In this blog, we take a look at how to create a solid Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy.
It is getting even harder for B2B companies to generate engagement with their target audience. In the tech sector there is significant convergence, on paper at least. A lot of organisations appear to do exactly the same thing, and all are competing for the same audience mindshare.
Continuing the same old approaches and expecting the same or better results is madness. Where you were once one of a handful of companies in your space competing for potential customers, you are now more likely to be one of tens or even hundreds of companies saying the same thing. Your potential customers’ inboxes are full, and they see many thousands of digital ads per day.
Differentiation or Relevance
With such noise it is becoming increasingly difficult to clearly differentiate; everyone has exceptional service, everyone’s solution is market-leading, feature-rich and the best available. This is where ABM comes in turning the focus to Relevance as a way to Differentiate.
Let me explain. As consumers we look at things not in terms of ‘what it does,’ but ‘what it can do for me.’ We need to relate to the product or service and quickly understand how it is going to be valuable to me – how it is going to save me time, improve my quality of life or simply make me the envy of the neighbours. In the B2B world the same is true. We are marketing to individuals and those individuals need to see the impact and value to them.
Generic B2B marketing is just that; it talks generically and leaves the work to the individual to relate the proposition to their world – with so much choice out there, B2B buyers simply can’t be bothered to do your work for you – you have to do this.
Account Based Marketing (ABM)
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is the way of segmenting your target addressable market into small definable clusters. These could be industry sectors that face a specific challenge, scale-up companies that face a different challenge or companies that are currently focused on cost reduction. The secret here is not segmenting your clusters by a convenient label but segmenting by a common challenge.
Below I look at some of the steps a marketing agency should take when creating their ABM strategy:
Walk in the Shoes of your Specific Audience
By defining cluster audiences with a common challenge, you are then able to place yourself in their shoes, understand what is important to them and what is a priority for them. This enables you to step up from just being interesting, to being compelling.
This requires you to switch your focus from internal looking out, to external looking in. What is it that you offer that is relevant to your cluster? What are the pains you solve for these specific organisations? What are the gains you can deliver them?
Find solutions to your audiences’ problems
If I see specific content on how Marketing Agencies can scale faster with an XYZ collaboration solution, I am far more likely to engage than if I just received a generic message about why XYZ is better than ABC – who cares?
ABM Is a Strategy Not a Tactic
The theory of Account Based Marketing is a compelling argument and I rarely have anyone push back on the theory. However, I do see a lot of organisations fail at executing ABM as they think of it in terms of a tactic, a campaign, rather than a marketing strategy.
Pitfalls of Account Based Marketing
Common pitfalls include:
- Selecting a cluster based on organisational type rather than common challenges.
- Telling the target audience what they already know – patronising.
- Starting specific but quickly reverting to ‘generic.’
- Thinking credibility can be created by a single campaign.
Account Based Marketing has to be a strategy, and a strategy is not a campaign plan; it is a clearly thought through way to achieve a specific result. This is why I always start by defining what it is we are looking to achieve: X new business deals, a particular lighthouse account, etc.
Due Diligence with your marketing clusters
Once you know what you are looking to achieve, you are half-way there in terms of defining how you are going to achieve it. The next thing is to do your due diligence; why are you selecting this particular cluster? Have you had success here before? Do they have a specific challenge you can uniquely address? What value do you offer above your competition?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know best what this cluster needs; you don’t. Talk to relevant existing customers, talk to salespeople who are engaging with this audience, do research, maybe even engage with an independent body – walk in their shoes.
From here you are much better placed to understand the personas of your target clusters, what their pains and desired gains are, how they consume content and how best to reach them.
Be patient with your Account Based Marketing
Finally, be realistic in the time it takes to engage with this audience and nurture interest to gain the credibility that will differentiate you – many organisations fail because they go for the money shot too early. Be patient, be credible and be relevant and your ABM approach will cut through the noise and deliver the results you are looking for.
Cremarc is a specialist B2B account-based marketing agency. If you would like to have a virtual coffee and brainstorm about ABM, I am always happy to do this. Simply reach out to me at email@example.com.
Want to read more about digital advertising, read our blog post on Getting to Know your Target Audience.