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Business to Business (B2B)

The Role Of Brand In Account-Based Marketing

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The Role Of Brand In Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a growing, effective tactic in B2B. While brands have been using ABM and account-based selling (ABS) for years, the adoption of account-centric approaches in marketing didn’t take off until about 2015.

With the help of emerging tools like Demandbase, Madison Logic, Bombora, among others, IP-targeting and cookie-targeting has enabled brands to run ABM programs at scale. But that’s not the only reason it’s taken off. There’s also been an increase in the complexity of the buying cycle. Plus, marketers are under more pressure than ever to satisfy changing consumer behaviors, navigate the regulatory pressures especially around data privacy, all while being sensitive to shifts happening inside of a customers organization as well as the disruption effects of automation.

ABM and ABS are related, but not identical, practices.

  • ABS traditionally revolves around the discipline of targeting (and selling to) accounts rather than leads or contacts. ABS has been in place for many years, and brands execute on this by assigning account managers/teams to named accounts (typically existing customers, but also new names) who create detailed plans for those accounts.
  • ABM is the discipline of targeting identified accounts with personalized messaging, content, calls to actions and lead scoring/management rules. ABM also includes a defined process of identifying accounts to target, activating those accounts (through inbound and/or outbound channels), aligning with sales around account plans and measuring the success of the program. Many companies employ ABM programs to complement traditional demand generation efforts, not replace them.

Brand doesn’t often find its way into conversations about ABM and ABS. But it should.

Increasingly, there is a tremendous opportunity to cultivate values alignment between brands and the priorities of the different roles and personalities involved in the B2B buying decision. Complex, large deals require sales teams to have a high degree of situational account awareness and fuse that awareness with their knowledge of the product and solutions they are trying to sell.

Consider this example for a large software brand:

  1. The brand is running a healthy awareness campaign promoting a cloud software product.
  2. A demand gen campaign is running in parallel to take advantage of the air cover delivered by the brand campaign.
  3. As leads progress through the funnel, those who are members of priority accounts are routed into a personalized ABM program that is fully complimentary to the demand gen campaign.
  4. Sales reviews the account plans with Marketing in order to collaborate on the curation of the right content and messages to deliver to priority account contacts. They host this information in personalized webpages that are unique to each account, and even sometimes by role.
  5. Sales works with marketing to review account intelligence on the varying priorities within the target account and marketing creates messaging, emails, battlecards and conversation guides that pair reasons to believe in the brand with the pain points and objectives a high-value prospect intends to solve.

The role of brand in ABM is not to be a veneer, but rather to play an active role in both internal and external-facing content. Marketers must create different, often more personalized content not only for the accounts, but for the sales teams and channel partners to use, with prescriptive guidance around what to use and when. Each asset provides a chance to demonstrate to customers there is alignment between their goals, and the brand’s commitment to helping them achieve those goals.

The Blake Project Can Help: Differentiate your brand in The B2B Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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