How to Plan, Build, Launch, And Run A Successful Account Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy (With Jon Miller, CPO of Demandbase)
Hello and welcome to another episode of the growth podcast with your host math pilate and I am really excited today to dive into another core angle and channel and process for businesses as they think about their growth strategy. Especially in B2B. Enterprise wage is a b m or account-based marketing and to dig into that today. I am joined by John Miller who is the c p o two product officer at demand base and was previously co-founder at home video and Marketo John. Thanks so much for joining. Thank you. I'm excited to talk about this topic. Yeah, I think we've covered a lot of different growth channels in the past year with different guests and we haven't yet touched on a VM. So why don't you introduce yourself for the folks listening and then we'll go ahead and jump in awesome. Yeah. Well, so as you just heard I was one of the co-founders birth.
And the first Chief marketing officer at Marquette. Oh and at Marquette. Oh, I think we were one of the companies that helped Pioneer kind of quote-unquote demand-generation the kind of marketing where you would like to call it fishing with a net you throw your campaigns out there and you catch fish and you don't care which specific fish you cast you just care. How many did you catch and that worked really well for life for a long time. But as we sort of tried to move upmarket and find new engines of growth, we had to Pioneer another way of going to Market that was month targeted and focused. It was much more like fishing with a sphere where we sort of identified those big companies that we wanted and we went after them kind of in a very specific focused way. So after doing that for a while back though after nine years at Marquette, oh and it was time for me to sort of move on and do my next thing. I was thinking about the challenges that I had doing this kind of spearfishing approach back at Marquette off.
Maybe realize there's an opportunity for a new company that could really focus on that kind of marketing and that's what led me to found engage you back in 2015. So we built engaged and and that the whole idea a spear fishing is what became known as account based marketing. So it's been about five years building engage you to be one of the leading ADM platforms and then earlier this year in 2020. I made the decision to actually join forces with the largest company in our space demand base with the belief that combining what engaged or did with demand-based did would create may be think the most complete most Unstoppable ABM platform and that's kind of how I got to what I'm doing today. I love that that's super cool. I didn't realize that you basically like a bill to the motion of ABM had it working and then you built the company on top of that. I think that's a good good quick lesson for for folks listening that sometimes things that you're doing within your company. That's that are worth.
Being that you're kind of piecing together are a huge opportunity that you could take to Market as you can see with John's situation here the strategy worked great. It was trying to do this account based Folk Fest with Marketo, which was a lead-based system. That was the challenge that created the opportunity. Yeah. My next question here was going to be can you define account based marketing? I think you kind of did that right? It's the difference between spear fishing and just kind of like getting whatever fish you you can't yeah, you know, I think I've word expand on that definition a little bit more formally I'd say first of all, based marketing is a go-to-market strategy. It's not a campaign really it's a way of thinking about how you run your programs that really leverages focus. The whole idea is you pick fewer things to focus on and therefore do A Better Effort, you know focusing on them. And then the last thing I'll say is in many ways account based marketing is a misnomer because it's really not a marketing thing.
It's really again. It's a go-to-market strategy for your sales team your marketing team and your sales team. And so it's a go-to-market strategy to coordinate personalized marketing and sales efforts to van and expand high value package you have and to add a little bit more clarity for maybe folks that aren't super familiar who is usually a good fit for doing count based marketing strategies cuz it's not necessarily everyone always like a direct-to-consumer brand might not be a good fit for it. But who is yeah. No, it's a great question. And I think the fishing analogy works here right again, if if your business is made up of capturing lots of small fish. It's going to be more efficient official the net right ATM strategies work best when you do want to sort of pick a specific Focus. So I would say typically ABM strategies start kicking in at least let's just talk about software-as-a-service technology companies. It starts to kick in around $50,000 deals, you know a year smaller than that.
Maybe you might use some account-based lenses, but but it's just not worth the focus that ABM needs so it's real to say 50k deals and up would be sort of a good way to sort of think about it. I'd say, yep and someone that has more of a consumer type offering really like have you seen it work in consumer cases? Well, maybe you know, it's just a minute walk a little bit more precise here. Cuz a VM is not I think a monolithic strategy even I think there are tears in styles of a via. So at the top of a pyramid there, but I'm going to call Strategic Avian and this is your kind of classic every every interaction without company is completely bespoke like wage is a company DSC. They sell Thirty Million Dollar Deals. They literally hire a branding agency to create a brand for the campaign to each individual customer which wage
Worth it, cuz it's Thirty million dollars. So you have this like super high-end strategic. Let's just say that's your two million dollar deals enough.
