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Quality and Comprehensiveness Matter Most for Account Based Marketing

by Hank Barnes  |  April 4, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

This past week, I spent some time peer reviewing some upcoming research on account based marketing (ABM) being developed by my colleagues Todd Berkowitz and Julian Poulter.  It is a great collection of content that Gartner clients should keep an eye out for in the coming weeks.


As I did the review, the depth of my understanding and thinking about increased.   I realized that ABM is not business as usual for organizations that have traditionally focused on a clear set of target accounts.   It is more comprehensive and immersive.  As I thought about it more there were three things that stood out:

  1. It makes no sense to embark on an ABM effort without complete support (I won’t even say alignment) and commitment from both sales and marketing.  ABM is a complete GTM strategy.  It is not a marketing strategy.  It is not a sales strategy.  It is an integrated approach.
  2. With an effective ABM program, you are reaching deeper and broader into accounts, through a wide variety of channels and forms of interaction.    Quality counts more than ever.  Sending the lousy e-mails that dominate e-mail marketing and social selling (see #FridayFails on LinkedIn) is a recipe for disaster.   The contacts in accounts will talk to each other.  When they realize that they all are receiving the same drivel, they may revolt.   Do ABM right, prepare by getting a deep understanding of the account and the contacts.  Make all interactions relevant.
  3. Finally, you need to be consistent and comprehensive.   With ABM you need a mix of programs: advertising, e-mail, telephone outreach, content marketing, etc.   The idea is to reach many people in the organization (addressing the challenge of large, diverse buying teams) and make them more comfortable and aware of you.   Advertising is a great way to build that awareness.  Even if they don’t click on an ad, as they see it regularly, when they get “touched” in another way, or a colleague mentions you, subliminally, they’ll be more aware.  As long as they associate you with quality (see above), that is a good thing.   I’m not generally a fan of online advertising, but in an ABM scenario it makes a lot of sense.   ABM gives you a way to get those multiple touches and opportunities for exposure that create a more receptive audience.

There is much more depth to the discussion in Todd and Julian’s research.  They are the experts.  But these things really popped for me.   Beyond reading their research, you can learn more about ABM at the Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference (whether you are a Gartner client or not).  Todd will be moderating a panel of tech providers that have been driving success with ABM.  He’ll also have a workshop to help you get moving on ABM efforts.   This will be a great part of what promises to be a great event.


Category: go-to-market  

Tags: abm  account-based-marketing  b2b  gartnertgi  marketing-strategy  sales-strategy  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
4+ years at Gartner
29 years IT Industry

Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies for technology providers. He focuses on issues related to positioning, storytelling, the technology customer life cycle, and customer experience. Read Full Bio

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