Implement Account-based Marketing in 3 Steps

December 4, 2017

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is getting serious attention these days. This is not a new technique, ITSMA coined the phrase back in 2004. But today, marketers, bloggers, and market research firms are fueling a resurgence in Account Based Marketing. But honestly, what is ABM? ITSMA originally defined Account Based Marketing as: “Treating individual accounts as a market in their own right.” Wait, what?

The core idea is to create a completely aligned sales and marketing process that builds relationships with a very specific and targeted set of accounts and personalizes your communication with multiple stakeholders, influencers, and decision makers within those accounts. There are many other fundamentals to consider such as account planning and mapping, sales-and-marketing alignment, offers, and metrics.

Great! How do I do that? Here are three tips to jumpstart your approach.

1. Define Your Accounts and Build a Legitimate List of Role-based Accounts

Isn’t a list the same everywhere? NO! And this is the foundation to a successful strategy.

Start with the organizations that you want to target – who are the enterprise orgs that would be interested in your product or services? Look internally – what do your best customers look like? Use predictive intelligence to focus on businesses that are in market for your product or service.

Next is looking at contacts. Salespeople think that they have their accounts covered with one contact at that company. For the most part, we know this is not true in today’s complex marketing and sales process. Or maybe they have 100 contacts at that company – but are they the right contacts? It’s important to understand the contact coverage at the account level to review the contacts you do have as well as the gap of decision-makers that you don’t have.

And deciding which contacts you need takes some time – you need to look within at your own product or service and acknowledge who benefits from it and why. It’s important to recognize the responsibilities and the buying roles of the prospect to develop a comprehensive list of influencers at each account. This is how you define your personas.

It’s also important to look at current customers – those who already know your brand. This is low-hanging fruit to expand your purchasing base at existing accounts across your portfolio of products.

2. Develop Prospect-specific Offers

Another key to successful Account Based Marketing is relevance and personalization, hence the importance of aligning Sales and Marketing. There are likely a small number of target accounts in a typical ABM program so campaigns and offers need to deliver high conversion rates. One idea is to personalize content marketing efforts by creating offers that are built specifically for a particular target account.

Traditional demand gen too often has been driven by product or promotional focused, generic messaging resulting in potential buyers tuning out because the content doesn’t speak to their needs or interests. To drive effective ABM content strategies, marketers need to invest in the intelligence and insights that will help them understand what will resonate with key decision makers and influencers. Then, design customized campaigns to reach them.

For example, while the Human Resources and Benefits Manager may benefit from the ease of your payroll management software, the Chief Financial Officer wants to be sure that the product is cost effective and maintains financial compliance, while the IT Manager wants to feel confident about a seamless system integration.

Here we have three very different personas at the same account who may influence or be the ultimate decision maker for buying your products or services. So, it’s paramount that you speak appropriately to each persona. There are many links in the chain to a purchasing decision and you need to be equipped with content for each influencer – one size does NOT fit all.

We recommend leveraging business intelligence and persona insights that will allow you to create and align messaging with what your target accounts and personas are looking for; not just what you want to tell them about your products or services.

3. Multichannel Engagement

According to Forrester, 75% of buying activity happens before a “hand-raise” making multi-channel engagement a critical part of the account based marketing mix. The buyer’s journey is no longer linear. We don’t send an email or mail a catalog at ‘point A’ and make a sale at ‘point B’, there is a lot of engagement required in between to make you stand out among the competition.

Today’s marketing and sales organizations need to develop a plan that allows them to serve the right content at the right time, where the buyer wants to consume it. Channels could include email, digital display, direct mail, telemarketing, live events and more. Similar to using intelligence to inform content development, marketers need to analyze the habits of their persona groups and prioritize channels based on where specific personas choose to engage.

It’s important to keep in mind that every marketer will have their own, defined marketing mix so it’s necessary to test new channels, measure performance and optimize.

It’s business, and it’s personal!

The key to a successful account based marketing strategy is to personalize communications to an account based on their current initiatives and challenges. Companies evolve quickly so smart vendors monitor changes and trigger events at their target accounts. Data is the new power currency in sales and marketing, and this is especially true if you want to succeed with an Account Based Marketing approach. Begin with your goals in mind, use data and predictive intelligence to discover target accounts and decision makers, generate relevant content, deliver an omnichannel experience and measure results.

Want to learn more about implementing ABM at your own company? Get the complete guide here.

*Note that by downloading this guide, you are agreeing to share your information with OpenView.

Vice President of Client Strategy

Frank has over 20 years of demonstrated success in building organizations; providing strategic direction to establish brand identity and positioning them for long term sustainable growth. Prior to joining Merit Direct as VP Client Services, Frank served as President of Asset Management at Oceanos, an innovative data management and research firm. While at Oceanos, Frank led the initiative to transform the company away from the traditional “broker” model to a research based management firm built to provide industry leading solutions in cooperation with its client/partner network. While at Oceanos, Frank drove a clear strategic plan to position the Oceanos brand as an Enterprise class solution. Clients such as SAP, Lenovo, RedHat, Citrix, IBM and other joined the Oceanos roster and became valued participants in Frank’s development solution product planning; these valued partners regularly joined Frank in presenting at industry events such as SiriusDecisions, Eloqua Experience and Aberdeen Revenue Forum. Frank regularly hosts Executive Summit dinner events which have featured speakers from organizations such as SAP, Lattice Engines, Docusign, Blue Coat Systems, Juniper as well as a guest list featuring industry leaders from many of the countries best companies.