As part of a project I’ve been looking at, I’ve been reading more and more on Account-Based Marketing. A lot of people are talking about strategy and alignment and philosophy and what makes a good ABM marketer. 

It's hard to find out what ABM marketers actually do to reach their customers. 

How do they reach customers and prospects? Most example campaigns online aren’t really ABM, they either don't begin with sales alignment or just a more targeted mass marketing tactic.

Andrea Clatworthy and “The Practitioners’ Guide to Account-Based Marketing” to the rescue. Based on that fantastic book and our own conversations with Andrea - here is my take on what ABMers actually do.


  • They actually make use of the same channels as traditional marketers

Account based marketers make use of the same channels and tactics - they just do so on a more personalised basis. Where a marketer would usually create a white paper for an industry, an ABM’er might create a whitepaper for an individual account. 

It's the same when you see other channels like events or print (here’s a great example of a personalised comic for example). Another good example is this event here from Fujitsu where key accounts came together to set a world record, each with a personalised device as part of the whole.

It's not the tactic that defines ABM, its the strategic, personalised application of that tactic.

  •  They know their customers in detail

What gives ABM’ers the ability to personalise their campaigns is an in-depth knowledge of their customers. A general understanding of industry needs doesn’t cut the mustard here. It's all about knowing the individuals, their opinions and their likes.

Personalised campaigns are time-consuming and expensive. Finding the combination of message and channel that will resonate and be effective requires in-depth understanding. The better the understanding - the more likely you are to get it right.

  • They measure themselves on key account engagement and revenue above all else

Opening doors and deepening relationships is the entire point of ABM. Social interactions, clickthroughs, downloads, conversions etc only matter if the right people from the right accounts are engaging.

ABM marketers ask themselves: “Did this campaign help us build a better relationship with these key accounts?” 

  • They use simple systems

Marketing technology is not a requirement to run effective ABM. Spreadsheets and simple tools are adequate to track the small numbers of data points. There are tools that can help improve ABM efficiency but it's a mistake to think that one key piece of tech enables the entire ABM program.

  • They share goals with their account teams

Account-based marketing teams have far fewer worries about alignment with sales than other marketers. Rather than working from a separate metric - ABM marketers share the core goal of engagement with their key accounts.

So instead of diverging, conflicting and competing - marketing is a core value-adding function for sales and vice versa. 

When the focus is placed on accounts - meetings become less about what marketing is doing and what they need from sales and become more about what both need to do to reach the account.