Too many salespeople complain that their company’s marketing just isn’t working – it doesn’t have any impact on their accounts’ spend and anyway, ‘it just isn’t relevant’.
Humans like to hear messages that closely reflect the situation we are in. For instance, if you were trapped in a broken elevator then you would be much more inclined to read a manual about how to get out of a faulty lift, than if you were sat on the beach on holiday (although the Get Out of A Broken Lift for Dummies Manual is my go-to holiday read). When customers are facing a particular challenge, they are much more inclined to be open to hearing about your solution to those problems.
But that’s what you are already trying to do, right? You think about your customer’s industry, take note of those challenges and structure your entire sales messaging around those challenges (or at least I hope you do if you’ve read any of my previous blogs on honing your sales messaging or getting customer conversations right).
Content marketing is great for getting specific messages in front of target clients, but account based marketing is the next evolution for enterprise sales strategies where sales reps are targeting large accounts or key account planning.
What is Account Based Marketing?
Account based marketing is defined by Gartner as the process of identifying ‘expansion opportunities from within an existing customer base’ based on creating ‘relevant content based on life cycle journeys’.
It is, in simple terms, a way of tailoring your marketing to specific customers, or even just one customer if they are worth it or strategically important enough. This way, you can thoroughly research your key customers, and target them with the messaging that you know will resonate, rather than guessing what might interest a broader range of customers.
This helps you to start offering a highly specialised and personalised marketing experience for your customers – increasing your credibility and alignment to their specific situations, plans, objectives, challenges and initiatives.
All of which is desperately needed, quite frankly, in an era of marketing where Forrester reports that less than 1% of leads generated will ever become customers. Some statistics are so alarming that it is worth pausing for a moment to think about what it means for us as marketers and sales people. Does it mean that marketing isn’t working and generating the right kind of leads or that sales people are doing a phenomenally bad job of converting those leads? Perhaps it’s a combination of the two issues – but either way, these are expensive mistakes to make when money is tight and marketing budgets have to deliver.
And the statistics back up the efficacy of Account Based Marketing (ABM), with research suggesting that 80% of marketers report that ABM outperforms other marketing investments. I think this must be down to the fact that no other marketing effort is going to be as personalised to specific customers as Account Based Marketing, therefore the chances of messages resonating with customers is instantly higher. You are, in effect, bypassing the first hurdle when you embark upon account based marketing.
Getting started with Account Based Marketing
The first step to getting started with Account Based Marketing is trialling it with a handful of customers – maybe even just starting with 3 clients to test if it works for you – after all, different marketing methods work for different types of businesses – there is no one size fits all approach despite what creative agencies might try to tell you.
Once you have selected your target clients – you also need to define the target roles you are going to be focused on when selling into your clients. Using social selling tools such as Artesian help you to stay updated with your prospects – keeping track of their activities across social media (in a less creepy way than that sounds), enables you to be well prepared for any sales meeting. But this also helps with marketing efforts – allowing you to build almost real-time marketing campaigns to target your prospects based on information they are sharing across their social media platforms.
An example of how you can use customers’ social media feeds to inform your account based marketing could be that you have seen that your prospect has made a recent acquisition that will result in a doubling of staff – and you sell a HR software platform so it’s great news for you. Your marketing efforts could then focus around how your software platform is perfect for companies struggling to integrate new employees, or around the pain of company mergers and acquisitions. It doesn’t matter that this particular campaign relates to only 1% of your target market, because if it increases your chance of winning this particular client that you’re focused on then it’s worth the effort. And, after all, you’ll be targeting the other 99% of prospects with your ongoing generic marketing efforts so you aren’t losing out. You’re just dramatically increasing your potential for conversion.
How does Account Based Marketing impact on sales activities?
This strategy then translates perfectly into your sales efforts, as your sales teams have very specific conversation starters to take into your clients – and collateral that relates directly to the needs of the customers they are going to visit.
And very often, this collateral doesn’t require a huge amount of time and effort to create – you can often take more generic content that you already have and tailor it to suit certain client scenarios. For instance, if you sell HR software, you probably have content around how it helps to keep track of large amounts of employees and multiple different teams. It wouldn’t take much to integrate some specific messaging around how business acquisitions complicate employee management activities.
B2B Account Based Marketing Checklist
To help you on your way, here is a really simple 5 step checklist to get you started on an Account Based Marketing campaign and test out if it can work for you:
- Select just one account to target; this account should be big enough to generate news and social media updates and have multiple potential buyer contacts within the account.
- Within that account, define which job roles you are targeting and look up contact names for those roles in LinkedIn. e. I want to target Logistics Managers, and John Smith is a Logistics Directors at ABC Company.
- Find out what those contacts are talking about on social media, and combine that with recent news and press releases published by the overall organisation.
- Create marketing collateral and messaging that aligns to those specific topics and get that out onto platforms where your client can see it – by doing so, you will probably also attract the attentions of clients in a similar position to your target customer.
- Follow up with those contacts you found via LinkedIn, targeting them with messaging around how your product/service will help the specific challenges to their business that you have identified from your research and the outcomes they could hope to achieve with your product.
Obviously no marketing effort is guaranteed but by being very specific to a client in your messaging, your chances of success should increase. Bear in mind that if it doesn’t work, it could be down to any number of factors, such as the particular customer you picked, the contacts within the account you chose or the type of messaging you tried, or even the time wasn’t right. However you should be able to pick out some elements that could work in future campaigns to help you get it right next time and be more targeted in your approach.
If you’re interested in B2B marketing, especially thought leadership development or content marketing, then head over to our blog or try out a few of the below posts:
How To: Content Marketing for Technology Companies
Want to be a thought leader? Start with content marketing