Account-based marketing can seem like a handful at first. There’s 1:1, 1:few, 1:many… throw in other names like ABM at scale, ABM lite, etc. and you really have your hands full trying to understand the concept – let alone actually implementing ABM as a strategy.
The truth is that ABM doesn’t need to be complicated. Put more of your efforts into your higher-value accounts, and your business is going to thrive. Tailor your focus and messaging to the audience and let your automation tools support your execution, and you’ll start seeing some real results.
According to ITSMA, there are four underlying principles that drive all types of ABM. They are:
- Client centricity and insight
- Partnership between sales and marketing
- Focus on reputation and relationships, not just revenue
- Tailored programs and campaigns.
Keep these principles in mind as we delve further into the types of ABM. We’re going to outline the three different types and the who, what, when, where and why of each so you can focus on the important stuff; implementing these strategies into your marketing plan.
The Three Types of ABM
1:1 ABM, also known as Strategic ABM, is exactly what it sounds like. This type involves developing and executing marketing plans exclusively for individual accounts. This is what ABM started as, and it is still in practice, albeit less often, today.
“With this approach, a dedicated, senior-level marketer works directly with one or a few strategic or key account teams on the sales side, and crafts fully customized marketing plans and programs for each individual account as an integral part of the overall account plan.” – The Three Types of Account-Based Marketing via ITSMA.
With 1:1 ABM, account teams strengthen their relationships with the most valuable customers by developing a deeper understanding of their business issues. By understanding these specific accounts in more depth, marketing and sales teams can create targeted marketing strategies to help solve their problems – and gain more business in the process.
1:Few is also sometimes referred to as ABM Lite. ABM Lite relies on creating and executing marketing programs targeted at a group of 5-10 accounts that share similar attributes and challenges. Not quite as customized as 1:1, yet not as far-reaching as a 1:Many approach.
This type of ABM allows marketing teams to align more closely with sales, and develop more curated, targeted strategies than a typical marketing plan. These groups of accounts are similar in size, ideal customer profile, business challenges, and more. As such, tailored marketing strategies that work for one account are likely to benefit the others in the group – making the process of marketing to them in an account-based manner much easier.
Rather than developing strategies for every single account, marketing teams can target these similar groups customized, “personalized” content and drive even more revenue down the pipeline.
According to Rob Leavitt, SVP of ITSMA, the two most crucial elements of a One-to-Many ABM strategy are:
- “A constant commitment to research and insight” into target accounts and their attendant issues.
- “A constant collaboration with sales to reach out” to target accounts and build personalized, segmented strategies, messaging, and content to those accounts on a regular basis.
This sounds a lot like traditional ABM, but it goes beyond those tactics in order to achieve results at a larger scale. This means that sales and marketing teams need to focus on segmenting across large customer groups and designing ABM programs that work across a larger range of customer types and segments. This typically involves curated lists of several hundreds of named accounts, and the technological requirements are more advanced than your typical ABM program.
While the return on investment per account can be lower than classic 1:1 ABM due to the scale, if done well, one-to-many ABM can have just as much of an impact on the bottom line because you’re reaching more accounts. An additional benefit is brand penetration and “getting your name out there” in a way that 1:1 and 1:few ABM simply can’t provide. One-to-many ABM can effectively drive results for both new and existing customers for the right organizations.