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Account Based Marketing vs. Demand Generation

Licensed under Creative Commons. Credit: audiencestack.com

Over the last few years Demand Generation has been the go-to strategy for B2B marketing. More recently though, Account Based Marketing (ABM) has created a buzz within the field and has been gaining traction as the marketing approach that should be used by marketing professionals. What is the difference between the two strategies? And with 2018 just around the corner, which should be used as part of your digital marketing B2B toolkit for next year?

Demand Generation – Getting as Many Leads as Possible

Demand Generation, in a nutshell, is all about generating new leads based on individuals. The primary targets of this process are usually (higher level) decision makers and influencers with specific title types. The leads are measured and scored based on how the organization defined what is a marketing qualified lead (MQL), with their responses to campaigns being tracked within the organization’s CRM and/or marketing automation system. The lead is continuously nurtured and followed throughout this process, building interest and a willingness to buy the product or service. The process shifts from the marketing team to sales once the lead has accumulated enough points to categorize it as an MQL.

Success for marketing is how many leads and MQLs they are able to generate. The extent to which marketing and sales actually work together depends on the organization. More often than not, the two work as separate entities with limited interest and goal alignment.

ABM – Connecting Marketing and Sales

ABM is the opposite. Unlike with Demand Generation that tries to spread the company gospel to as many individuals as possible, ABM focuses on specific, targeted accounts as whole. These are the prized accounts that the organization wants to connect with and engage as part of their business plan. By focusing on select accounts, the company is able to shorten its sales cycle, increase revenue, and improve the overall customer experience due to the personalized approach that is used as part of the buyer journey.

It also forces a shift in the mindset for marketing and sales, especially with what their objectives are within the organization. This means that for any ABM program to succeed, both marketing and sales need to work together.

How to Get Marketing and Sales to Speak the Same Language?

The first step in the process is to get marketing and sales to actually sit together and prepare a list of accounts they should focus on for the next quarter or half year according to the current business goals of the organization. From there, both marketing and sales need to do their homework together and learn who makes up the whole purchasing committee and process within each targeted account. This may include departments and internal influences not traditionally considered as part of marketing and sales strategies.

Once the research stage has been covered, marketing tries to get as many engaged and qualified accounts using most of the same channels that are used in Demand Generation, but are tailored and specialized for the account that the organization wants to penetrate. The qualified account, and their interaction and response to high quality activities such as face to face meetings, are measured as part of this process. Sales, in parallel, proceeds and follows-up with those same organizations to close deals. Marketing gets invested in sales, and sales gets invested in marketing.

What Should Be Used for Next Year’s Marketing Plan?

So, what should you use?

Now, you may be thinking, what is there even to think about? ABM, of course. Well, not so fast. Do not count Demand Generation out of the equation. ABM should not replace Demand Generation, but it should be used in parallel as a complementary strategy.

Think of each strategy as a bit like fishing. Demand Generation is like a large net that allows you the potential to catch many fish. Some fish are too small and irrelevant for the catch and will escape the net. Sometimes you might catch something unusual or large. But if you do not cast a wide net, you will never know what is out there.

ABM on the other hand is like spear fishing. You know what you want, even if it is usually larger than what you can catch in your net. To ensure that you have a better chance of success, you do your research and bring in the most relevant equipment available to help you succeed.

When used together, you will reduce the chance of coming back to shore empty handed.

Are you interested in learning more about Account Based Marketing and how your organization can implement it? Leave your details to find out about our ABM workshop.