What Football Can Teach Us About Account-Based Marketing

Tailgating in your favorite jersey, the snap of the ball, the roar of the crowd after a victorious play – the game of football has a lot to teach us. Much like sales and marketing organizations, this beloved all-American pastime is about strategy, using your resources to the max, adjusting to unexpected change, and pleasing your fans. Many of life’s great questions can be answered by analyzing the way things are done on the field, and marketing is no exception. Now, gear up and get ready for a play-by-play look at some critical marketing lessons inspired by football.

Pre-season Training/Goals

Pre-season isn’t always fun. Games lack excitement, starters face pointless injures, and the benchwarmers are overplayed. Well, as anticlimactic as pre-season might be, it is necessary to help you perfect your strategy for the regular season. Study your market, research, and take inventory of your resources when laying out your marketing plan. Go ahead and test a few of your ideas to see how they play out before including them in your official campaign. If you learn to welcome pre-season with open arms, a more targeted, successful, and efficient marketing campaign will fall in line for the win.  

There are only 17 weeks for a team to make it to the Super Bowl in the NFL. You know you have a limited timeline, so have a goal to focus on for each marketing campaign, and envision the result. Introduce a particular service or product, expand your customer base, increase return customers, and formulate the campaign’s goal around that result. 

Picking the Right Offense

No sales processes are identical, but some marketing efforts move the ball down the field more than others. Choosing an offensive system will depend on your organization’s goals, the players on hand, and the industry you’re in. Different levels of success with varying styles and approaches are seen within every organization. Industry-related events might be more effective with specific organizations, while email campaigns may provide more benefits to others. When you build your marketing strategy, create an end goal for each activity to measure its success. Pack your plays with purpose and make the right offense strategy by asking yourself what the intention is. Do you want to move a few yards or score a touchdown?

Empowering Your Teammates

A quarterback can’t carry the team on his back alone, but he can still be a leader and decision-maker on the field. He can also perfectly throw the ball to the receiver, but it is still up to the salesperson to move up the field after completing the catch. Providing your sellers with relevant and up-to-date materials allows your sales team to become a playmaker and drive the company forward. Empower your teammates to help make them successful, and in turn, your team and organization will become successful as well.   

Picking the Right Play

Determine the play, coordinate a set of programs, and manage collaboration across the marketing organization as a whole. Marketing teams will need to work cross-functionally with Demand Generation, Content, Social Media, Field, Partner, Customer, Digital, and Web marketing to determine the right mix of programs to execute as part of your broader campaign. If your goal is to fast-track within a specific vertical, work closely with different functions within marketing that have a strong understanding of that vertical. Then, get ABM campaigns up and running for that segment and build the right messaging together. From there, pass the ball to individual program owners from across marketing, who will decide the right mix of programs for that particular segment. Marketing operations will play a significant role in creating goals for each program and understanding how they will work together within the broader campaign.

Your ABM team must include sales. If your team is not on the same page as sales, ABM efforts will fail. ABM success happens when sales and marketing are well-aligned from the start. Marketing teams must work closely with sales to agree on the target accounts, measurement, and goals. Support sales with campaign-specific messaging, follow-up guidance, and templates. Reach out for feedback on what is and is not working for your target accounts. Use this valuable information to improve your campaigns and programs further. 

Support Your Fans

People with Fantasy Football teams tend to tune into games that they usually wouldn’t watch to see how their players are doing – this is the type of engagement that marketers should strive for with their campaigns. Maintain engagement throughout your campaign and aim for multiple touch points with prospects or clients, incorporate visuals and interactive content whenever possible, and include client testimonials or case studies where appropriate.