The lunch options surrounding our offices are, shall we say, limited. Perhaps this is one reason the line for Sweetgreen during peak lunch hours can run a solid twenty-minute wait. Diners, myself included, wait until we are ready to eat lunch to get the salad, hence the long line. Now what prevents me, or anyone else for that matter, from running out to get my salad at 11am, when the place is completely empty?

It’s a salad after all. I can stick it in the fridge and eat it whenever I want. One could ask the same question about how we purchase clothes at stores (which old-timers like myself still do). Around this time of year when stores are pushing summer clothes, the sale racks are filled with heavily discounted fall and winter wear – probably the same winter clothes you paid double or triple for just a few months ago. But no matter how enticing the sale, we often bypass the out-of-season sale items in favor of what we will wear in the here and now.

Both of these examples came to mind as I started thinking about how businesses market their products and services to – whether its b2b, b2g or b2c. You not only have to hit prospective new customers you want to convert and existing customers you want to upsell with the right message, but it has to be the right message at the right time. The right time, as is the case with winter clothes on sale as summer begins, often comes down to when prospects and customers are in the frame of mind to be thinking about your product or service. Catch them too early and they will get distracted and move on; catch them too late and, well, that’s self-explanatory I suppose.

This challenge becomes more difficult for marketers trying to blanket a large number of customers and prospects. The ability to personalize the message and the timing is why more marketers are increasingly intrigued by Account-based marketing (ABM). With ABM you concentrate efforts on a very defined set of target accounts within a market, and then utilize campaigns personalized down to the single account level.

Marketing automation leaders are also looking at ABM to round out their services portfolio. Recently inbound marketing and sales leader HubSpot invested in ABM startup Terminus as part of a $10.3 million Series B round. In its blog explaining motivation for the investment, HubSpot talks about the fact that while inbound marketing is valuable for targeting an individual throughout the purchase process and beyond, ABM is useful when there is a need to build a relationship with multiple stakeholders at once. When done right HubSpot notes, ABM is about “precision and personalization not brute force.”

If you are a CMO thinking holistically about marketing to b2b, b2c and b2g customers, Account- based marketing has earned some mindshare. Altera Group research finds that 97% of marketers surveyed said that ABM has a somewhat higher or much higher ROI than other marketing initiatives. And in its 2016 State of ABM study, market research firm SiriusDecisions found 70% of B2B companies are beginning to build ABM programs, while 87% of participants said ABM is extremely or very important to their marketing efforts.

Marketo recently highlighted five key benefits of ABM, and I think they’ve hit the nail on the head:

  1. Clear ROI – Effective ABM drives clear business results. In fact, compared to other marketing initiatives, the 2014 ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey found that “ABM delivers the highest Return on Investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.”
  2. Reduced Resource Waste – Because ABM is so targeted, it allows marketers to focus their resources efficiently and run marketing programs that are specifically optimized for target accounts.
  3. It’s Personal and Optimized – ABM entails personalizing your messaging and communications to specific accounts so that your campaigns resonate with these target audiences. Targeted customers are more likely to engage with content that is geared specifically to them, and is relevant to their business and stage in the buyer journey.
  4. Tracking Goals & Measurement is Clear – When you’re analyzing the effectiveness of campaigns, whether email, ads, web, or events, it’s easier to draw clear conclusions, because you look at a smaller set of target accounts instead of a vast set of metrics.
  5. Sales Alignment is Easier – ABM is perhaps one of the most efficient ways to align sales and marketing. This is primarily due to the fact that the marketer running an ABM program operates with a mindset very similar to sales—thinking in terms of accounts and how to target them, bring them to the table, and generate revenue from them.

Account-based marketing can help you reach the right prospect and customer with the right message at the right time. It’s 10am, so I’d love to tell you that I’m off to go buy my salad while no one is in line but…

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