We’re all familiar with inbound marketing as a well-worn marketing strategy that has driven business growth for the better half of two decades (or longer).
The basic premise of inbound is centered on the principle of competition. Instead of competing for the attention of your prospects, you create content that you hope will empower them to find your business on their own.
Since its inception and successful adoption, inbound marketing has become the gold standard for marketing. It has overshadowed other outbound methods such as cold calls, TV and radio advertising, as well as trade-shows and print advertising.
With inbound so widely spread, it would seem to be a given that it works well.
But does inbound really deliver on its promise?
Many companies are using the same methodology and tactics so much that it is totally used up and sucked dry — devoid of providing any true business value.
So what’s the alternative? Saying inbound is a bunch of baloney is as close to a danger statement in marketing as you can get. After all, inbound is what’s hot right now. When in doubt, stick to the script, right?
Inbound isn’t delivering on its promise, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, but it may not come in a form that is as conventional as you may think.
But let’s take a brief detour from the details of marketing strategies to talk about how you can actually make them happen— that is, what’s funding these strategies? One such answer to this question is angel investors.
Angel investors are all over the place, really. They are about as present as air. They’re everywhere, but like air, you don’t normally see them. This is why you may not have heard of angel investors, or angel investing, for that matter.
Simply put, angel investors are people who generally make a one-time investment in a business, particularly start-ups, to hold it over until the business makes it big.
Angel investing originated with wealthy people giving to theatrical productions to see them to completion in the past. In the same way, that funding can become a savior for businesses during times of hardship.
But it isn’t as if the investment does not come without a cost attached to it. Many angel investors expect to see a measurable kind of ROI in the monthly status reports from businesses on the receiving end of the investment.
It’s called angel investing for a reason— it’s not angel “philanthropy.”
That’s a valuable distinction.
In recent years, angel investing has been on an upswing. It is becoming increasingly suited for an environment that is supportive of start-ups. In fact, finding angelic support for start ups has never been easier. According to the World Business Angels Investment Forum, there are many places to rally support, including:
- 13,000 investors
- Angel groups
- Accredited platforms
- Family offices
- Individual angels
- 240+ organizations
- Every U.S. state & five Canadian provinces
The reason why angel investing is so attractive to investors is because it aligns squarely with sound investment habits. Even “39 percent of portfolio companies that achieve an exit event are positive exits,” according to Forbes. And given that angel investing is on the rise, these numbers are particularly comforting to everyone involved.
A Marketing Match Made In Heaven
Having said that, angel investing is a process made much easier, though, by a marketing philosophy that outperforms inbound.
Enter Account-Based Marketing.
ABM (as it is often called) is a focused approach to B2B marketing that proactively targets strategic accounts to turn them into lifelong customers while solidly building and maintaining a brand’s reputation.
Instead of targeting individual leads like you do in inbound, with ABM you go after the entire account using different points of contact to increase pipeline opportunities.
Essentially you treat each target as a market of one.
We can capitalize on ABM by using some of the lessons we learn through the process of practicing it, and apply it to angel investing. There are definitely lessons to be learned here.
ABM and Angel Investing Take Patience
The first (of many) lessons in this crash course is that ABM and angel investing are both practices in patience. Just as it may take awhile before you see any kind of ROI with the angels, ABM is not for the short-term. It takes a minimum of one year to see substantive results from an ABM campaign.
Thus, communication is vital. Its importance is no more highlighted than in the risky nature of ABM itself. Risky, because ABM demands a major position in your marketing budget. This isn’t unlike how angel investing requires a significant investment into something that may not actually pan out.
The risk for ABM depends on which type you practice. There are three types: Strategic, ABM Lite, and Programatic.
The first, Strategic ABM, focuses on high-value accounts on a 1:1 basis. It is the most resource-intensive type of ABM practiced today. ABM Lite is typically used to break into accounts using a 1: few type-approach. The last type, programmatic ABM, is when one person manages hundreds of accounts at scale. As you may imagine, programmatic ABM is more easily automated than the others.
Taken together, no matter which type of ABM you practice, you’re not going to secure money from angel investors if you don’t understand your product and who you’re selling it to.
