“Don’t count the people you reach, reach the people who count”
Legendary ad man David Ogilvy’s famous quote may be a few decades old. However, in the era of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), it’s never been more relevant.
Unless your product is a world-first, you’re probably competing in a crowded marketplace. You’re then faced with the timeless question of how to differentiate. Of course, you have the traditional options such as pricing, branding, or positioning. However, you still need to attract the attention of your target.
That’s where ABM comes in. Over the past couple of years, this form of marketing has become a hot topic:
Image from Google Trends, showing number of Google searches for the phrase ‘Account-Based Marketing’
So when should you use it?
1) Targeting larger organisations
The precise nature of ABM makes it ideal for targeting larger organisations, where different departments often require different approaches.
You create a campaign specific to accounts, job functions, even individuals. This makes your offering more relevant. It’s been likened to ‘fishing with a net, rather than a spear’.
2) Competing against incumbents
Once a company chooses a supplier, it’s often easier to stick with what they know, rather than risk making a change.
That’s why the costs of customer retention are usually far cheaper than customer acquisition – 5 or more times cheaper in some cases.
However, this can lead to complacency among incumbents. Service levels can slip, there may be ‘over-promising and under-delivering’, individuals move on which can change business relationship dynamics. If there’s a hint of this, a timely ABM campaign can be the spark that gets things moving.
3) Aligning sales and marketing
With ABM, marketers don’t generate leads and hand them to the sales team for closing. Instead, both usually work from the same target list.
Naturally, fewer targets equals more pressure. However, this approach is ideal when there’s a longer sales cycle – a scenario familiar to many operating in B2B.
What’s more, it leads to increased fluidity within the two disciplines, helping to build team spirit.
4) Integrating campaigns
In B2B, the majority of purchasing decisions are made collectively. There’s input from procurement, finance, the end user. There may also be CEO and/or Board involvement.
Here’s where a unified message, adapted to each department, can make you stand out from the ‘noise’ from a crowded marketplace full of competitors.
Deciding when to go for ABM
Of course, ABM isn’t a panacea. After all, teams don’t have limitless capacity to continuously tweak marketing efforts. That makes it all the more important to choose the right target accounts in the first place. Here are some factors to help you decide:
- Target’s revenue history and projections
Are they growing and likely to be seeking partners to enable expansion? There’s no point going after a target account that’s in trouble, or likely to have different objectives
- Technological capability
Does your team have the experience and knowledge to create personalised campaigns, such as emails and landing pages? Marketing automation tools can help with initial nurturing at the top of the funnel. However, ABM requires more in-depth capability.
- Key players
Who are the decision-makers within your target accounts? What’s their buying history, and do any of their achievements match up with what you offer?
- Communication channels
Where’s the best place to reach your customers? Review their activity on channels such as social media, online, print, events and conferences. Then decide what would be most effective, and in what combination.
ABM in action
Here are a couple of examples, with results achieved, which show why ABM has become a crucial tool for generating new business:
- large customer experience software vendor
- 8 retail banks + 8 insurance companies
- assess their individual responses to social media queries
- analyse, benchmark & produce a professional, consolidated report
- build a profile of the customer experience team per account
- distribute the report per account with personalised cover letter
- offer guidance and advice on improvements via face-to-face meetings
- $2.2 million new revenue in 12 months
- 60% meeting to conversion ratio
global consultancy & technology services company
- 5 key accounts & 20 corporate telco accounts
- assess their current identity management capabilities online
- build a profile of the identity management team per account
- distribute personalised printed material with value-add global research
- narrow-cast linkedin sponsored updates to the 25 accounts promoting content
- personalised email follow-up, tracking opens, clicks & conversions
- private networking dinner with one account per table
- $3 million pipeline in 9 months
- 10 meetings, 32 VIP attendees