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abm, , Alan Consenhauser, Bedrock Data, Chris Gaebler, Cybereason, Inbound marketing, Mike Volpe, outbound marketing, RapidMiner, SiriusDecisions, Tom Wentworth, Zak Pines

A CMO Discussion: Inbound, Outbound & ABM

Christine Nolan from MassTLC booked an A-lister this morning with none other than Mike Volpe, former CMO of HubSpot and now CMO of Cybereason presenting (really, moderating a vibrant discussion) to a roomful of marketing leaders. Mike dubbed it “Marketing to the Enterprise: Inbound, Outbound, ABM… What’s the right mix?”

No surprise – but Mike the storyteller did a nice job of telling the story of his perspective on marketing mix at HubSpot (with a $10k deal size) vs. how it’s changed now at Cybereason (with a $250k deal size).

It went something like this:

At HubSpot, the business dynamics (customer acquisition cost requirements) forced Mike’s team to drive down cost per lead, and the only way to do that was through an inbound marketing machine.

Mike equated that to Rocky 2, where Rocky forced himself to stop using his dominant right hand, and therefore had to work up his muscles in his weaker left hand in order to turn that into a competitive edge in the fight.


Mike Volpe, circa 2011, flexing his Inbound muscles, with Outbound tactics strapped to his back

Now at Cybereason, Mike is freed up to a much wider array of integrated marketing options, which also leads to a “messy mix” as Mike called it. Options that weren’t on the table at HubSpot (and in fact, HubSpot’s entire point of view outcasted to millions) are suddenly potential winners and drivers of business.

The conversation then headed into a breakdown of how companies are applying ABM.

Tom Wentworth, CMO of RapidMiner and ex-CMO of Acquia piped in with a classic line “that sounds a lot like marketing to me.”

I hadn’t met Tom before but we soon got into some fun Twitter banter and I came across another doozie from Tom on the topic.

Tom’s point – for many companies, ABM simply means having a marketing strategy to target the right accounts in your target profile (which hopefully was always part of your marketing approach) and do so across a marketing mix and with strong alignment with sales.

Gotta agree there, and this is why so many will observe ABM (or ABE as Engagio up levels it to an overall organizational perspective) is “nothing new”.

Alan Gonsenshauser from SiriusDecisions gave the Sirius perspective – there are three types of accounts – large, named and vertical.

The Sirius large accounts category aligns to another concept that I see in account-based marketing, which is the “land & expand” program, where many of the marketing tactics are – yes, aligned with sales – and focus on running marketing programs to expand an account. This can work on behemoths where there is a constant move across product lines or divisions, or in a model where a business is looking to get customers on for a low order size initially, with expansion based on product usage or volume.

I’d also add that in Alan’s third category of “vertical”, this can apply to any form of targeting where segmentation is applied, not limited to vertical. A popular one I’m seeing (and using myself at Bedrock Data) is technographic targeting, based on what softwares in use by the business.

The ABM discussion inevitably turned into a software discussion, and then this happened:


There was a sense a real frustration in the room with number of tools companies have in place. It makes you wonder if they bought them for the right reasons, and if they have the right people in place to own those tools. I have a rule of thumb, which is don’t add a software unless you have an owner in place to drive results from it.

Then someone popped the question – why does the ABM discussion always come back to technology, which led to another great soundbite. Chris Gaebler tied it back to the numbers needed to align with executive teams and boards. Chris said it ends up being about what you can measure, and “You can’t be 12% over your messaging quota.”

The thing is – messaging, or more broadly, storytelling around the company’s raison d’etre, and more broadly, brand – is oftentimes the lone differentiator out there. It’s what needs the attention from marketing leadership, and is an area most B2B marketers don’t spend nearly enough time on. Because ABM is just marketing after all, right?

This meeting was a good way to kickoff what will be a hot season on the Boston B2B marketing scene. I’ll be at Hypergrowth, Inbound & MarTech over the next two weeks and MassTLC’s Growth Conference on October 20th, and just like today I’ll be sharing the best soundbites & pics on Twitter @MoneyballMktr, so I invite you to follow along there.

This post originally appeared on Stories from a Moneyball Marketer

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