You're on average over the median number of accounts that people have of that style is 14 you just you can't do that level of focus for that many accounts. There's a scale style of avian, which maybe is good for your like say half million dollar deals your high six-figure deals. And this is more of a 1/2 few style approach. It's very focused and kind of micro Industries in micro verticals, but still very highly relevant and personalized you're around those accounts. Then you're going to have your programmatic style of ABM. This is maybe your fifty to a hundred K deals. This style is much more driven by technology using things like intent data to identify accounts and advertising to reach out to them.
And then below 50k, I think you can still do things that I would call targeted Demand yet. You might send a direct mail campaign or do advertising and you might as well Focus that on accounts that you think are good fits in your ICP ideal customer profile. Again, you're going to show ads you might as well Target the good accounts deal with your ads, but it doesn't have that level of personalization to the account. And so we can debate whether that kind of account targeted demand. Jen is really a d m. Frankly doesn't matter, you know, as long as it works for your business. It's highly dependent I think on your TV's. Yeah. I'm just thinking about how we put this into practice at Drift We we kind of have two different buckets of accounts. We have targeted accounts, which we generally going to run more ABM type stuff towards and then we have what we call volume accounts, which is kind of like everyone else lower a CV a fit for our classic Marketing sales, Michelle.
Yeah, exactly, which is almost gets into like your scoring methodology, right? You know, I mean, if you're fishing with the net some stuff that gets caught in the net you're going to want some stuff that gets caught in that you don't want that's a way of sort of thinking about targeting as well. Yeah. So let's say so you just ran through that example, let's say there's folks that are listening that fit into one of those buckets. Maybe not the Super track pyramid because maybe there's some folks listening but I don't think that they're my audience. So let's say that you're you're more towards like the middle bottom and you're wondering. All right, like we've been talking about ABM for a while my company who haven't done it before I think it's time to get started. Like how does someone start? Yeah. Well, I think in terms of getting your whole organization on board, I mean I obviously talked about the main benefits of an ABM approach, you know, which to me again. I think more than anything else comes down to that Focus EDM is a low wage.
To marketing strategy because you're putting as many of your dollars you can onto the and as much as your effort as you can onto the accounts that matter that tends to sort of just make intuitive sense to a lot of people but the group you really need to convince to get on board a sales because as I said a VM is not just a marketing tactic you need Mark in sales to work together again. The good news is that it's usually not that hard to convince sales people right you go to them and say hey rather than doing all this generic marketing I've been doing I'm going to take a hundred percent of my effort and put it onto the accounts that you tell me you care about
Sales usually feels pretty good about that. You know, cuz the reality is at the end of the month of the end of the quarter sales doesn't celebrate the number of leads they closed but they celebrate the number of accounts they closed and so for Mom to go to sales and start saying hey, I'm going to be account focused. Usually that just means they're all speaking the same language, which is pretty good.
Yeah, and I think what's really important to highlight there because I've heard people at earlier companies like start and ABM type strategy and it comes across as siloed in marketing like what you were saying like it's not a campaign but it does seem like some folks start as like we and marketing or to get this list and then we are going to just like send personalized stuff that less than a year you're saying it is much more than that. It's not just a one-time thing. It has to be like a full-on approach. Yeah. I mean my buddy showed turn off who's now see him over at pendo but was previously on a CMOS insightsquared. This is not the Boston company. They did exactly what you just said, right? They identified a list of accounts. They thought were interesting and they they basically offered them all a cool pair of really cool pair of I think Nike shoes if they would take a meeting and which is expensive campaign to send to all these accounts and they generated a bunch of meetings and then they sent those over the sales team and the sales team.
You said yeah. No, I don't want to meet with those guys. Right and the whole thing was a big waste, you know, it was a real lesson learned in the importance of working together with sales to align. Yeah, and so let's say you got to a point where you as Mabel leadership in marketing or sales have gotten both groups on board and we say, all right. We want to go ahead and forward with cohesive ABM strategy. What's my next step? Do I write up a plan? Do I just like get a list? Like, how do I go from there? Well, I mean it starts by am I choosing your targets, you know finding the accounts that you're a mutually going to focus on and I recommend first really getting clarity about how many accounts you can truly support.
