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The ABCs of ABM

If you’re a B2B marketer with a pulse, the second acronym in the title of this blog couldn’t have scared you or made you scratch your head. You already know about the power of account-based marketing and have likely blended an ABM approach into your strategy.

(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from an upcoming ebook, The Predictive Playbook for Account-based Marketing. Subscribe to our blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss it!)

Why Does My Business Need to Understand ABM?  

Marketers traditionally market to individuals. While this philosophy doesn’t change with ABM, it requires you to step back and understand the role and involvement of each person involved in the purchase.

ABM is especially important if your organization sells a complex or sophisticated product or service. In those scenarios, usually more than one person in the buying organization needs to sign off on the purchase. Engaging and selling to a committee of buyers within an account means you need to understand top-level issues and goals of both the organization and each of the people on the buying committee. Then you need to develop messaging and content that speaks to each of those.

You should consider adding ABM to the mix if your:

Marketing messages and content cannot be applied universally to all prospectsOrganization has reached saturation with its horizontal strategy and needs to reallocate resourcesBusiness growth is leveling out

The ABCs of ABM

Now that you understand the importance of ABM, here’s how to go about putting it into play:

Identify high-value accounts. Choosing the accounts to target is more than coming up with a dream list of ideal customers. Create a realistic plan by pinpointing the types of accounts your organization can successfully close. Analyze your customer database to identify common traits but also think about accounts with a history of buying from companies like yours.Define your goals. Are you trying to acquire new customers or further penetrate existing accounts, perhaps by expanding into another of the company’s divisions? Your goals will help you develop the right list of targets. Make sure marketing and sales agree on the target accounts and criteria for success.Prioritize accounts. Run the list against a predictive model and tier the accounts by low, middle and high in terms of their likelihood to buy from you. Perhaps you’ll focus the majority of your efforts on engaging the accounts in the highest tier – such as by setting up meetings – while you nurture the middle and bottom tiers.Single out the key contacts within the organization. Who is likely to be involved in the research and purchase process? Develop personas or profiles for each, covering their pain points, strategic objectives, information preferences, purchase motivators and involvement in the buying process at a minimum.Focus with confidence using predictive marketing and lead scoring. One of the hardest parts of ABM is determining where to focus. In fact, many marketers game their lead scoring criteria to ensure target accounts get passed to sales. Predictive marketing can eliminate the guesswork and end-runs by pinpointing accounts and explaining why they make ideal targets. Even more, it will help you zero in on the most important attributes across your accounts and predict the likelihood of converting targeted accounts.Document your marketing and engagement strategy. Once you have created a list of target accounts and understand the nuances of each, develop a strategy and outline the tactics you’ll use to engage key stakeholders within those companies.Operationalize your efforts. Once you identify opportunities and develop your marketing strategy, you need to formalize how marketing and sales will work together. For instance, marketing needs sales to buy-in to marketing campaigns and messages it develops for ABM. And both groups must agree about how they will act upon the “recommendations” offered up by predictive analytics. A proven approach is to document SLAs that ensure timely follow-up with hot accounts.Align your content marketing efforts with your ABM strategy. Your content should interest and engage target accounts by focusing on the issues that are relevant in the account’s industry, the account’s organization and for each of the account’s stakeholders – at each stage of the buying cycle.Combine digital, physical and social channels. Remember that ABM is relationship-oriented, especially when you’re targeting enterprises. Keep this in mind as you work to engage senior executives who are not going to take your calls or read your emails. Some ideas include inviting key contacts to a dinner with your executives, attending an industry event with them, sending them a book or article with a personalized note attached or commenting on their blog posts. The point is to honor the fact that the account would be making a big commitment in buying from you and demonstrate that you are equally invested in the relationship.Measure and optimize performance. Align your tactics to goals and then define how you will measure your performance. Put processes and tools in place so you can measure results as you execute on campaigns. Over time, you can recalibrate to optimize spend on strategy.

Read the full ebook on account-based marketing here.


Written by

Amanda Maksymiw
June 16, 2015