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Can demand gen survive in an ABM world?

#ABM, #DemandMarketing, #B2B

In the seemingly account-based-everything world we’re living in, does good ol’ demand gen still have what it takes to hang? At Quarry, it’s a question our clients have been asking us as we continue to see a surge in account-based strategies and programs.

The short answer: Heck yes to demand gen! In fact, I would suggest that thriving ABM is predicated on an active demand generation—or a 1:market—base. Here’s the longer answer.

…thriving ABM is predicated on an active demand generation base…

The quantity-quality continuum

Even “broad” demand generation programs are concentrated around the types of accounts you want as customers. Events attended, search terms bid upon, verticalized media, etc. have been selected based upon some sort of narrowing criteria (typically firmographics). Reaching a greater swath of the addressable market than 1:many, 1:few and 1:1 ABM campaigns, these channels sit at the bottom of a continuum of intensifying marketing attention.

Think about it. All leads were, at some point, included in the great big sea of quantity leads. Then, the identification of certain characteristics—uncovered by fit, intent or engagement analysis—elevated them to a measure of quality that supports a more targeted ABM effort. But like a pan of unpopped kernels, some accounts will pop earlier than others. The types of marketing channels typically covered by demand gen are akin to continuously warming the kernels (relevant accounts) to push them from quantity to quality—and pop goes ABM!

“Always-on” 1:market activities such as paid and organic search also do an excellent job of uncovering buying signals—and bringing interested leads back to your owned digital properties, encouraging first-party engagement—on an ongoing basis. 1:market programs and channels help to ensure a constant feeder source of ABM-ready accounts.

Pinpointing the connections

“But wait!” you say, “Demand gen is about individuals, not accounts!” And you’re right. The most important thing to remember about the 1:market base supporting the ABM pyramid is that individuals belong to accounts—and to connect them accordingly.

Very likely, the scoring you undertake to determine whether an account should be targeted as part of an ABM program takes into consideration the buying group contacts you have (or don’t have) at that account. Leads nurtured through 1:market programs and campaigns must be mapped to accounts, which will subsequently affect the account’s fit, intent or engagement score.

This reality has two consequences. Lead-to-account matching, whether done via technology or by hand, will need to be operationalized, if it isn’t already. And a 1:market approach (with leads matched to accounts) will support an account-centric scoring and SLA framework.

ABM vs. demand gen: We’re in this together

Smart marketers will select a blended approach that leverages ABM and 1:market demand generation.

Instead of viewing ABM and demand generation as separate efforts, broad-based 1:market programs and activities play an integral role in helping to convert quantity into quality for further ABM nurture. All these tiers—1:market, 1:many, 1:few and 1:1—coexist in a cohesive B2B demand marketing system.

Account Based and Demand Gen Pyramid
Smart marketers won’t choose sides. Rather, they will select a blended approach that leverages ABM and 1:market demand generation to achieve their pipeline and revenue goals.