Account-Based Marketing: Is it Really A Smart Move?

Is Account-Based Marketing The Best Option For Your Organization?

There are a lot of doomsday prophesies going round. Global warming, automation, the rise of Artificial Intelligence, and much more are allegedly colluding to make humanity irrelevant. In the workforce, people are increasingly replacing their 9 to 5s with telecommuting options and globe-trotting lifestyles. This is partly because people want a work-life balance. And partly, it’s because technology and outsourcing have lessened the volume of steady jobs available. So, if you’re earning your eLearning living on a project-by-project basis, account-based marketing can seem like a logical choice. But is it really the best option for you?

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1. First Things First…What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Think of account-based marketing as a bespoke strategy that caters to individual clients. It gives your eLearning organization the opportunity to focus on the specific goals and pain points of each prospect, instead of trying to cover as much ground as possible. It's important to note that it doesn't involve individual consumers but groups or organizations which are in need of your products or services. The key difference between inbound marketing and account-based marketing is that the latter involves a more hands-on approach, while content and inbound marketing allows you to attract your target audience on a larger scale. For instance, you can create one highly effective article or eBook and land 10 new projects, while the account-based marketing route would take much more time and resource allocation to achieve the same results.

2. Good For The Goose, Not For The Gander

The way account-based marketing works is through narrow focus. Instead of a marketing agency going out in search of endless leads, they limit their scope. The agency restricts itself to a handful of consistent clients and puts all their focus on these clients, who will be happy, because they will get more exclusive, personalized attention. There are less opportunities for data breaches, or for conflicts of interest with competing companies. There is more oversight and fewer overheads. The agency might face a few challenges though. They will end up specializing in this select niche and have limited chances to expand their skill set. Plus, if you’re relying on limited clients, if any particular client terminates your contract, you’re exposed financially. Account-based marketing tends to be project-based, so the lag time between projects can be punishing on the advertising team.

3. Hit And Miss A Smaller Target

The general approach to content marketing is to use a wide scope of content. It aims to draw in as many clients as possible, then segment them and target them on an individual basis. Account-based marketing skips to the second stage. It begins by selecting a small target and focuses all efforts within the selected accounts. The danger here is if the chosen prospects don’t come through, you have no back-up plan or alternative customers. Account-based marketing is said to perform better than inbound marketing by up to 80%. It's all or nothing, in many respects. Account-based marketing works well if your accounts are varied enough to fill any unintended gaps. Unfortunately, the nature of account-based marketing is concentrated within a niche, and that can be risky.

4. There’s Danger In Comfort Zones

Say that your account criteria are based on a specific industry. You only work with Fortune 500 companies in the healthcare sector, or maybe you stick with clients within a certain geographical region. One industry-wide emergency or natural disaster could derail your marketing efforts. If you have no other sources of revenue, you may find yourself in quite a bind. Moving on from an account-based marketing job can be tricky too. All your work experience will be within this narrow niche. When you need to switch to something new, you’ll be starting from scratch, and that can be overwhelming. Another limit to niche marketing is that it might stifle creativity. You have controlled scope of clients and products, so you don’t have much of a box to think outside of. This could lead to bursts of creative flair since there’s so little to work with. But it can also get very frustrating for a flexible marketing mind.

5. It’s All About Time

All good marketers take the time to research. They get to know their prospective clients. In a business-to-business scenario, they get to know the clients of their clients. The challenge with account-based marketing is that thorough research begins before you even bag the client. You spend intense amounts of labor identifying and capturing your accounts. This is the time that content marketers spend on actual projects. So, by the time you start work on your selected accounts, you’re already several steps behind. Not only that, but account-based marketing has a different way of measuring success. With fewer clients zoning in on you, there’s a larger focus on stats than results. This kind of pressure can lead to unhappy teams and drastic sales strategies. Marketing is a creative endeavor and it needs space to articulate and thrive. Account-based marketing tends to stifle that.

Account-based marketing is becoming more and more visible. It’s being touted as a faster, more efficient, more synergized response to content marketing. It spreads the agency far less thinly, which could mean less actual work. However, less work could mean less revenue, especially if one of your accounts collapses. Identifying the accounts, to begin with, is intensive and time consuming, and that’s before you even begin your marketing work. Specialization on a limited client base can work against teams, since they have no easy way to expand their portfolios. Account-based marketing is a good concept for customers, but it may be risky for agencies and marketing providers who aren't up to the task.

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