This is Part 1 of our series all about account-based marketing. Read part 2 here.
What in the Hell is Account-Based Marketing?
At the highest level, account-based marketing is designed to directly target companies and take a more active role in acquiring their business, where inbound marketing is more passive. With account-based marketing, you identify the target company and go even further in finding the main decision makers. Rather than producing a piece of content that you hope they find, you’re producing content that you know will speak directly to their pain points and concerns.
While this gets creepy fast, the goal is to utilize all the tools available to you to stay in front of decision makers at the companies you feel will benefit most from your product/service.
More commonly seen with B2B companies that have a smaller target audience and longer customer journey, this can be a highly effective and efficient way to drive the top-notch leads that companies depend on.
Simply put, account-based marketing makes the bold assertion that companies should get more say in what customers buy their products/services, and through ABM, they can take a much more active marketing approach.
Important ABM Considerations
The Ideal Customer Profile
Most marketers use personas in some capacity. ABM strategies take the concept of the customer persona to the next level, expanding it from the individual to an entire company. Commonly referred to as an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), this method of audience targeting assesses company characteristics such as industry, pain points, annual revenue, and number of employees to determine whether it belongs on your list of target accounts. From there, you’ll bring it back down to the individual level, and identify people who actually work for the companies on your shiny new list!
The difference between ICP and a persona is subtle – ultimately, you do think in terms of targeting an individual. It’s just that with ICP, you actually go as far as figuring out exactly who that individual is. So now that you did all that work, it’s time to go get ‘em, tiger!
Most effective ABM strategies include content that’s relevant to members of your target account team. But instead of creating one piece of content that satisfies a general audience, you have to create a bunch of personalized content. But then on top of that, it also needs to be written in a way that it can get passed around the office. So while it may seem oxymoronic, you need to write and deliver personalized, general content.
Here are some ideas:
Target Job Titles
Let’s say your company offers third-party software support, and is proven to save companies millions of dollars a year. To a CFO, this new software support solution is a no-brainer. But to the CTO, the idea of switching to a new system is a nightmare. In this case, your message would be twofold. First, highlight the cost savings. But second, highlight how those dollars could be reinvested into the company to make the CTO’s department more effective.
Solve Pain Points
This is one spot where marketing and sales can really buddy up. What types of conversations does sales have most often with bottom-of-the-funnel prospects? What solutions do you offer that are better than anyone else in town? What information tends to get clients to sign? Figure out why clients choose your company over anyone else – and write persuasive content for your sales team to share with their prospects.
Write Case Studies and Testimonials
When you’re making a purchasing decision, you go through the same process as anyone else. You want to know if you’re making a good investment. If you’ve got a recommendation from a friend – even better!
Do a deep dive. Who do you have in common with your target accounts? Get testimonials from those people. Do you have any shared clients? Write case studies featuring those companies.
We’ve been talking about new customer acquisition this whole time, but let’s not forget your current customer base. It’s easier to retain a customer than it is to get a new one, so remember your current customers when it comes to your ABM strategy. Personalizing a message to someone you already know is a helluva lot easier than taking a shot in the dark. When it comes time for an upsell, you’ll already have at least one testimonial.
Get the Content in the Right Hands
So we keep talking about writing this highly relevant content. So what are you supposed to do with it? How are you supposed to get it to its intended audience? If you know your target personally, the answer is easy – just send it! But what if you don’t? Should you send it in a cake? Maybe a singing telegram?
While inbound marketing uses a number of methods to get content in front of the right audience, this is done through more general targeting. Where inbound might create a “look-alike” audience to capture users throughout the decision-making process regardless of the company they may work for, ABM is going to send content directly to an individual within a target organization.
Should I Abandon Inbound Marketing if I Go With ABM?
The short answer is, “Of course not!” As we’ll dive into in Part 2, we’ll look at how inbound marketing and ABM can go hand in hand and in many ways, have to work together. To reach your intended audience at a specific target company is step one, but steps two through conversion will depend a great deal on your inbound marketing strategy and brand messaging.
Want to talk more about how account-based marketing can help your business? Reach out to the team at Volume Nine today – we’re here to help!