Account Based Marketing: Not as Complicated as You May Think!

2019-08-21

Account Based Marketing. ABM. You've heard about it. You're a B2B. You know you should.
But how on earth would you find the time? And where would you start?!
Here's the thing: You don't have to make the perfect plan or buy the perfect system. The most important is actually to.... Get going! When you've taken the first few steps, the insights earned will help you both to define the next steps and to build a better relationship with your customers. Which in time will grow your business.

All Sales teams, at some point, will question what Marketing really does to help close the big deals Sales have been struggling with. It's here ABM comes into play. By adopting a targeted marketing tactic aligned with the sales efforts, Sales and Marketing can work together to deliver powerful results. Great marketing is the catalyst and spark behind successful sales, and it will significantly increase your chances of winning business both with current and new clients.
By having common goals, Marketing and Sales can support each account through the entire buyer's journey - from early phase awareness, through the research and evaluation phase, during the client's decision making, and then, after the sale by building long-term trust and loyalty. ABM should be seen as a method or a way of working, rather than a marketing activity.
Therefore, it's quite ok to start small. To go for trial-and-error. The key to successful ABM is to dare to make mistakes, to be flexible, and to adapt the tactic based on customer insights gained along the way.
Although ABM in its purest form implies a very engaged approach with a specific marketing plan for either one or a few selected account(s), I'd recommend a more generic approach to get started. You never know exactly when your intended target group is ready to listen to your messages or where they are in their buyer's journey. Hence, it makes sense to first focus on building knowledge and gathering actionable insights. Then adapt the activities and messages to individual accounts.

With a generic approach, getting started doesn't have to be difficult:

  1. Form your team to build a pilot case.
    Appoint an enthusiastic marketeer and a motivated customer account manager who both understand the value ABM can bring to build a pilot case.

  2. Choose your accounts or segment.
    Assuming that the most important objective of your first ABM activity is to gain insights about important accounts and their stage in their buyer's journey, it makes sense to target at least 25-50 accounts initially. They will most probably show different patterns and thereby present you with invaluable insights about their level of interest in your line of offerings.

  3. Define a goal for the pilot.
    Dedicate 3 months to the pilot. The goal(s) should primarily be project goals such as 'to understand the interest of the accounts', or 'to understand how we could set up our internal organisation.' It's important to realise, in a short-term pilot, it can be very hard to see any effects on leads or sales. Focus instead on goals that will establish your baseline for up-coming activities.

  4. Plan a few simple, efficient marketing activities to get going 
    To reach the goals of your pilot, focus on a few activities that will give you a lot of actionable insights, for instance:
    1. Online listening: Listen to the activities of your target accounts on your own website and/or on third-party sites related to your area of business.
    2. Launch an account-based advertising campaign: Start positioning your brand and understand what messages will engage the different accounts.

  5. Step 5: Action! And patience...
    Launch your marketing activities, dedicate three months to the pilot, and keep analysing the insights on a regular basis. Then take the learnings and consider how to take your ABM approach to the next step.

See, it's not as complicated as you might have thought!

By adopting an ABM mindset, you can turbocharge your sales and marketing, prioritise your resources to drive sales, and be seen by the people you want to see you. And it's quite ok to start small.

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