Tl;dr - Firmographics are an important element of an integrated marketing data stack. They're often viewed as static yes/no discriminators in account selection. That's shortsighted. Combined with other data, and viewed dynamically in the context of technographics and intent data, they can support a number of marketing and sales use cases.
Firmographics - Static and Dynamic
Let's start with the basics.
What are Firmographics?
Firmographic data is a set of facts that complement our understanding of the account and market situation. This includes information on the size (revenue and employees), ownership, location, industry (SIC and NAICS codes), growth rates, competitors, and tecnology.1,2
Firmographic data should include other elements as well. While industry is helpful, more specific info on the products and services they sell, and their typical customer profile may tell a richer, nuanced story.
Whether they have certain job roles can indicate opportunity or lack of it. Whether a company has a CHRO, for instance, can be an important firmographic indicator for sales teams selling to that role (or to outsource it if it's missing.) And there are lots of industry-specific firmographic data to consider. For instance, for a company selling dental equipment, a dentist's office with 25 employees in one location is very different than one with 25 employees spread across 10 locations. For a vendor providing commercial leasing, whether a company shows a history of UCC filings might indicate if they're philosophically open to financing. And a real estate firm that works to help strip mall owners increase asset value and performance would consider equity levels, occupancy rates, and the last time building permits were pulled for a facility. Those are also types of firmographic data.
Obviously, these are random examples that serve to illustrate how we should expand the way we think of firmographics (and enrich AND unify the data stack) to support marketing segmentation and sales strategy and tactics. Your industry will have its own specific data properties of interest.
Firmographics Shouldn't be Siloed
Integrated into a robust marketing data stack, firmographics can help gauge the "account fit" portion of the basic analysis which considers account fit and activity with contact fit and activity.
Often firmographic data is viewed as a static filter that is used to select in or out accounts by fit against an ideal customer profile (ICP.) That's often a mistake. Things change on both ends of the relationship. Prospect companies can grow quickly or shrink; profitability can change quickly; ownership changes can be sudden; product roadmaps can extend into entirely new markets and exit traditional ones; and technographics, which are a close cousin of firmographics, can also change quickly.
Therefore, continuous enrichment and real-time analysis of the full data stack are important to ensure that prospects and active opportunities are always considered in the context of current and comprehensive data. It is a dynamic data set, not one that's viewed as a snapshot for one-time decisions and not revisited.
How is Firmographic Data Collected?
Generally, firmographics are sourced through primary and secondary sources. Companies' own websites (including press releases and job postings) are rich sources of data. Public filings with government and regulatory agencies are a source of additional data, as well as data vendors including D&B.
As internet crawling technology has improved, the scope and detail of firmographics have as well. New product announcements, office openings and expansions, awards and recognitions, key hires, customer wins and losses, and other indicative data points can be more easily harvested, consolidated, and digested. Many of these are examples of news-type data that is more dynamic and can support account-based marketing efforts as well as more general segmentation and fit analysis.
Common Use Cases for Firmographic Data
Firmographics can support the segmentation of suspects for outbound prospecting, prioritization and selection for ABM, lead scoring and propensity to buy, and opportunity management. It can also trigger specific actions and tactics. Let's look at each in a bit more detail.
You never want salespeople wasting precious time or email sending reputation on chasing companies that will never buy from you or to which you'd never consider selling.
Enriched firmographics are a powerful tool to help define your ICP and to filter prospects to target those with the most potential.
Account-Based Marketing - Selection and Prioritization
A more refined play than outbound prospecting, ABM uses firmographics to more specifically refine the criteria and identify the one:one, one:few, and one:many ABM targets.
Lead Scoring & Propensity to Buy
Certain behaviors as observed through first, second, and third-party intent data can mean very different things depending on the context. If the CMO of an angel-funded 25 person company takes an action it will likely have very different implications to your sales department than the CMO of an F100 account.
In fact, one or neither might even merit your attention depending on your product-market fit. But if, for instance, you're focused on the start-up market, that action might indicate a much higher propensity to buy than if the founder had taken it.
This is an example of how the context provided by firmographics impacts the inferences you can draw from other components of the data stack - and therefore your lead scoring and propensity to buy models.
Too often sales enablement programs don't include dynamic notification and recommendations based on data changes. That's a miss. For instance, certain firmographic data changes could significantly impact (increase or decrease) the likelihood of an opportunity closing.
While strong sales teams constantly check with the entire buying team and frequently requalify pending opportunities, marketers have the opportunity to dynamically notify their sales colleagues of relevant changes in accounts with open opportunities.
Unified Data From Multiple Sources
The essence of a complete marketing data stack is that it incorporates multiple sources and types of data, follows best practices to continually cleanse and enrich it, and unifies the data.
In that context, each type of data typically becomes more powerful because the relationships and intersections create additional insights. For example, a company that's recently funded and recently hired a new CHRO is a likely candidate for applicant tracking and training platforms. That's where dynamic firmographics can help. Add technographic insights into the software they're currently running and contact level™ intent data observations of competitors with whom they're engaging, and you have a much clearer understanding of the situation.
Firmographics are an under-appreciated component of the data stack. It can support marketing and sales in various ways.
1. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/firmographics - HubSpot defines firmographic data as key information about the operation of enterprises themselves..including...Industry Type, Organizational Size, Total Sales & Revenue, Current Location, Ownership Framework, Growth Trends"
2. https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/firmographic-data - TechTarget defines firmographics as "types of information that can be used to categorize organizations, such as geographic area, number of clients, type of organization, industry, technologies used and so on."