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Harnessing the power of ABM to drive demand gen that delivers

Liam Jacklin

April 16, 2021

Agent3 was founded on the firm belief that the power of data, technology and content (the three agents of change in modern marketing) combined would underpin highly targeted ABM programs to help clients sell more to their key and named accounts, whether that be a single account or several.  And it worked.  One look at some of the results from our case studies would suggest we got it right.

Let’s look at some of our underpinning principles for a moment: we begin with a forensic insight process to truly understand our client’s target accounts; we then adapt our client’s message and positioning accordingly, and then use content to create a value exchange, played out in the channels we know the audience plays in and measure and attribute

But what happens when a client, buoyed by the success of smaller, targeted programmes, wants to scale to target a greater number of accounts?  Well, we broadly apply the same guiding principles that we would use for ABM, because that is smart, data-driven marketing.  But we call it demand generation.  

Life is challenging for our clients right now: CMOs are under pressure to provide high volumes of quality leads to their sales teams, but customers want personalized treatment.  That’s why our approach to demand generation works. The name you give it is, of course, unimportant, it’s the underlying methodology that’s crucialAnd that’s what differentiates the Agent3 flavour of demand generation.

So when a client asks us to run a demand generation campaign, we begin by discussing account prioritization and objectives:

  • What are the accounts?  
  • What do you know about them already?
  • What is your account selection criteria?  
  • Which accounts are priorities?  
  • How do you define what progress and success means for your accounts?
  • How do you tier those accounts?
  • What constitutes a lead?  What are the characteristics needed to qualify as a lead?
  • Once you have the leads, what do you plan on doing with them next?

 But here’s the $64,000 question – can you run ABM and demand generation side-by-side?


Understanding from the outset the status of the current relationship with each account and how much progress then needs to be made, forms the basis of choosing the most appropriate program.  Sometimes, it might be that ABM is the better approach.

To give you an example, Client X approaches us with a specific goal; let’s say, for argument’s sake, they have 15 accounts and simply want to drive some leads.  Without establishing account prioritisation up front, this would seem like the ideal scenario for a 1:few ABM campaign.  But in fact, it depends entirely on the status of those 15 accounts.  The first question to ask is about progress to date on those accounts. If those 15 accounts are all very early stage with little progress made with stakeholders, then demand generation would be the most effective way of achieving the client’s objectives of driving some leads.  If, however,  it’s an account where the client already has established relationships with account stakeholders, it’s likely to be more about influencing their thinking and, as such, a more pure ABM approach is relevant.

The ITSMA measures ABM success on the 3 x Rs – Relationships, Reputation and Revenue – framework.  And this works really well for ABM, but we have added a 4th R – Reach – into our demand generation offering in order to help clients go INTO and ACROSS an account to reach more people.  But we still want to retain that same, personalised experience of engagement that influences the original 3 x Rs and so, in addition to incorporating elements of our ABM workflow into our demand gen programs, we also advise: 

  • Being as granular as you can to focus on account interactions, performance and, in turn contact attribution. This approach should be built out from the very start (per the questions referred to above)
  • Ensuring you have the right insight to fuel your approach, from how you segment your audience to while you’re in-market.
  • Personalising your engagement and content, delivering as much value as you can at every touch point
  • Looking beyond the numbers and KPIs.  Document and evaluate qualitative measures and the intelligence you gather along the way
  • Engaging the highest priority leads with conversation and content delivering an experience that shows them they are valued

What is apparent is that people’s definitions of what constitutes ABM varies widely.  But ultimately, the label is not important, rather a focus on outcomes, and the right approach to driving those outcomes, is key.  So, if you’re looking into a demand generation program, my advice is to ensure the approach applies the right level of personalization and you’ll likely get the results you need.

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