Why B2B Companies Should Consider Account Based Marketing by Jae-ann Rock

target accounts
target accounts

You may have heard of Account Based Marketing (ABM), but you’re not exactly sure what it is or if it’s right for your business.

If you’re not yet using ABM, it is certainly worth investigating…

Consider this:

  • 92% of companies recognize the value of ABM and see the strategy as a “must have” for B2B marketing (From the 2015 State of Account Based Marketing, SiriusDecisions.)
  • According to the 2014 ITSMA Account Based Marketing Survey, Account Based Marketing delivers higher ROI than any other marketing initiative.

So, what is Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing is a targeted approach to B2B marketing, based on an account, or a company, rather than one individual buyer. Basically, instead of marketing to one individual buyer, you market to multiple decision makers within each target account.

The goal of an ABM strategy is to infiltrate each specified key account from multiple angles (i.e. working with multiple decision-maker contacts) to gain access, understand pains/needs, and provide aligned solutions to help address those issues across a large, complex business. Via Account Based Marketing, companies provide highly targeted, personalized content to key individuals within each target organization to develop a relationship, ultimately working together to help achieve the company’s goals.

Is Account Based Marketing Right for your Business?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) generally works well for B2B companies with goals to infiltrate large, key accounts with multiple locations or business units. For example, companies targeting Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 accounts will be able to more fully unlock the potential of each target account using an ABM approach.

In the broadest sense, Account Based Marketing consists of the following steps:

  1. Identify a set of key target accounts
  2. Build a network of decision-maker contacts within each target account
  3. Research those Accounts and Contacts to learn about their market strategy, service offerings, news releases, product announcements, business units, multiple locations, organizational/management structure, decision, etc.
  4. Use highly personalized and tailored marketing campaigns to generate interest among those contacts.
  5. Set measurable goals and track results.

Let’s dig into each of these steps further to provide some basic tips to consider as you develop an Account Based Marketing strategy.

  1. Identify Key Accounts to Target with an ABM Approach:

  • Determine the methodology you will use to identify key target accounts.
  • To assist, look at where have you had the most success to date… In what industry?
  • What is the target company size? Revenue? # Employees? Geography?
  • Titles/level within the organization? (Director, VP, C-Suite…)
  • Using these criteria, build an initial list of key target accounts.
  1. Build a Network of Contacts within those Accounts:

  • The ABM approach to marketing is based on the assumption that B2B buying decisions are often made and/or influenced by a select group of people rather than a single person. So, to perform Account Based Marketing effectively, you must have multiple key contacts within each target company. In essence, by using Account Based Marketing, each account is its own target market to which you will sell and marketing your services.
  • Therefore, you must build or purchase a list of key decision-maker contacts within each of your target accounts. Ideally, this list should include each contact’s name, title, phone number, email address and physical mailing address. (Always be certain to partner only with reputable, high-quality database companies if you decide to purchase a list. Remember, junk in = junk out.)
  1. Research Required:

  • Account based selling requires a strategy or unique marketing approach to each target account. Develop an arsenal of research about each account.
  • Dig in to uncover trends, new product lines, business units, key locations, mergers, acquisitions, leadership changes, etc. Gain some understanding of each account by investigating their website, recent news releases, etc.
  • Learn about your key contacts within each target account. What is their background and schooling? How long have they been at the present company? In the present role? All of this information will help you ask the right questions to quickly develop rapport, establish a relationship, and uncover needs.
  • The better insights you have, the better you’ll be able to align your marketing and sales efforts toward the potential needs and current reality of your target key accounts. This is paramount for account based marketing and selling to work well.
  1. Personalize your Outreach:

  • Develop highly targeted, personalized email and phone campaigns.
  • The goal of Account Based Marketing is to develop relationships within key target accounts, to build a network of multiple decision-makers and influencers, all involved in making the final decision to buy. It is imperative to use your company research findings to customize all messaging. Leverage key information about the company’s products and services, latest news releases, product launches, trade show attendance, etc. Understand their challenges and create content that addresses those issues.
  • By targeting your messaging according to this research, your audience will know you’ve done your homework, resulting in a higher response rate and increased level of trust. As trust increases, you will be able to develop a relationship with the key contacts on your target list to help them achieve the company’s goals and objectives. Become their trusted resource.
  • Engaging stakeholders at various levels and establishing a relationship with each will likely result in increased brand awareness across the target company, as well as a growing knowledge about your company’s offerings, solutions, and services.
  • Remember, people buy from people they like. Build a network of people who know and trust you within each target account. Eventually, these contacts may look to you as the preferred vendor-partner, coming to you with all their related needs.
  1. Set Measurable Goals and Track Results:

  • Develop objectives and measurable goals for each account, and each location, or business unit.
  • Test, track and measure your ABM campaigns to determine what is working and what’s not.
  • Continue to improve the kind of marketing insight content you provide to this special audience.
  • Test other marketing methods to infiltrate these key accounts: A highly targeted, value-added direct mail campaign might even make sense!
  • Consider instituting a referral program as you seek other in-roads into each business unit or company location.

Always seek to achieve the following results for each Contact within every Target Account:

  • Understand your potential buyer and their pain points.
  • Provide them with highly targeted, value-added content.
  • Build trust. Act as their personal consultant in your company’s area of expertise.
  • Provide optimal service at all times. Account retention is paramount, as are the resulting opportunities that will naturally arise from internal networking, cross-selling and/or up-selling within each target account.
  • Once you have performed a successful engagement within a target account, remember to ask for referrals to other business units or locations, so you can assist them as well.

One final note: How does ABM fit within your Overall Marketing Plan?

Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that specifically addresses each of your target sectors: small, medium, and large key accounts. The ABM approach assumes marketing and sales are closely aligned, to avoid over-marketing to key accounts. Ideally, one key account manager is assigned per target account, and that person helps develop and manage a comprehensive, highly personalized marketing and sales outreach plan to each target account.

You can overlay an Account Based Marketing strategy on top of a “once-a-month,” high-value email newsletter. But remember, do not to over-market “standard” marketing content to these important target accountsThe whole point of ABM is to provide key contacts at target accounts with highly customized, highly targeted outreach.  

By following the steps outlined above, over time, you will develop deep in-roads into larger high-value target accounts, while providing continuous value-added content to ALL prospects on a consistent basis.

Have questions about ABM or your overall marketing and sales strategy? We’re here to help. We offer an array of quality, results-oriented services to assist B2B companies in their marketing and sales initiatives.

Contact us today for more information!