Account-based marketing (ABM) is growing in popularity in the B2B universe as a means of winning important customers, and for good reason. A few key customers can be the foundation for exponential growth and a huge new market presence.
But with all the planning and careful execution involved, there’s a lot of confusion out there on how to do it right.
Here, we’ll explore 3 important things for you to identify in order to win the hard-fought quest for a prized account.
Identify the “Why”
With ABM, you’re harnessing a lot of resources — time, money, and labor — to use towards just a few, highly-desired large accounts. Of course, that means fewer resources for “traditional marketing” and other business functions.
Given that, you must narrow down the wish list of dream accounts to the best possible choices. Make sure you know from the start why you’re ultimately choosing each account and why now.
The company you’re targeting uses a technology that’s a perfect match for your platform or area of expertise;
- A particular prospect is so high-profile, you’ll quickly gain a strategic advantage among your competitors in that prospect’s niche; or
- The target company just made a big organizational shift, and the change aligns more closely with the value of the solutions you’re selling.
Any number of big quantitative or qualitative factors like these can help you decide which accounts are worth pouring the lion’s share of sales and marketing resources into. Consider current revenues, growth priorities, and market positioning — and determine, based on your company’s needs, which accounts matter most.
Identify the “Who”
Once you’ve answered the “why these accounts?” question and your sales team has selected the targets, it’s time to get even more specific.
The marketing arm of your company now has a crucial challenge: determining exactly who — that is, which living, breathing human beings — your company will reach out to at those target accounts.
Each stakeholder involved in a complex B2B buying decision will have different needs and priorities. For that reason, you’ll need to really sketch out buyer personas in detail to help you identify:
- Decision-makers — the people that will make the final decision to purchase, often middle managers;
- Executive leaders — those charged with leading the entire company and executing the vision on a broad scale;
- Those in charge of budgeting — depending on the organization, this could be the accounting department, C-suite executives, or the board of directors; and
- End users — the employees who will actually end up using the product every day at work.
You’ll have to target each of those categories with personalized content, on the basis of a trusting relationship and thoughtful marketing (being aware that some of these roles, depending on the target company, can overlap.)
By fleshing out buyer personas for each category with pain points, buying motivations, organizational roles, and potential objections, you’ll ensure that your content hits the right mark with the right point-person.
For example, end users might be targeted with a simple brochure illuminating use cases. And, you might arm the decision-makers with a benefit-driven whitepaper explaining your product’s value.
Ultimately, for your ABM efforts to be radically successful, you’ll have to do your homework, enriching your buyer personas with enough info that your content is easily understood, persuasive and shareable…making it easy for internal stakeholder groups to “sell” each other on your product.
Identify the “How”
Now comes the part where you’ll have to actually execute your ABM venture.
First, personalization is everything in ABM. The goal is to handcraft a premium experience for the target prospect…carefully leading them through the journey, easing their pain points at every touchpoint, until they can’t help but be impressed and persuaded by your thoughtful content.
It all starts by connecting to each stakeholder with strategic content marketing that resonates on a personal level. For example:
- Blog posts or short explainer videos can be created in response to a specific question from a point person.
- Calls-to-action in your web copy might use words and phrases that the right individual — perhaps based on actual meetings — would immediately “jump on.”
- You might design different email sequences for each persona, persuading each one about your product in a way that speaks to them best.
- You could create specialized content for each stakeholder — perhaps a personalized video presentation for a C-suite executive, or a case study for a decision-maker.
While those messaging efforts are effective as online marketing campaigns, don’t forget about offline advertising. While some offline methods can be very targeted (for example, in-person networking at events, or placing ads or articles in a print trade magazine that you know is read by tech professionals at the target company), others are less targeted and more useful for general brand awareness, such as billboards and radio commercials.
Hitting your prospect in a variety of formats, through a wide range of channels, helps ingrain some brand recognition in the people you’re trying to reach at the target organization…and that matters.
Finally, a crucial part of the “how” is, namely, how your sales and marketing teams will collaborate. Try to ensure your teams are in sync with prospecting, content strategy, research and intelligence gathering, and lead nurturing. For example, marketing can contribute some great sales enablement content, and sales might have some crucial field tidbits that will aid marketing in creating educational collateral. The result — a better customer journey, and maybe even a shorter sales cycle.
Account-based marketing involves a lot of sales and marketing “sweat equity,” but the results are very much worth it. And despite how that sounds…it doesn’t have to be exhausting. Identify the “who,” the “why” and the “how,” and closing landmark accounts will be well within your enterprise’s reach.