A recent LinkedIn survey found that two-thirds of B2B marketers believe that businesses grow by increasing loyalty, not by customer acquisition, but Peter Field begs to differ and he believes account-based marketing is the problem.

“Focusing on key accounts and loving the socks off them rather than reaching out to new customers” will ultimately be judged a failure, the marketing consultant told a London conference last month.

He argued that this approach is driven by the prevailing performance marketing mentality, which holds that marketing messages are best delivered when people are at a purchase decision-making point. It’s a view that is bolstered by the instant metrics that digital marketing supplies.

But the world changes, he pointed out. “If you just focus on your key accounts now, you cannot guarantee that they’re going to be your key accounts in five years’ time. You have to constantly bring new clients and customers in.”

It’s a way of doing things that Field and his partner Les Binet have long advocated for B2C brands, but their latest research shows “that stays absolutely true in the world of B2B”. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Binet and Field: Effectiveness lessons in B2B.)

Using their standard research source – the IPA Databank – the pair divided the B2B cases there into three different groups:

• those that had a pure loyalty strategy – something akin to an ABM approach, where they focused only on existing customers.

• those that had a purely focused acquisition strategy – where their marketing essentially was all about bringing new customers in.

• those that had a broad reach strategy – who served their advertising to everyone who was relevant to the category.

The reach strategy delivered by far the greatest average number of very large business effects (including profit, market share and growth).

Effectiveness of B2B Strategies

Base: 2008-18 B2B IPA cases

“We’re not saying that you should walk away from your existing customers or stop communicating with them,” Field clarified.

“We should be doing all of that account-based marketing, of course that is important, but it is not a long-term growth driver.”

Sourced from WARC