Account-based marketing (ABM) has been a rising trend for B2B brands for roughly a decade. And it’s appeal (and effectiveness when done right) is rooted in thinking differently—in transforming your traditional approach to targeting, engagement, and nurturing to drive results.
But for Kelvin Gee, Oracle’s Senior Director of Modern Marketing Business Transformation, and his team, thinking differently has led to piloting an account-based framework. (Notice, “marketing” is missing.)
“We believe words matter,” he told a packed room at B2B Marketing Exchange in Scottsdale, AZ. “[If we called our initiative ‘account-based marketing’], sales would think it was just another campaign of the month.”
“So, we just call it ‘account-based’ because we’re all in it together,” he said. “It’s not a tactic or event. It’s a go-to-market strategy.”
This all-in-it-together mantra should resonate with B2B marketers. Simply put, if we want to scale our marketing efforts and drive tangible and transformative business results, we need alignment and buy-in across the organization; we need to be a team.
During his session, Kelvin gave us a high-level look at why and how Oracle tackled creating an account-based framework. At the most basic level, the demand waterfall was broken. Kelvin said that a very small percentage of MQLs were converting.
“There were silos; everyone was doing their own thing,” he said. “And we were transitioning to the cloud. We needed to do something.”
From internal myth-busting around what account-based really is to developing highly-personalized content for specific executives within target companies, the ultimate goal was to elevate Oracle’s strengths and mask weaknesses in the eyes of their target market.
While Kelvin said Oracle’s account-based approach is still in “pre-season” mode, he shared a couple key insights and learnings his team has garnered.
Marketers are often perfectionists, which can make embarking on a new initiative scary. But, according to Kelvin, if you’re willing to at least get started—to take that first step—you can get to the other side.
And you want to step together, and that starts with getting the team strategically aligned. To get your people there, here are four key focus areas:
Misalignment with sales. Poor execution. Shoddy communications plans. You will inevitably hit some snags throughout your account-based journey. And that’s OK. As you expand collaboration and refine roles, it will take some time for your team to work in harmony.
“You’re never going to get it perfect right out of the gate,” Kelvin said. “The key is to learn from those mistakes and continue to iterate.”
Launching an account-based approach for your organization is a lofty task. And those snags along the way may make you rethink whether or not you should continue. But you should.
“Account-based is a team sport,” Kelvin said. “Sometimes you’ll need to reboot it; rebuild that trust [with the internal team]. And you need to be honest.”
Breaking away from tradition and charting an account-based course is a long, hard journey. As Kelvin mentioned several times, Oracle is just getting started; Oracle is in pilot mode. But it’s a critical step toward the future of marketing and the future of their business.
For more updates from the conference, you can follow @toprank, @leeodden, @azeckman and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. In addition to speaking and tweeting, team members from TopRank Marketing will be live blogging sessions (like this one) throughout the conference so be sure to follow the blog for more.
Disclosure: Oracle is a TopRank Marketing client.
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