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Account Based Marketing agencies charge too much

We believe in the power of account based marketing to generate new business but we do not like to see agencies overcharge their clients for it

The marketing industry is cashing on its latest big idea, which is essentially an attempt to make up for its shortcomings over many years; specifically, that it should have signed up to much tougher KPIs way back and in addition that it should have gone to work shoulder to shoulder with commercial sales teams.

Only now is this happening, but rather than fess up, the industry has attempted a reinvention by selling an overpriced strategy and even more overpriced go to market called Account Based Marketing.

Get to the point

I’ve sat through presentations on the subject that took over an hour. I’ve seen PowerPoints with more than 50 slides. And I’ve had to listen to clients tell me that they were about to spend upwards of £50,000 on a single campaign to generate three meetings.

Now, I’ve had my share of this bonanza, so I am not bitter, but I am not happy to see tech companies getting ripped off. ABM is an important part of any integrated sales and marketing plan, but the bulk of the investment should be made internally not put out to an agency.

Who’s in charge anyway?

Many of the elements of a good plan require no special skills so should not be charged at a premium by agents. Moreover, many of these elements should be built and owned by the sales team, not the agent. In any event, a lot of the work needed to run an ABM campaign is often already being done by the sales guys, namely account discovery.

The strategy itself is very simple and should also not attract a premium, and I certainly don’t need an hour to explain that ABM is simply the business of targeting a small number of highly qualified prospects with multiple content types through multiple channels using insight into a key set of personas – decision makers and influencers. There, how hard was that.

Weak KPIs spoil things for everyone

Agencies have a part to play of course and who knows, the budget may well reach £50k, but the KPIs need to be a lot tougher if this powerful tool is to gain real credibility. I don’t want to see large agencies kill the golden goose.

Agencies can play many roles – industry advisors, content creators, sales team mentors, but the CMO and or the Sales Director should own the strategy and direct their own teams to devise and execute as much as possible.

Two words of advice before you start your own ABM journey

The first is, and we have all fallen for it is, try to avoid the bullshit factor. This is where two parties, the vendor and the agent charm each other into believing that they are about to change the world. ABM is hard graft and depends on plenty of luck along the way. Some people do not have the stamina to keep at it because someone told them it would pay off in a few weeks, and then they stop doing it when that doesn’t happen.

The second is, make sure the agency really understands what they are doing. Theory is nothing without knowledge and experience of the industry you are selling into. And without experience of some of the more ninja techniques that can work so well in ABM, namely newsjacking, influencer relations, media partnerships and product trialling.


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