Work Stories

ZS: Insight-based ABM shakes status quo and ignites demand

#ABM, #BrandStorytelling, #BuyerInsight, #CustomerExperience, #DemandMarketing, #ExperienceDesign

As management consulting specialists, ZS Associates (ZS) works with the biggest names in pharmaceuticals and biotech. And yet, they had an awareness problem. ZS has formed strong relationships with plenty of Director-level contacts but often flew under the radar with executives.

The team wanted to engage in conversations with individuals in roles with the ability to champion large-scale organizational change. Why? Because ZS had a big story to tell about the future of healthcare and biopharma’s unique opportunity to lead the way.

Together, ZS and Quarry developed an insights-based ABM campaign targeting 30 existing high-priority accounts that would help open doors to senior leaders, build brand awareness and authority, and ultimately drive impressive demand for ZS’s portfolio of pharmaceutical and biotech offerings.

ZS had a big story to tell about the future of healthcare and biopharma’s unique opportunity to lead the way.

“Unteaching” through insight

Getting pharmaceuticals to market is more complex than ever. Decisions are negotiated by a mix of providers, insurers, healthcare professionals and others—all of whom exert greater influence than physicians once had. And it all revolves around the patient.

Our Discovery and Insights work made clear that to succeed commercially, pharmaceutical manufacturers need to trade in their traditional GTM approach—one that, for decades, has been tightly tethered to the stages of the product life cycle—for a more dynamic and patient-centric strategy. We introduced a new framing that would anchor and inspire all campaign activity: from business-to-business (B2B) to business-to-ecosystem (B2E).

We introduced a new framing that would anchor and inspire all campaign activity: from business-to-business (B2B) to business-to-ecosystem (B2E).

Essentially, when pharma steps out of manufacturing and into the commercial space, they leave behind a linear value chain and enter into a complex and dynamic ecosystem of players. ZS is uniquely positioned to help its clients develop a holistic, sustainable strategy—and become a confident, active and involved participant in the healthcare ecosystem.

Multi-pronged ABM surrounds and inspires

With a powerful insight as our guiding light, the team set forth on planning, building and activating an integrated ABM campaign experience that would build awareness, open doors and position ZS as strategic thought leaders in biopharma.

  • Contact identification and buying group role mapping by account using ZoomInfo surfaced 1500 net-new senior contacts to target at our 30 accounts.
  • Foundational messaging defined the story arc and became the “campaign bible”, moving from challenging the commercial status quo to introducing the new model and leading uniquely to ZS as partner and change enabler.
  • The creative concept and campaign visual honored the core insight of a dynamic healthcare ecosystem, dimensionalizing the notion of B2E. The resulting ecosystem visual—a series of interconnected circles and nodes representing the numerous players in the ecosystem—uses varying brand colors, line widths, transparency effects and gradients to build depth, nuance and connection.

Two multi-channel, multi-touch campaign orchestrations—a hyper personalized, high-touch play and a broader play—comprised account-targeted paid media (using Demandbase), content syndication, outbound emails, a campaign microsite, bespoke content, sales enablement materials and event experiences for key accounts.

Working with Quarry’s Marketing Operations team, ZS leveraged Alteryx to pull in, process and merge data from disparate platforms, then Google Data Studio to build a reporting dashboard to track account- and contact-level reach, engagement with campaign touchpoints and progression through buying stages.

Senior leaders lean in—waaaay in

The campaign yielded an enviable 100% account engagement rate, brought in thousands of new senior-level contacts, helped position ZS as healthcare thought leaders and change makers, and influenced $40M in net-new revenue in 2021. “I was cautiously optimistic going in. Did I expect 100% account engagement? No. Was I thrilled? Yes!,” says our client Megan.

I was cautiously optimistic going in. Did I expect 100% account engagement? No. Was I thrilled? Yes!

Within three months of activation, all channel performance metrics surpassed target benchmarks. Beyond the highlights above, microsite page engagement doubled industry standards, senior-level registration to ZS’s annual conference grew 20% YoY and content syndication brought in 342 high-value executive leads from 26 accounts.

Oh, and ZS senior leadership can’t stop talking about it in public. “Our CEO was really invested in the development of the campaign and its messaging. He loves it so much, he’s now baked B2E into the company’s vision statement,” says Megan.

Takeaways and lessons learned

What can B2B tech marketers learn from B2E? Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Sometimes the biggest opportunity is the one right in front of you. ZS recognized early the value of doubling down on existing high-value customers. Recent Forrester research bears out the missed opportunity in nurturing existing accounts: “The average B2B organization gets 77% of customer revenue from existing rather than new customers.” Prioritizing existing customers, not just new-new logos, can drive deeper engagement and grow share of wallet.
  • If you don’t have anything good to say… Attention is scarce, competition is fierce and B2B bounce rates are high. Ideas, messages and creative needs to disrupt to stand out and ultimately drive demand. The B2E insight acted as an intellectual and creative spark that turned heads, shook the status quo and got senior leaders leaning in.
  • Make media work smarter, not harder. ABM MarTech allows you to leverage traditional media approaches without breaking the bank. Leading ABM platform Demandbase allowed ZS to hyper target paid media at scale, maximizing ad exposure and return on ad spend. And introducing modern demand marketing techniques like content syndication enabled net-new contacts to raise their hands and add themselves to ZS’s marketable database.
  • Scale with an expert. Working with an ABM specialist who fires on all cylinders—account intelligence and technology, media and messaging strategy, and creative execution—helped ZS scale their account-based efforts. B2B marketers who do the same can learn from the ABM expert’s experience and bring forward battle-tested practices to maximize future plays.

The B2E campaign was a true team effort. Quarry All-Stars include: Sarah Harwood, Alison Spehar, Cem Uçan, Emily Knight, David Chirakal, Mark Heine, John Van Daele, Dave Whyte and Ishaan Bhardwaj.