Account based marketing is an imperative new component for modern B2B businesses to explore. Yet, within most marketing teams, it’s still not in play.
B2B account based marketing could be described as the process of targeting companies that fit the mold of the ideal customer, and not simply targeting the leads within them. Many consider this the flipping of the traditional marketing funnel onto its head.
The reason for ABM is fairly logical. The people within companies are business decision makers, but they aren’t your buyers. In essence, their company is your buyer. Decision makers aren’t likely to exhibit qualities that reveal a need within a company. The company, however, could send these signal and bare great similarity to existing customers in which a need could be predicted.
So why is ABM so often preached but less often practiced?
A big reason may lie in many businesses being predisposed to the traditional ways of marketing. Another may be as simple as knowing only the broad strokes of ABM but not how to execute.
The following steps offers and infrastructure for building what could become your new account based marketing strategy and even overall marketing strategy.
Set some goals
Don’t just do ABM for the sake of doing ABM. Understand and be able to articulate why you are incorporating the strategy into your plans. Start with the key performance indicators you are currently realizing, and engineer how the goal posts should move to meet overall sales objectives. If marketing KPIs align with sales goals, that’s good news.
Account based marketing is process more than an activity – and executives like to hear about the former more than the latter. The difference? Process is the approach to get from ‘where you are’ to ‘where you want to be.’ Activity is the daily set of tasks involved within the process.
Define new MQL and Marketing Opportunity creation goals and how ABM will serve the process get you there.
Know thy customer
Traditional ways of marketing tend to include casting an incredibly wide net over an entire potential marketplace, hoping to catch some value. Today, more intelligence allows us to leave the net behind.
Modern B2B companies are much smarter than predecessors when it comes to their businesses, mostly a result of more being data collected and tools to visualize it all. More transparency into data means better understanding who our customers are across many layers, and better decisions made without the guesswork.
Knowing thy customer means knowing detail around your current base of customers, but also knowing the detail of what makes them a good customer in the first place. Sizable ROI? Short sales cycle? Low churn? Knowing your best customers helps in reverse engineering a process to find more just like them.
CRM data is a great place to start. Customer relationship management software like Salesforce.com is a wealth of virtually all customer insights. Within it lies highly actionable data that will reveal who the top customers are, and what they all have in common. The lot of these trends personifies your target accounts.
A new kind of buyer persona
ABM personas should not be a person (i.e. the cute baseball-card-like powerpoint slides with a stock photo of a worker with their characteristics beneath). Account based personas should profile the company and it’s buyer-indicative characteristics. Geography? Company size? Technology used at company? Machine learning could even be used to find highly-obscure trends buried beneath the surface. For instance, algorithms may find that your ideal customer accounts all have Chief Marketing Officers who under 20 years old, or meditation rooms in their headquarters, or we’re founded in the Fall, or things more reasonably actionable that help depict buyer triggers.
Note: it’s important to remember that ABM is not about capturing all possible accounts who could become customers. There will always exist outliers and anecdotes that do not adhere to the norm. The goal of account-based marketing is not to capture all possible customers, but to define, target and capture those who fit the ‘best customer’ profile.
Crafting an artifact of your various target accounts helps helps in keeping eyes on the prize for the remainder of the process.
Account based practices do not seek to broadcast to the market and return you an audience. In ABM, you bring your own audience to the party.
Whether you use, Zoominfo, Lead411, Lead Genie or countless other database tools, they offer the ability to query large populations of companies down to smaller distilled results. Pull your ABM profile characteristics into an algorithm and craft a list of the companies who are not current customers but should be.
Execution, execution, execution
…execution. Once a list of companies exists who fit the bill, it’s time for… execution! Mostly any channels used within a marketing team could be retooled for finely-focused account base strategy. Email nurturing should focus on target accounts and what they care about, PPC should include mainly messaging that resonates with your intended target accounts, even Linkedin has recently rolled out an ABM component to Linkedin Marketing Solutions. Consider this approach laser-focused gorilla marketing.
Sales teams should be on board with newly executed focus, should also understand lowest-hanging customers, and expect leads to align with them. Being privy to the leads anticipated helps sales reps better prepare for initial conversations.
Measure everything often
Like everything else in marketing, ABM requires measurement. Remember those goals from earlier? They need to be met (preferably exceeded). Regular reporting should be presented to show progress of your approach to intended goals. Real-time reporting through CRM or marketing automation tools should be created so you could keep a finger on the pulse of performance at all times, and steer the ship accordingly.
The results of ABM should always delight you and your organization if done correctly. Since it’s an evergreen process, it will always be changing and never quite perfect, but comparing lead based marketing outcomes with account based results should always evoke confidence that you’ve taken the correct route for your organization.
For more information on incorporating ABM into your company’s approach, contact us for a free consultation.