Remember the different styles. I talked about earlier. I mean a lot of companies will say okay, we're going to have fifty tier-one accounts, but you can't give completely bespoke attention to fifty accounts and maybe you don't sell two million dollar deals. And so having even bespoke strategies doesn't make sense. So start by like really what are your thoughts? You see these? What are the styles of ABM you're going to be practicing and use that to identify the number of accounts that you can have in each tier.
And then once you know, the number of accounts, you gonna have to go pick them and that I think works best with the process that I sort of call marketing supported but sales office and so for all the reasons, we just said the end of the day sales needs to pick the accounts. They need to feel ownership of like yes, this is one that I want you get me a meeting or you get me engagement at that account. That's a good thing but marketing should really be the one driving the process of supporting it with data and intelligence. And the way to do that is with a methodology that we call the fire methodology and fires and acronym that stands for fit in tenth relationship and engagement.
So what that means is marketing can go and identify First yoga those four things and give that data to sales and then sales can use those inside the Pixar accounts. So let's talk about those four things.
Cuz they're important. So the first one the F-4 fit, you know, this is really how well does this account fit my ideal customer profile. This is a great place to use machine learning. If you have access to it tell me the accounts that have been who your customers and who your good accounts. Let's look at their who they are. Let's look at what technology is they may use, you know wages of other factors about this account and basically identify other accounts that look like your best ones. Those are going to be your high fit accounts, which usually are pretty good ones to to focus on the second one your eyes your intent so intent is to become really hot and I say the last three or four years or so because what we're finding is that more and more research is happening off of our website.
So your tools like drift are great once somebody gets to your website and you can start engaging with them. But how do you even know you know, when a company is thinking about making your purchase and they're doing all that off-site research. So intent data basically lights up those insights by basically you're looking at hey what topics are account people from that company researching, but then you know, when you start to see Trends, they're like wow whole bunch of people at this account just started researching cybersecurity. That's a good sign that maybe there's a cyber security initiative going on there. If you sell cyber security, that's that really should highlight that account in your prioritization. So intent is really important.
The r stands for relationship and that has to do with a bunch of factors. You'll one of the existing customers versus new customers that matters but moreover like have you sold to this account in the past wage and that might have insights in terms of whether you should pick it as a Target account or even just the people are there people at that account who used to be your customer at another company or that you sold to in a prior job all that relationship stuff should go into your ranking and last but not least the E stands for engagement. Right? And this is is that account interacting with you on your website with your marketing campaigns. Are they responding engaging with you? Are they spending time with you? And that's so important because really before somebody spends money with you they're going to spend time with you with agent is a great way to track that. So get all the information about the fire metrics present that to sales and then sales is in a great position to pick the right accounts.
Do you think from the all the companies and accounts that you've seen Implement a VM strategy? Is there one part of that or two part of it that you see get glossed over more than others that that create major problems and implementation later on. Yeah, it's good question. Probably the biggest mistake. I see something added to a second ago, which is you have too many accounts, especially too many accounts at the top tiers. I've seen people just say yeah. I have a Target account list of four thousand accounts. That's my song list.
Okay, you're not really doing abms and because you can't again kind of classic 8 p.m. Cuz you can't be extra Belvin an extra personalised support the outside comes home. And so if you want to do this strategy, it is about focusing. It is about putting more resource onto fewer accounts so that you can stand out in a crowded market and because you can't focus on the everything that's why the prioritization of where you are focusing and something so important that makes a lot of sense. So, let's say now you walked us through the process that marketing goes through with fire hands it over to sales pick all the accounts like then. What is the motion at the after that? Like, what's the next step? Do you just just start planning campaigns to those groups? Like I don't actually know what happens next. Well now now you have to start engaging right with them and actually true.
