindset and methodology. You are much better equipped to know what exactly you need in terms of marketing automation.

I’m sure if you then apply marketing automation when you scale up to many more contacts in one account, more accounts e.g. vertical approach and programmatic to larger groups, ABM will be a huge success for your organization.
In this way you really make the promise of ABM happen.

Have a great journey!

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  1. Pipeline Growth,
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