Is Account-Based Marketing Appropriate for Companies of All Sizes?

By Lora Kratchounova, Scratch Marketing + Media

It is established that no marketing plan is one-size-fits-all. But what about an overarching marketing philosophy, like account-based marketing (ABM)? Will it work across the spectrum of business, from mom-and-pop shops to the enterprise, whether those companies are the purveyors or the targets of ABM campaigns?

While it’s still early in the ABM era, the short answer is yes, it can be used effectively by businesses of any size and can be targeted at companies from local to global. In the moment, however, ABM hasn’t yet achieved this across-the-board adoption. An examination of the statistics will help marketers identify the areas of greatest opportunity.

Where Things Stand

In its 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing Study, SiriusDecisions surveyed businesses to determine where they were in the adoption and execution of ABM. Megan Heuer, vice president of research at SiriusDecisions, presented some of the findings at the 2016 Marketing Innovation Summit for B2B. The survey’s respondents revealed that:

  • Among those that had adopted or were thinking about adopting ABM, 36 percent had revenues of more than $1.1 billion; 18 percent between $101 million and $1 billion; and 45 percent less than $100 million.
  • The clients being targeted through ABM were 75 percent enterprise companies (more than 1,000 employees); 21 percent medium companies (101 to 1,000); and 11 percent small companies (100 or fewer).

Right away there’s some interesting information. That big companies are adopting ABM  —  and are the targets of account-based programs  —  is no surprise. But the fact that a greater share of small companies than mid-sized ones are pursuing it as their marketing philosophy is curious.

The Hole In the Donut

First, let’s look at the data on who is adopting account-based marketing as a strategy, where there’s a hole in the middle.

It isn’t surprising that the greatest adoption is to be found at the enterprise level; they have resources available to devote to a research-intensive strategy. But the fact that small businesses are outpacing their mid-sized counterparts in adoption is extremely interesting… and the reasons why are not immediately clear.

However, some informed conclusions can be drawn. The proliferation of free or inexpensive online tools to enable the different steps in an ABM deployment, for instance, gives small businesses the ability to analyze data without breaking the bank. And speaking of data, they are dealing with less of it than a larger company, making a transition to ABM less daunting. Plus, it’s possible that many of those small business are startups, more agile and daring than established companies and thus quicker to adopt new methods that can help them scale out early growth.

This doesn’t mean that ABM is a poor fit for medium-sized businesses. Rather, it points to them as an area of opportunity for marketers to help them adjust to the era of Marketing the Future.

Follow the Money

It’s a little more clear-cut why large enterprises are most often targeted by ABM campaigns, beyond the fact they represent the most lucrative clients. For starters, large companies are likely to have bigger and more complicated buying committees, which encourages a specific strategic approach. There is more information about those companies out there, as well  —  especially if they’re publicly held  —  than is usually available for small- to mid-sized businesses and thus their buying committees. And, of course, closing enterprise-level clients may offer a larger ROI for the ABM investment.

Again, this is not an indicator that the large enterprise is the only appropriate target for ABM programs. The focus of account-based marketing, after all, is finding the best-fitted accounts and creating a more personalized message, which applies to clients of any size. Yes, large and medium companies will most likely be targeted as you kick off your ABM program  —  that only makes sense  —  but as you get the hang of ABM and the technological tools continue to advance, you’ll be able to identify smaller companies that share characteristics of your bigger clients and target them, too.

ABM Is Flexible, Not One-Sized

The advantage of account-based marketing in the modern era is that, by its nature, it can be adapted both to the company that is implementing it and to the client they are targeting with it; and it’s a versatile approach suited to any size of client, from small to enterprise. This is what makes it such a valuable part of your marketing mix. If you want more information about how to use ABM to grow your business, contact Scratch Marketing + Media and we’ll be glad to help you.

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