5 Kickbutt ABM Tactics to Deploy in an Economic Downturn – with Juilia Tiedt

Juilia Tiedt thumbnail


Julia Tiedt is a Marketing Strategist, with recognized talent in content and inbound marketing. Julia is currently serving as the Director of Marketing Strategy at SmartBug Media, an inbound marketing agency that assists businesses in generating leads, increasing awareness, and building brand loyalty. A graduate of Elon University and Columbia College Chicago, Julia has over 10 years of Marketing experience. Julia is a leader in Search Engine Optimization, Market Research, Data Analytics, and Client Management.


“When budgets are tight, what makes a buyer move forward is a seller experience that starts when they’re a prospect and then continues when they convert to a customer… It’s about having a really amazing customer experience that’s fueled by insight to allow you to personalize the experiences to that prospect based on their needs, their pain points, and where they are at in their journey.” 

Key Points

  • Julia shared insights as to why ABM strategies fail.  
  • Intent data is the best tool to use to identify your target accounts.  
  • Uncover which topics are most relevant to your priority accounts, and build sales emails focused specifically around those topics.  
  • People are 13% more likely to remember details from an email with a video vs a text-based email. 


Hey, everyone, thank you so much for joining me today to talk about “5 Kickbutt ABM Tactics to Deploy in an Economic Downturn.” A little bit about me before we get started. I’m Julia. I am the director of marketing strategy here at Smartbug Media. We’re a fully remote company, but I am based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And over the course of my career, I have led marketing strategies and demand generation for clients across industries, and at Smartbug, I currently lead a team of strategists and specialists as well. So before I dive into the five tactics that I’m going to recommend, I want to talk a little bit about why ABM is a good strategy when the economy stinks. And really, I mean, ABM is a good strategy overall, and I think everyone should do it.

But, especially now with the economy and buyers being so focused on how they spend their money because of tighter budgets and just holding the purse strings a little bit closer to their chests. ABM is that much more critical. So when budgets are tight, what makes a buyer move forward is a seller experience that starts when they’re a prospect and then continues when they convert to a customer.

And really, at the core of ABM, that’s exactly what it is. It’s about having a really amazing customer experience that’s fueled by insight to allow you to personalize the experiences to that prospect based on their needs, their pain points, and where they are at in their journey.

And then again, before I dive in, I wanted to talk about why ABM programs fail. Because I’ve seen so many clients who are like, Yes, we want to do ABM, and then they’ll try, you know, one sprint and then like it’s not working. And these are the main reasons that I’ve seen an ABM program fail. The number one is a lack of sales and marketing alignment.

You your sales and marketing team really needs to be aligned here. You need to agree upon who you’re going after, the important data that you’re going to look at, and who is going to do what in the process to create that omni-channel approach. If you’re not doing that, it’s not going to work. The second reason is lack of account insights.

So you have to have data in order to be really smart about how you’re moving forward. And if you don’t have that, it’s time to be successful. I’ve seen again clients who come and say, we have this list of emails, these are our top tier accounts. We want to go after them. We build these beautiful campaigns and then they fail because we learned later that they’ve had this list for ten years and half of the emails on it didn’t work.

So you really need to have the data to prove ROI and also to give you insight into how you should move forward strategically. And then the final reason is missing signals of intent and buyer readiness. If you’re going after people who are really just starting their buyer’s journey with hard sales emails, it’s not going to work and it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

So, really thinking about buyer readiness as part of your strategy is important and critical to success.

All right. Getting into the tactics, the nitty gritty of why we’re all here. And if there’s one thing that you take away from this presentation, it’s tactic number one. So traditionally, I’ve seen people, when they’re creating their tier lists, use their ICP as a target. And these escapees I’ve seen it from, we want to target Amazon and Disney, you know, really easy companies to get into.

But at the end of the day, if Amazon and Disney aren’t buying your solution, nothing is going to happen. So what I’m proposing to you is instead of having a list of these dream accounts you want to work with, go with intent data, don’t try to sell to companies because they’re a good fit target companies that are actively in buying mode for your solution or product.

So what is intent data? It’s a data set that shows what an individual is interested in and what they’re likely going to do, say or buy next. So platforms that really help beef up your intent data are Zoominfo, Bombara , 6Sense, platforms like that which will help you in your ABM process. And really you’re going to uncover target accounts, the ones that should be your top tier through researching how people are searching for your solution and topics that are related to your business.

