In spite of all the economic and social concerns that are front of mind these days, business still faces the same imperative – how do I engage new prospects and how do I win new business.
Sales teams are off the road and tradeshows and events are off the agenda for the foreseeable future. Anyone with a focus on the B2B Technology is looking for appropriate ways to engage with target accounts. Account Based Marketing (ABM) offers a simple yet highly effective approach to opening up those big ticket opportunities.
ABM – Why and How
ABM has become an established element of the marketing playbook for organisations that sell high value solutions to large, complex accounts.
Why is this? The short answer is that by complementing traditional demand generation, ABM is very effective at unlocking opportunities in new-logo target accounts as well as expanding coverage in existing accounts.
Why do target accounts need a special approach?
The accounts that are on the target account list will have been selected because they represent a big opportunity. This makes them very attractive, not only to your organisation but also to your competitors. To engage their attention and to differentiate from everyone else who is marketing to them, marketers need to get focussed.
By focus, I mean that senior people in these target accounts want tailored propositions. Focussed also means that these propositions must address the challenges that are on their priority list. Senior stakeholders tend to be time poor and rarely have the bandwidth for things that are merely “interesting”. Finally, focussed means that propositions need to be presented in a manner that they will find personally engaging. Everything else is just noise and your target personas tend to be pretty good at filtering out noise.
How should marketers approach target accounts?
Here’s a simple 4-step approach that will help ensure that your messaging doesn’t get filtered out when sizing up a target account for an ABM approach.
As you read through these steps, it will become clear that this is not an approach that works at scale. Take it as a rule-of-thumb that the longer the list of accounts, the less targeted you can be.
1. Profile the target account
Who are they, what opportunity do they present, what engagement has there been with them to date? What funnel stage are they at, what next actions are appropriate for each of them and in what timescales?
2. Map your personas
ABM is typically used to target complex accounts so take the time to understand the stakeholders and map out who the decision-makers are, who are the recommenders, who are the gatekeepers and who is in the pool of wider influencers.
3. Plan your Engagement
Each element of the stakeholder map represents an audience and you need to define your engagement plan for each. What’s your message for the business decision-maker? It clearly ought to be different from your message for the IT influencer. How should the message be delivered?
For larger audiences, like your influencers, email might be appropriate, and you could use Marketing Automation to track and lead-score the digital footprints of everyone in the target account.
For higher value recommenders and decision-makers, you might choose to use other channels, including physical mail. In fact, for really important individuals, you can take things a step further and there are many examples where psychographic personalisation has helped marketers to articulate propositions and deliver messages that are really engaging for key individuals. The main point here is that generic broadcast messaging is of little value – each audience needs a specific targeted message and a delivery mechanism that reflects their value in the engagement process.
4. Campaign Creation
When the time comes to create the campaign material, you are doing so with a clear understanding of the account you are targeting, the individuals you are speaking to and the problems your solutions will solve for them.
Your copy is personalised instead of using generic marketing messages. You are explaining how your solutions and capabilities map onto problems that you know they are already wrestling with. You are adding value rather than interrupting.
Why now is the right time
There is a huge amount of uncertainty right now regarding the economic and social outlook for the coming months. But one thing is clear: the organisations on our target account list will be trying to re-establish normal business operations as soon as is humanly possible. When they are ready, we need to be ready. We’re not sure exactly when they will be ready to engage with our sales teams, but we can be certain that they will be ready to engage with a compelling message first.
I would love to explore with you how you could use ABM and share our experience of this approach and some of the secret ingredients that make it work. You can contact me directly by email firstname.lastname@example.org