The Importance of Your Elevator Pitch
This means securing appropriate funding for an ABM initiative is of utmost importance. But in order to get an ABM campaign, or an angel investing initiative, off the ground, you need a sound strategy to approach an entity with the power to help you. Angels like to see elevator pitches from those vying for the investment, much like a value proposition.
In ABM, you create a value proposition to approach businesses with that lists tangible and intangible benefits they can get from doing business with you. They are very similar to elevator pitches, which rely on your connections and your reputation to them.
Companies choose to do business with entities that tend to have good relationships and reputations. In terms of those who’d like the resources that the angels offer, this involves preparing for an elevator pitch to one. Similarly, an ABM team or practitioner will research key members and stakeholders in an account before approaching it. In this sense, this is a lot like the general approach to ABM — from the outside-in.
That approach of “outside-in,” is one of the revolutionary characteristics of ABM.
In contrast to traditional marketing funnels where you target specific individuals within an account—the funnel would get progressively narrower—ABM takes this funnel and flips it upside down. The funnel no longer gradually narrows, instead getting increasingly bigger and broader. This way, you maximize the opportunities open to you. ABM tries to take these opportunities and make them last for the long-term.
In the same way ABM deals in these lengthy relationships, angel investors are very much concerned with the lasting value of their investment. ABM ensures that these resources are not wasted. The whole goal of ABM is to create positive customer experiences with your brand, and to continue that process until it needs to be adjusted. This—adjusting ABM campaigns—can be performed relatively easily at any point in an ABM campaign. You don’t need to wait for the plan to play out before you can measure/adjust.
It makes sense that ABM is an agile form of marketing.
No matter how responsive to change ABM can be, though, one common mistake for organizations seeking angelic support is to have everyone present at the pitch meeting, but the CEO is the only voice. This mirrors the way ABM needs to function. Not the CEO dominating the conversational space part — the fact that sales and marketing were at least included. In order for ABM to work at its best, sales and marketing need to collaborate with the ABM team to drive success.
Communication is Key
That communication is not just important in the pitch meeting, but also consistently in the whole ABM process. This way, your ABM team is just like an angel investor—they both need to be informed to work.
But even with the right communication with all teams, ABM, similar to angel investing, is risky. Despite the benefits of angel investments and ABM, there is virtually no guarantee either will work. That means you may wind up losing money on an ABM campaign — no different from angel investing.
To help reduce the risk of losing resources, many angel investors will ask people who want their backing questions about how exactly their idea will work — the specifics. These vary in scope, but one common ones is whether you know the 1, 5, and 10-year projections for your company. They may also ask the specific metrics your management team focuses on, and even the timeline for how long it’ll take before your company becomes profitable.
Those specifics resemble the need to correctly identify the proper metrics you need to account for in a successful ABM campaign.
If you want to enlist the help of other angel investors, you might ask an existing one about their other relationships with venture capitalists. This is because you may need to get leads on who might be able to fund the next round. The practice of doing so is similar to ABM because ABM tends to do the same thing in its sales pipeline process. Identify accounts, expand to include key decision-makers in the account and engage them with targeted messaging. If it works (it usually does), you will have new advocates to further and solidify your reputation in your field.
One of the main drivers of ABM is managing and maintaining the reputation of the client. Reputation of an organization is largely driven by the success of the people that operate in it. Similarly, angel investors only want to invest in ideas that make sense.
This is different from investing based on the idea that will pay off. Angel investors need a generalist’s understanding of what they’re investing in, and you’ve got them. Remarkably striking to how a generalist thrives in an ABM setting. ABM relies on a little of everything to run smoothly.
The fact that ABM is generalist-compatible means that it works well in an agency setting. The culture of a marketing agency tends to rely on the expertise of many people in it to produce a unified work. How well you work together sets the stage for how others in your area perceive how skillful you are at the services you provide.
Your ABM Guides
While we don’t offer any angel investing here at MESH, we are particularly experienced in working with ABM.
If you’re looking to get an ABM strategy started, or maybe already have one but are stumbling to make it successful, we’re here to help. Just send us a message on our Drift chat to see how we can improve your campaign— and maybe even help you land that next investment.