Remember the good old days, when a company formed a committee and “did something?” Then the process became more formalized and the science of Project Management was born, complete with milestones, Gantt charts and project administrator roles. We’re seeing the same thing happen now with account-based marketing, which has shifted from being plain ol’ B2B website design to a new genre of marketing completely. Here’s what it is, and how you can make it work for your business.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing (AMB) is a strategy that focuses your promotional resources at a very specific group of companies in your target market. Effectively the next step in B2B marketing, ABM is finding favour with agency leaders and business development executives. A survey of this demographic by the Alterra Group showed 97 percent of respondents believed ABM delivered a higher return on investment.
This marketing method is much more direct than simply targeting an industry niche. In the days before marketing became a digital science, many B2B sales consultants would physically drive around looking for the “right” sort of company to market their products to. A company offering property management services, for example, would look for buildings of a suitable size and location and find out who to approach to get their foot in the door. ABM is the modern-day equivalent of that, and thanks in part to technology, you can target the accounts you want with personalized campaigns designed specifically for each prospect, using the most updated marketing methods available.
Getting Started with ABM
Developing your account-based marketing strategy begins in much the same way all strategies do:
Gather the Data
The availability of reliable data is crucial, to enable you to avoid the “driving around” part of the original process. Big data these days can be obtained from multiple sources, including:
- mining your past sales and existing customer records
- viewing external publications such as PEW Internet Research
- purchasing research reports from Ipsos, Forrester and Angus Reid, among others
If you are a member of an industry association you might have access to any organizational data available. Keep in mind that ABM is not about “spraying and praying.” It’s about developing the intelligence needed to help you pinpoint your ideal clients, and then aligning your sales and marketing processes to be able to reach them effectively.
Do the Analysis
Finding the right tools to analyze your data is the next critical step, and fortunately there are multiple vendors offering this type of product. If you don’t foresee your company using an analytics tool continuously, you might benefit from contracting with a professional marketing agency or consultant who can leverage economies of scale to get the services you need. Access to predictive analytics, in particular, will enable you to create comprehensive visuals of the behaviour you can expect to see from your target accounts, the time-frames in which to expect them and methods to use for reaching them.
Align the Content
Developing and executing an account-based marketing strategy includes preparing content aimed at the individual prospects you want to acquire. To do this, you’ll need insights such as:
- Details of your target account’s marketplace, news, trends, growth drivers, merger and acquisition activities
- Information about the target account, such as their SWOT analysis, competitors, organizational structure, culture and values
- The key contacts on the account, their levels of authority, their background experience and knowledge, particularly in your field
- The name of the vendor currently used to supply the products or services you offer, and if possible the value of the contract, the size of the target account’s budget and future plans.
Armed with this information, you can create content for each target account that speaks directly to the prospect’s needs and circumstances. This might sound like unnecessary expense, but if you’re after a contract with an annual value of millions of dollars, chances are good it’s worth your while. Instead of simply revamping your B2B website design, it might be time to consider a whole new approach to your marketing.