So instead of going after again those accounts that are just your dream clients, you’re going after people who are actively searching for a solution like yours or a pain point like yours. And then from there, you can determine the behavioral signals that to help you prioritize which accounts to go after first. Examples of this can be the amount of content they consume, the types of content they consume, time on page and scroll speed.

I feel like this is one of those things where you’ll have to continuously look at data and figure out which is going to be best for you based on your audience and industry and that type of thing as well. Tactic number two – sales sequences per topic. So the common thread throughout this entire presentation is going to be that intent data.

So you’ll hear me referencing it a lot. But to make everything as personalized and relevant to your priority accounts, uncover the topics that are most relevant to them, and then narrowly focus your sales email specifically around these topics. If you don’t know anything about a list of prospects, don’t send them emails they won’t care about. That’s going to leave a bad taste in their mouth, and they’re not going to want to work with you because they, you know, they keep on getting these emails that are just a nuisance to them.

Pro-tip With these emails as well, they should focus on building trust with the audience. Think about their pain points and how your solution will help them versus talking about what makes your business and products so great. Also object common object address common objections that they may have on a related topic. This is again a great opportunity for sales and marketing to closely aligned because sales hears what the common objections are.

So work with your marketing team to create an awesome email that hits those common objections in the sequence. And then finally, you want to establish your authority and credibility in the industry. This is amazing. Way to do this is by showing off your expertize, again focused on that specific topic that they are showing intent around.

So it’s really targeted as to what they care about as well. Number three, video, video, video. So just to start off with a set, people are 13% more likely to remember details from an email with a video versus a text based email, and that is from a Vidyard study. So video is massively engaging and it doesn’t have to be a big production that costs thousands of dollars.

It can be as simple as you sitting at your computer and recording a Vidyard to a specific person, to a specific group, because it creates a personalized experience that puts a name with a face and makes you a real person. I can’t tell you how many times I have suggested this and people are so hesitant because they hate seeing themselves on video, but it’s – grow the muscle because you will see results instantly.

It is such a helpful tool. Number four – Fast path to slow path ad campaigns. So ABM focus is on an avenue channel approach. So you have your sales and marketing team doing things, but you also want to incorporate paid ads to targeted audiences. And again, going back to that intent data you want to have, what topics are relevant to them, and also timing and where they’re at in their buyer’s journey in mind.

The ads should be relevant, timely and personalized. For warmer accounts, you want to have more of a fast path. So implement hyper targeted digital display ads, and it’s perfectly fine to have more than one campaign targeting the same segment. The key here is hyper targeted, so you want to have something relevant to that persona in that industry, in that topic.

And it’s okay if you have more than one campaign targeting those people. The second thing, for the more slow moving leads, you want to hit them with related content because you’re still building trust. They don’t need to have a big portion of your ad budget with the display ads, but still, it’s a good way to get them thinking about how you could potentially be a solution as well.

And finally, tactic number five, extra special virtual events. So notice that I did not say webinar here. One of the things that kind of was a culprit of COVID was that everyone started doing webinars and all of a sudden the digital web became so saturated with webinars that people got fatigue, really. So how do you create a virtual event that people want to go to and where they feel special and it’s personalized to them.

This essentially is the wine and dine of your top prospects virtually. So the key here is thinking outside the box with how to personalize this event, to engage your audience. I personally recommend food and swag because it’s wins me over every time. One thing we did here at Smartbug was we created an event where we had a chef come on to camera and we invited many of our customers, some prospects, and we sent everyone involved an appetizer and drink kit.

And the chef talked us through how to make these appetizers and drinks, and we would make a cocktail and then we would go to a breakout session and talk about something super relevant. And then we’d come back and make an appetizer and then we’d break out again. It was wildly successful because not only did it build community, but it focused on user generated content.

You know, these people all had similar pain points and were able to talk to each other about it. Now, that example may not be right for your industry, but something like this could be really amazing as well for you to think outside the box and create a really special virtual event. And you can even go as far as hiring digital event planners to create that virtual experience.

They are the experts at it. And Sifted is the perfect example of that, as well. So these are my five recommended tactics to try for ABM in an economic downturn. It doesn’t have to be a bad economy to do this. You could try them whenever, but I think that you will find that they prove successful as long as you remember to avoid the things that make ABM fail.

Anyway, it was great meeting you. Feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn. Reach out and thanks for joining us.