Reach out and what you'll find is that there are I mean, there are a lot of different tactics that people use and it depends on your style of ADM at that top-tier strategic two million dollar deals. What matters is creating account specific content and putting in place Executives executive relationship programs, the programmatic one and the more scale oriented ones are a lot of people are are doing a VM today that tends to be about 80% online driven by email your focus emails and advertising page and the advertising one is pretty interesting because if you got this account, let's say showing intent for your products, but they aren't coming to your website. If you can really Target ads just to that account and try to Target Those ads based upon the key words, they're showing intent for and use that to drive them to a appropriate page on your website that can be really pretty compelling and Powerful, you know, as long
To to get people to engage another tactic that is really pretty common. Today is sending Direct Mail Packages. It's a little tricky cuz you need to find where people's home addresses are today, but people get a lot of email and they don't get as many packages. So they good Direct Mail campaign can kind of stand out in the crowd but the most important thing is not any one channel. It's not oh ads. Okay a great. I'm doing a b m or direct email and doing a BM. It's about orchestration. It's about getting all of these things kind of work together including marketing and sales. So you don't just send the direct mail package. You also are running ads to that account to create our cover and most importantly you have your Ser is primed to reach out to that account as soon as the package gets delivered.
Or just even something simpler. They casted yesterday hours are going after those two also have ads running against them. And so just really think about this orchestrated engagement across sales is the way that you're going to engage and who is the person that you think or maybe it's the same thing that you think should and that you see you own this strategy. Like is this a if you're going into a BM, you need to hire a person to oversee the strategy just the VP of marketing owned it to sometimes a growth pre-owned it like where does that live? It was a shared thing. The answer that there is a lot cuz there's relatively few companies that are 100% a d m or 100% de managing a hundred percent Spears hundred percent Nets a lot of companies actually span twenty Thirty K deals up to six or seven-figure deals. And so what you'll see is again a large cock.
I mean, he may actually create within the demand Jen function or within the growth or Revenue function to different teams in a BM team and Adam and Jen team. That's the way we used to do a backup Marketo. For example, sometimes you'll see that ABM lives inside the digital marketing team because they're taking a very digital advertising Centric approach and sometimes found one of my favorite places for 8 p.m. To live is actually with marketing operations just like demands and really requires good marketing operations. I think ABM does as well.
So anyway long answer to basically say it's all over the map ADM lives and lots of different places. Sometimes somebody with maybe I'm title. Sometimes it's not it's really more about the strategies. Yep. And one last question I got here. How do you think about measurement of an ABM program like is the measurement just the revenue Thursday? I get out the other end. Is it some other measure of the funnel? Is it all the above? Good question. I mean obviously revenue and pipeline are great metrics, right and and cuz the more markers can talk about dollars the more they're speaking the language of business, but the problem is you can't wait a year to see results Navien and it can take a really long time cuz you're going after these big accounts and these big accounts aren't raising their hand and coming to you you're going to them so you still need leading indicators.
Right to show that you're making progress on the way towards Pipeline and revenue and the best way I know to do that is to really get rigorous about defining your account final or your account Journey. Just like in the band Jen we used to talk about mql and SQL S&S a hells and we sort of really got good understanding how our leads would get through different stages do the exact same thing for your accounts and really say all right in my target market how many accounts are showing intent of those jobs many are coming to me in visiting my website or responding to my marketing campaigns of those how many are showing like deep research sites a deep engagement with me how many of those do I am eating with Hemi those Drive opportunities with and by literally building out these like precursor stages you get to start of how those leading indicators, you know that are so so so long
Cancel because at the end of the day with a BM, it's not about the additional quantity based metrics. It's not about how many people showed up at my event right gave a old will be has a great quote. He says don't count the people you reached reached the people that count and I think that's a really good way to summarize a be a measurement. It's about quality not just quantity love that. So I felt like a great point to wrap. I usually ask the question of it. Was there anything else that you wanted to touch on around to say VM process that we didn't cover I guess. I mean, although things were just one other piece of advice page related to measurement relate to other things too. I've seen people wrapped their heads around an axle trying to come up with a grand unified theory and measurement especially people who do both imagine nabm trying to say, well, I'm going to measure everything this one way and the reality is I think it's okay to measure your different finals differently. It's okay to have a lead-based metric system to measure. Yep.
Net fishing and then also put in place this more account paste metric system to support your spear fishing and don't let people try to force you into sort of just pigeonholing into kind of one funnel great. Well John, thank you so much. This is great. I appreciate you coming on absolutely great topic happy to talk more about it than anybody who wants to reach out awesome. So long is the episode today. If you're a fan of this there are plenty more really great episodes with amazing guests. Hit that subscribe button check out the library Weaver review if you've got any feedback at all my emotions manager of.com. Just drop me a note and I will catch you on the next episode. Thanks.