How to Scale ABM on a Small but Mighty Marketing Team

August 27, 2020 Nick Ezzo, VP Marketing

A hundred years ago, if you wanted to operate a sailing ship, you’d need a hundred people to make it happen.

You’d need people to rig the sails, people to load and fire cannons, and someone in the crow’s nest looking out for land or enemy ships. Finally, you’d need a captain to command and control the vessel.

But today’s battlecruisers can operate with as few as four people.

Given automation and other technological wizardry, the modern battlecruiser can compete with much bigger ships without the help of one hundred hands.

It’s a lot like marketing on a small team. As a team of one (plus, amazing rotating college interns), I don’t have a hundred people on my marketing ship.

I have a carefully curated martech stack, with the likes of HubSpot and Sendoso, to power ABM programs that help us compete with bigger ships. As the name implies, HubSpot is the "hub" that interconnects all of our marketing technology. From Sendoso automated gifting to Conversica automated conversations to RollWorks display advertising, HubSpot brings together each of our "engagement" tech solutions. Account intelligence from ZoomInfo, LeadGnome, and B2Brain is funneled into HubSpot. Lastly, our web properties and Google Search metrics are tied together in HubSpot.

Here’s how I do it.

Expand your tactics and narrow your account focus

ABM used to mean “field marketing” or “regional marketing.”

It was usually leveraged by companies with million-dollar budgets and large sales teams. They’d choose from a list of the top “big names” in their addressable market and pursue them with laser-like focus.

At this point, direct mail, fancy dinners, and gift cards characterized most ABM programs. It was very manual, particularly time-consuming, and dependent on an ample budget.

Today, the focus on target accounts remains, but the tactics around that focus have become significantly more accessible in terms of both cost and convenience.

As a small marketing team, it’s wasn't sustainable to pursue 1,000 accounts today—and it’s difficult to do well given limited resources. But here, value is more important than volume.

At Auditoria, we whittled our TAM of 14,000 companies down to 100 accounts in four steps:

  • We focused on software and technology companies that seemed more likely to be early adopters of new tech, leaving volatile industries and slow-to-adapt companies alone.
  • We restricted our list to companies in a specific region—in this case, the west coast.
  • We added revenue banding to pursue companies with a transactional scale and  a level of profitability we believed would make them more willing to invest in new tech.
  • From the 1000 companies that remained, we hand-picked our top 100 accounts based on factors such as whether we had a good “in” and whether the company recently closed a funding round.

With a core list of 100 target accounts, we’re not “spraying and praying” everyone we cookie. We use various tools to stay in front of the accounts we care most about and we prioritize them at all stages of the funnel so that Auditoria stays top of mind.

Re-assess the role of inbound

Companies with robust inbound channels can develop tunnel vision.

When you’ve got a steady flow of people visiting your website and a good chunk of them convert, it’s not easy to get marketers and SDRs to embrace something new.

But as we all know, inbound takes time. The “if you build it, they’ll come” approach just doesn’t work for certain types of businesses.

As a brand new company in a nascent market, investing heavily in inbound doesn’t make sense for us at Auditoria. At any given moment, only a fraction of people are looking for finance automation or AI in finance—so until people come looking for us, we have to go looking for them.

Many tech companies looking to create categories face similar hurdles. SEO can’t sustain a new business if there’s limited search around your solution. And if people don’t know your product exists, they don’t know yet whether they need it.

In situations like these, relying on inbound can make your sales process even slower.

For companies in budding markets, the most efficient path to building brand awareness isn’t in inbound. It’s in targeted account awareness campaigns.

Treat ABM as a way to elevate other channels, not replace them

There are no silver bullets when it comes to winning new business.

But one of the worst things an SDR can hear from a prospect is, “Wait, who are you again?”

With RollWorks, my number one goal with account-based display advertising is building brand awareness so that when we reach out to people, they say, “Oh, you guys seem familiar!”

It doesn’t matter that it’s because we’ve been stalking them around the web for the last two months. When you get display advertising right, you give other channels an often much-needed lift.

Since we’ve implemented account-based display ads, we’ve seen higher open and clickthrough rates on emails, more form fills on our website, and higher quality interactions during webinars.

And it’s not just because we’re targeting decision-makers. We target the entire buying committee within an account to build account awareness, a play that makes all our marketing efforts more effective.

That’s priceless for a small team.

About the Author

Nick Ezzo, VP Marketing

VP Marketing @ Auditoria

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