Account-based marketing vs customer-based marketing

By Ricky Abbott |
2 minute read

Account-based marketing vs customer-based marketing

Account-based marketing or customer-based marketing? The difference is ‘you’!

So, how do I view customer obsession in an ABM world? I personally think we’ve always been customer-obsessed in our account-based marketing (ABM) but I appreciate the large swathe of ABM programs out there that are often not really that focused on the customers they want to reach, but are very often focused on what the company is selling, its product set and the brand they are pushing. They can be very focused on themselves, what they want to say and what they think a customer should feel about them.

WWI-WWII era military recruitment posters


I can think of no better example of an advert that exemplifies this 'internal” focus than the famous ads from our great armed forces. These classic posters very much lead with a message that’s all about them and they don’t attempt to acknowledge what their audience may be interested in. There is a reason why the armed forces don’t use these types of ads anymore. Nowadays their marketing is very much focused around what the army allows you to be and how you can be the best version of yourself, whilst seeing the world and enjoying exciting new adventures.

Customer obsession is key

Account-based marketing, if done correctly should always be focused on ‘you’ the customer. Being customer obsessed doesn’t mean stalking them. It means being more relevant to your customer’s needs. Building messaging based on audience needs, creating content that links to messaging, building creative that is emotive and linked to your personas and then ensuring the tactics and customer journey is completely built around your customers, constantly tweaking and optimising and never standing still.


Another big shift to thinking like this is often in how we view ABM. In large businesses, ABM is often seen as a separate discipline to brand or demand generation. Think about this logically; your customers don’t care that you’ve separated out brand from your demand gen or ABM efforts internally, they just see the message you deliver to them.

With that in mind, why do so many ABM’ers focus on disciplines that are traditionally viewed in the demand gen bucket. Is ABM just smart demand generation? Of course not, dependent on the type of ABM (1:1, 1:Few or 1:Many), there are various levels of personalisation, making your customer journey more relevant and in turn driving more engagement. The point though is that ABM should be about the ENTIRE customer lifecycle from brand all the way through to demand and customer advocacy.

What's the overall point?

Will ABM no longer be called ABM in the near future? I don’t think so, but I would encourage everyone to start pivoting to a customer-based marketing approach. Start focusing on how you unify any team that touches a customer journey and focus on building everything from the customer needs up.

Find out more about our account-based marketing services here.