Account Based Marketing: What Jon Miller Did After Marketo

Engagio is Captain Ahab

So I get this from LinkedIn in my In Box:

Jon MIller leaves Marketo for Account Based Marketing startup

And I’m like, ‘Whoah. When Jon Miller, the founder of Marketo, starts a new company, I want to know what it is’.

So I go and check out the new company: Engagio (sounds like a Harry Potter spell for marketers).

Turns out it’s a new start-up that does a specific kind of B2B marketing automation to support something called Account Based Marketing.

Account Based Marketing is not new — but I think marketing automation designed specifically for it is. It’s hot in B2B because B2B decisions aren’t usually made by individuals, they’re made by teams. So if you’re the kind of marketer that’s elephant hunting, you can target each part of the elephant and track all the engagements as you bring the sucker down and… eat it.

Jon explains it way better than I just did in a post with the Buzzfeedy headline, “Seven Thought-Provoking Ways That Account Based Marketing Turns Demand Generation Upside Down (plus some big news!)“.

[Spoiler alert: the big news is that Engagio has already raised $10M in Series A funding, led by FirstMark Capital, Storm Ventures and First Round Capital. Nice start.]

Jon defines his new market this way:

“At its core, account based marketing encompasses everything that B2B marketers do to support sales at target accounts. This includes selecting and prioritizing account lists, generating new contacts, gathering account intelligence, building account plans, running field-marketing events, prospecting into new relationships, and engaging accounts online.”

Every startup should kick off with a cool central metaphor. Jon’s is that Engagio is like fishing with spears (for a few big prospects) instead of fishing with nets (to hoover up as many prospects as you can). Works for me. Spears is plural because the solution helps bring salespeople and marketers together to track and poke named accounts. That feels very on-trend to me, as the walls between sales and marketing start to dissolve.

Jon refers to another post by Craig Rosenberg (the funnelholic) called The Difference Between Account Based Marketing and Outbound Sales.  As Craig puts it, “In account-based marketing, sales and marketing work together to create an always-on series of touches and relationship building aimed at these accounts. One meeting with an account is just the beginning – not the end – of an account-based marketing program.”

Why this Account Based Marketing automation thing sounds exciting.

Here’s why:

• Because a lot of B2B marketing (not all but a lot) is about winning big accounts by convincing whole decision-making teams

• Because the current crop of marketing automation tools are prospect-based, not account based. So Jon really has found a gap in the market.

• Because Jon Goddamn Miller has put his chips on it. (Granted, he probably has chips to burn).

This one just feels right to me: A real need. A proven approach. A guy who knows how to build and sell software to serve sales and marketing teams. And a cool company name you can shout while waving a magic wand. All the ingredients of the next big thing.

A prediction about Engagio:

Engagio will be bought by a big platform player (Salesforce? Adobe? IBM?) within 18 months. I’m not claiming that Jon and his team are building this to flip it — his track record doesn’t support that. But I am predicting Engagio will do very, very well and be a natural complement to the prospect-based marketing platforms out there.

So What do you think?  Is Account Based Marketing going to be big? Do the existing marketing automation platforms already cover this? And, most importantly, do we have to stand idly by while this bastard builds another billion-dollar business?

UPDATE: A happy ABM ending

A few months after writing this, Jon Miller asked us to help bring Engagio to market. We were, it goes without saying, thrilled.

The first fruit is an awesome piece of content called The Clear & Complete Guide To Account Based Marketing.  (I wrote a bit about it in this post: Account Based Marketing: a new playbook for B2B marketers).


Thanks, Doug, for a great article and what I’m sure is the best line about Engagio yet: “sounds like a Harry Potter spell for marketers”. Now I’ve got my kids running around the house waving wands and yelling Engagio!

I have no doubt Engagio will be a raging success, and I respect Jon Miller as a marketer, but it feels like account-based marketing will be the death of the new B2B marketing (the one you’d described in your original manifesto).

It feels like putting marketing back in sales support mode; I quote you quoting Jon “building account plans, running field-marketing events”, etc. Sounds like “just build a neat stand and give us pretty decks” from the lips of sales-led management.

Is account-based marketing the sound of B2B marketing losing its mojo again?

    Really interesting thought.
    Account Based Marketing feels more like close collaboration between sales and marketing around key accounts.
    But there’s always a risk that it reduces marketing to sales support again.
    I think the best marketers needn’t fear this — and the worst are probably already in support mode!

Wishing you all the very best in this new year Jon as you do this new endeavor. All the best. Account based marketing is the future.

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