“If we did realize the difference between the vital few and the trivial many in all aspects of our lives, and if we did something about it, we could multiply anything that we valued.”
— Richard Koch (acclaimed author on how to apply the 80/20 rule)
When it comes to my own B2B Demand Generation priorities as a business development executive, I prefer big game hunting to skeet shooting — and Account Based Marketing (ABM) is your elephant gun. There’s good reason why this methodology has gotten so much recognition:
- 84% percent of B2B marketers believe ABM delivers higher ROI than any other marketing approach.1
- 96% of B2B marketers leveraging ABM report a positive impact on marketing success.2
Here are three first steps to accelerate the effectiveness of your marketing. The best part is, you can use these whether you’re new to ABM or have been at it for years.
What Is ABM?
Do you want your organization to be seen as a leader, not just a supplier? Maybe you want to move from “vendor” to “strategic partner” status. Take the ABM approach. Basically it’s a method for creating a marketing conversation that’s highly targeted and that demonstrates your deep knowledge of your prospect’s business and technology concerns. As ITSMA has pointed out, “It’s a way to increase your customer’s awareness of the total value you offer that heightens their interest in you.”3
When Would You Use It?
A. Breaking Through to Strategic Prospect Accounts/Audiences
If your organization has selected an “A-list” of accounts to go after, ABM can serve as a powerful bridge to address business/buyer needs while leveraging relevant (and often personalized) insights and data points.
B. Retaining and Growing Customer Relationships
Customer retention and growth can be one of the most fruitful returns for your marketing dollars, yet many marketers walk right by these opportunities! If you’ve got a beachhead in one division of a large organization, why not leverage the insight and success you already have to capture more business? Again, it will be important to show value to the customer, and specifically address a known business challenge or expose a new area of growth.
C. Accelerating Pipeline and Nurturing Key Prospects
Proving that your organization understands the specific needs of your buyer will help you establish credibility and build customer confidence. From my experience, this is a perfect time to accelerate the sales cycle and ensure you’re on the short list.
3 Steps For Getting Started
1. Identify and Understand the Target
When you’re on an elephant hunt, it means you pass by the small-game targets. Here’s what that means in the ABM approach:
- Start with the low-hanging fruit. Identify segments with proven success. You can then augment (potentially 1/3 of the list) with a segment or two that you’d like to penetrate.
- Start small, then build over time. There’s no magic number, so start with 50-500 accounts, not thousands. You’ll also want to be sure to identify specific contacts within those organizations (ideally, 2-5 contacts across the buying/influencing roles).
- Collaborate across your organization. If a list build is necessary, marketing and sales should work together to identify companies and contacts. For a more detailed set of recommendations around ABM list building, check out this post. (Editor’s Note: Mintigo also helps in this area by identifying the contacts in target accounts that will most likely buy from you.)
2. Build a Meaningful Conversation Based on Buyer/Account Insights
Understand the characteristics and insights that make your target audience tick—and address those needs FIRST. There are dozens of approaches for doing this well, including those shared in a great post by my colleague at Babcock Jenkins. Bottom line: Do your homework. Understand what the key use cases and business needs are for your buyer at an account level and be as personalized as possible. And don’t forget the basics: be interesting and engaging!
Technology Accelerator: This is the ideal use case to leverage LinkedIn Groups and Social Listening Tools. Solutions like Mintigo provide data about an account that the model has identified as likely to buy, such as whether a company uses certain technology, whether they are hiring for certain key positions or whether they have existing titles in their org structure.
3. Surround the Audience — Inform, Surprise & Delight!
Once you’ve built conversations to engage your audience, determine the best channels to engage your buyer. Orchestrate your conversation and channels thoughtfully and frequently across the length of your buying cycle. Channels that factor into my consideration set include:
- Offline Channels:
- Events (this could include VIP experiences and peer-to-peer engagement)
- Direct Mail is still alive and an incredibly successful tactic
- Phone calls (which serve as a great “boost” to the other channels)
- Email Marketing
- Digital Marketing on relevant sites
Technology Accelerator: There is a growing set of digital channels that allow you to directly reach your ABM targets at a company and/or contact level. This includes Demandbase, Terminus and LinkedIn.
And of course, measure and optimize! There are chapters to be spoken here—but like any other marketing initiative, track what’s working and optimize. Be sure to consider metrics specific to the Contact and the Account. Ultimately, you should have a clear view into how well are you engaging your key accounts.
If you haven’t adopted an account-based approach to your B2B marketing yet, I’ll leave you with links to two brief examples that show why it is a fast growing area of focus for many B2B marketers:
- Nuance: They engaged 46% of their targets and delivered a 19-1 ROI.
- CenturyLink: 26% of targets won and an 8-to-1 ROI. (I was fortunate to have had a hand in this program)
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of other success stories about Account-Based Marketing. I’d love to hear yours—especially those with a Technology Accelerator!
1 Demandbase, 2015 The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing.
2 Demandbase, 2015 Account Based Marketing Benchmarks.
3 ITSMA 2011: Three Ways to Apply Account-Based Marketing Successfully.