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DBM: Not another acronym.

It entirely depends on how you read the title.

Read it straight, and I’m building the case for Deal Based Marketing. Add inflection to ‘another’ and ‘acronym’ and I’m making a complaint.

For clarity…I’m building the case for Deal Based marketing. However, if you did read the title with emphasis on the beginning and end, this may clear things up.

What is Deal Based Marketing…or DBM?

It’s an approach to affecting deals or RFP processes in your favour. It uses best-practice communication and creative techniques to elevate and deliver your messaging, technical and commercial response. 

However, bids are run under specific constraints in order that the buyer is able to compare apples for apples, and so you have to capitalise on every legitimate opportunity to differentiate yourself. The trick is, you may not know where those opportunities will arise.

It takes careful planning that you will probably never follow, and sharp reflexes. But complacency and chance are sure fire ways of guaranteeing you’ll lose.

Isn’t that Account Based Marketing?

No, not quite. Although the overall point is similar in that you are trying to land specific messages with, and directly affect, a small, known group of stakeholders. However, ABM communications are deployed during Business As Usual periods if you are an incumbent, or speculatively and unrelated to a specific bid of you are targeting acquisition accounts. 

DBM is deployed before, during and after formal RFP processes in which case the environment in which you work is different and therefore, so are the rules. Also, you will likely be trying to affect additional audiences such as procurement or legal.

Why do it?

Put simply, it’s becoming much harder to have impact in the bid process. There are more contracts available but at smaller value as the C-suite changes – if you work in tech, you used to sell everything to the CIO or CTO, but now you have Digital Officers, Marketing Officers with significant martech spend capability and so on. Also, there’s more non-traditional competition that ever before because in a digital world, anyone with an idea and an internet connection can disrupt.

Adding the fact that normally you can fit a cigarette paper between the costs of one organisation to another, and your messages and the way you deliver them are your greatest opportunity to differentiate.

Does it work?

Of course, but I would say that given it’s an area of our specialism. We have loads of evidence that directly relates to the impact of this type of approach, aside from winning the contract. The best way to think of it is as a world of marginal gains: in such a tight market, if you can shift the dial in your favour that’s all it can take – particularly in tightly regulated environments such as OJEU.

Where do I start?

Again, I would say this, but there’s lot’s to consider so the best thing you can do is employ the services of a specialist. Aside from that, once you have identified the deals you would apply this to, there are two key bits of advice:

You can’t start early enough: ideally ABM does the heavy lifting for DBM, but in the absence of an ABM strategy, you need to start landing messages well before the RFI stage.

Start with why you would lose: most people and organisations can give you all the reasons why you should win something, but the key is to understand the reasons why you wouldn’t. The information is key to changing opinion.

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