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Should you switch to account-based marketing?

If your organization sells enterprise level solutions, you’re likely familiar with the concept of ABM, or account-based marketing. ABM represents the most targeted approach possible: marketing directly to a single company or organization. Under an ABM strategy, you identify the key companies that you wish to do business with, and develop a marketing approach that’s customized for each one of them.

ABM isn’t just about changing a few names and references in your boilerplate prospecting emails, though. Account-based marketing is based on an in-depth knowledge of your targets, from their company history all the way up to the names, titles and responsibilities of the people who’d be on the Decision Making Unit (DMU). You also need to conduct exhaustive research into the challenges and pain points of the organization, from materials or labor shortages, for example, to the very specific pain points that your solution can fix.

Account-based marketing makes a lot of sense for organizations who sell to very large companies. It’s much more cost-effective to put your marketing resources toward the most profitable types of prospects, rather than a scattershot approach. And if you’re a B2B marketer for an enterprise level solution, you probably already have a good idea of who your key target prospects are. Consider these steps to get started with account-based marketing:

1. Choose your targets

Who is your ideal customer? What type of organization is your solution or product designed for? Which of your current customers are the most profitable for your company? There are probably a number of companies that are a perfect fit for your offering, and a larger number who could get some benefit from it, with a few tweaks here or there. Forget about these ‘maybes’ and focus only on the organizations for whom you know your solution will deliver maximum benefit and results. 

2. Do the research

Find out all you can about the companies on your target list. What are their histories with suppliers or partners offering products similar to yours? Who are the people you need to connect with at each organization? Where did they work before? (Maybe they worked at one of your customers in the past.) What are the challenges for each organization, and how are they attempting to meet them? What are the challenges for the area or department that you are selling into? (i.e. finance, operations, IT, administration, etc.)

3. Define the buyer personas for each target company

The names, titles and org charts are easy, since you can find most of this information online. Then add preferences and pain points for each persona, based on your research, and input from sales.

4. Develop a customized marketing plan for each target

Create a step-by-step plan for each part of the customer’s journey, for each of your targets. Who do you need to communicate with? What do you want them to know about your company and solutions, across the awareness, consideration and decision stages? Map out the journey that you would like them to take, the platforms you will use to reach them and the content/messaging you will use at each step.

5. Seek input and insight from sales

A big benefit of account-based marketing is how it strengthens the alignment between marketing and sales. Your sales team will have a lot of the information you need to complete your research on your targets. They probably have contacts at many of your targets already. And they will have lots of insights that can help you in the process, on how you can reach specific people or roles, and what support and information the prospects need at each stage. They will also be able to tell you how well your marketing programs are working, in real time.
A lot of this sounds similar to how your Key Account Managers, or KAMs, operate, in terms of personalization and attention. But there’s a key difference. Because these organizations are still prospects, not customers, in many cases they’re not yet on the radar of your KAMs.
As you strive to get these prospects to the stage where your Key Account Managers get involved, keep in mind that your KAMs are experts in determining which customers will be most profitable for your company, and ensuring that all of your company processes provide key accounts with smooth, streamlined and productive experiences. So there’s a lot you can learn from your KAMs, that you can build into your ABM strategy. And by working closely with your Key Account Managers to shape your ABM strategy, you can ensure it’s focused on just the types of customers that they prefer.

If you’d like to learn more about account-based marketing, and how you can apply it to your B2B marketing for better returns, please reach out to Anne-Mie at +32 55 591 007 or anne-mie.vansteelant@livingstone.eu.

Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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