What Digital Advertising Can Learn from Account Based Marketing


I’m a huge Dale Carnegie fan. In 1936 he published “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and taught the world how becoming genuinely interested in other people was the key to success in relationships, in your career and in your life.

That’s exactly what Account Based Marketing is all about. Recently, I sat down with hundreds of marketers at #FlipMyFunnel, a conference hosted by ABM display buying platform Terminus. Terminus’s CMO and Co-founder Sangram Vajre explained ABM with an interesting analogy: marriage.

Sangram sat down with his wife and told her how she was his hero, and he wanted to know what he could do to better exemplify that to her through his actions (not sure if he knows this, but this is a common recommendation amongst marriage therapists and coaches!). He charted various activities by their level of impact against their level of necessity.

For example, a low impact activity was asking his wife what she wanted for Christmas, something that doesn’t necessarily help alleviate her stress. Juxtaposed to this was doing the dishes while she is away, something that makes her see that despite his busy career, he understands her stresses and wants to help alleviate them where he can. In other words, Sangram cares about his wife, and as a result wants to prioritize actions that make her feel cared for and thought of.

But what does marriage have to do with marketing?

Quite a lot, actually. In the same way that Sangram tries to prioritize high impact activities to make his wife feel valued, so too should marketers focus on the people who could gain real value from our offerings, and tell them how we can help them. “Customer heroism”, as Sangram says.

The key though is having genuine interest in other people. Marketers and salespeople often read Dale Carnegie and similar authors’ books and think they’re learning how to manipulate others or game the system. If you aren’t genuine, you may get an initial call but your intentions will come through. The only way to a successful relationship is to actually care about what your offering is going to do for the person you are selling it to.

Your Ads Are Only As Good as The People Behind Them

We can apply this concept of customer heroism to online advertising, too. In July 2015, Google rolled out an update to their Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs). Essentially, Google had better automated the building, matching and copywriting processes of Paid Search and removed controls from us, the advertisers.

The amazing thing is that DSAs really work. They take a user’s keyword search and, using machine learning, write compelling copy driving to a highly relevant landing page all using Google’s immense historical database. Perfect consumer heroism, the right message to the right person at the right time. You could say no human could possibly compete with that, right? Maybe it would mean the end of paid search marketers as we know them, right? Wrong.

A machine’s learning can only be as good as its inputs. Solid SEO is the basis of successful DSA campaigns, and the vast majority of companies out there today—despite their success and market share—often still have a ways to go to in achieving solid accessibility and digestion by Google’s index.

At the end of the day, even the most automated processes in marketing still heavily rely on us humans choosing the right experiences for our clients and how to educate Google’s machines on making customers feel like the heroes they are.


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Search Discovery is a digital intelligence company that empowers organizations to make better, dynamic and transformative business decisions. We're focused on delivering results for our clients through digital analytics, SEO, digital media, and technology.


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