Relative to the mass-market approach of the B2C world, B2B promotion requires a much more targeted approach. The customers are fewer and more discerning but commensurably more valuable and enduring — so whether you’re trying to win over a new client or simply keep an existing client on your side, you need to be very careful with what you’re putting out.
This is the reasoning behind account-based marketing, otherwise known as ABM. Instead of distributing generic marketing materials, it picks out specific prospects (or sets of prospects grouped by various shared elements) and creates personalized campaigns to suit them. It can be extremely cost-effective, but it needs to be done smartly (which isn’t easy).
To help you run a flourishing account-based marketing campaign, we’re going to look at five steps you should take along the way. Let’s get to them:
#1 Use a Lead-Generation Service
Account-based marketing can fail because you have too many prospects (ensuring that many of them are low-quality) or because you have too few prospects (this can easily happen if you’re passive about gathering leads. This is why there’s so much value in using a lead-generation service: you can make use of existing resources and quickly identify viable targets.
You can also take advantage of the work your competitors have put in by drawing from their user bases to identify prospects you may be able to sway to your side. Getting the mix right (not too many leads, and not too few, but all relevant) will set a precedent for your campaign — just as getting it wrong would hamper all your subsequent efforts.
#2 Conduct In-Depth Research
Once you have your list of leads in place, you need to put more time into researching them. Even if you don’t need or want to refine the list (and you certainly might), it’s important that you understand them as broadly as you can before reaching out to them. What other brands do they associate with? What causes do they believe in? What content do they produce?
Consider everything you’d want to know before making a sales pitch (e.g. what goes into a buyer persona in retail) and try to figure it out at this early juncture. Information is incredibly powerful. You want to make a positive first impression, after all, as a simple faux pas in your opening salvo could turn a prospect against you in decisive fashion.
#3 Prioritize High-Value Targets
It’s obvious that not every prospective customer is the same — it’s one of the main reasons why account-based marketing is so significant — but it’s also true that not every prospective customer offers equivalent value. If you intend to market your products and/or services to a massive brand with a huge budget, then that brand’s business is more important to you than that of a much smaller brand with limited funding, and your actions should reflect that.
Consequently, don’t try to put the same amounts of time and effort into each marketing account. If a client becomes more or less valuable due to a change in the budget or in the company’s fortunes, you can adjust your resource allocation accordingly.
#4 Choose Your Channels Carefully
The temptation with modern digital marketing is to stick to familiar channels. One company might prefer to use Facebook for regular content and Facebook Ads for PPC, for instance, and steer clear of other channels due to concerns about having enough time to operate effectively. This is sensible enough, but it isn’t the best way to carry about account-based marketing.
This is because every client (prospective or current) will have unique preferences. If you’re targeting a high-value business that fully embraces Snapchat, there’s no sense in trying to engage with it via the rarely-used Twitter profile. You may need to leave your comfort zone to market this way, but it’s going to be worth it.
#5 Keep Iterating and Improving
Iteration is the key to every type of marketing, because no strategy (or even tactic) is perfect from the outset. The only way to succeed is through trying things, seeing how they perform, and using whatever inferences you can draw to make your next attempts better. This is so notable when it comes to ABM because a campaign for just one client could run for years, and that length of time demands near-constant improvement.
When you and a client have little to no history together, inconveniences and misunderstandings are understandable, but things change as you build a long-lasting business relationship with a given company. Oversights effectively become insults, and with each year comes the expectation that things will get better somehow.
If you want to be capable of delivering a powerful conversion-driving campaign to a legacy client, you need to have reached the point of knowing what that client expects of everything from the format of your content to its tone.
Account-based marketing is challenging, lending itself to enduring campaigns that must consistently perform and improve to retain their efficacy. If you want to get it right (and you certainly do, given the impact it can have), then you need to take the right approach. Follow the steps we’ve looked at here, and you should get closer to your goal.