HomeBlog The Grizzly Bear Strategy: How to Align Your Demand Marketing and ABM Programs

The Grizzly Bear Strategy: How to Align Your Demand Marketing and ABM Programs

March 20, 2020 | By John Arnold

  • Demand marketing and account-based marketing (ABM) are rapidly evolving, causing confusion in the marketplace
  • B2B marketers are eager to define and combine ABM and demand marketing strategies
  • The “grizzly bear strategy” is a metaphor that marketers can use to help plan demand and ABM programs

Some B2B marketers tell me they think account-based marketing (ABM) will eventually replace demand marketing. Some think ABM is just a new buzzword for the data-driven demand marketing they have always practiced. Others tell me that demand marketing and ABM are completely different strategies that should exist on their own within a company. To me, all of these different viewpoints are rooted in the fact that the B2B marketing ecosystem is in a state of rapid evolution and innovation — and that’s fantastic for those of us in the B2B marketing profession! close up photography of grizzly bear

However, change can also cause disruption, disorientation, exaggerated trial and error, and a resulting identity crisis: Everyone involved becomes eager to define their world and ratify their functions and roles. If you’re a B2B marketer looking for an approach that’s grounded in a combination of demand marketing and ABM, read on to learn about the grizzly bear strategy: a metaphor you can use to define and align your ABM and demand planning in the context of good B2B marketing principles.

My sister lives in Alaska and recently sent me photos of a grizzly bear that jumped in the back of her truck. I’m a curious person, so I started reading about grizzlies and realized one of their survival instincts says a lot about the current state of demand marketing and ABM.

Here’s the basic metaphor:

Grizzly bears are a very successful species at the top of the food chain. Adult grizzlies fear nothing, but grizzly cubs are in danger until they become larger and smart enough to survive on their own. Grizzlies are omnivorous — they can eat almost anything. However, grizzly cubs don't become healthy adult grizzlies by just eating anything in sight. They have to learn to find and eat the highest-quality calories with the optimal amount of effort.

Most of the time, grizzlies forage for select berries, nuts, grass, and other plants. They also hunt for meat to get enough protein, which is critical for their survival, but they aren't the most effective predators, so they need to stay selective when hunting. Grizzly bears also eat a lot of fish and are known to eat only the fattiest bites of the fish they catch and leave the rest — especially before getting ready to hibernate when they must build up a thick layer of fat. You would think grizzlies would want all the calories in every fish, but they choose to eat only the best parts so they can build up fat more quickly.

So, what do grizzly bears have to do with defining and aligning demand marketing and ABM? If your company wants to grow to become a healthy, mature business at the top of the food chain, you must use the same strategy as a grizzly bear — maximize quality with optimal effort while minimizing waste.

The right mix of demand marketing and ABM to reach ideal customers is the best way to ensure optimal growth. Demand marketing is like foraging among abundant sources for more numerous, quality meals, and ABM is like hunting for scarcer, quality meals in portions that make the extra effort worthwhile. Both are essential to sustainable growth and survival, and too much focus on one or the other could leave you thinner or weaker than you want to be.

At this year’s virtual SiriusDecisions Summit, my colleague Laura Cross and will be sharing more about the trends we’re seeing in demand and ABM during our presentation “Foundations of Demand and Account-Based Marketing.” My other colleagues will be going deeper on this topic and helping our attendees with new priorities, strategies and tactics for a combined approach to demand and ABM.

I hope you will join us for these discussions and many more to follow!

2021 Summit

May 2-5, 2021 | Austin Convention Center

Learn more

John Arnold

John is a principal analyst in the Demand and Account-Based Marketing Research Service at SiriusDecisions. He has diverse experience leading and advising revenue growth teams for startups, scale-ups and large enterprises; has been a published marketing author since 2007; and is a highly regarded B2B marketing thought leader, speaker, workshop facilitator and change catalyst. Follow John on LinkedIn.

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