In its simplest form, marketing is the art of connecting people with products and services. Account-based marketing (or ABM) is a highly personalized approach to that art, with an extreme focus on relationships. In ABM (and in life), it’s not about what you know; it’s who you know.
Account-based marketing strategies differ from the typical marketing funnel approach, where a vendor casts a wide net and slowly filters and qualifies prospects until a sale is eventually made. Funnels rely on heavy visibility and extending resources to cold leads, with an emphasis on personas.
Account-based marketing flips that script by prioritizing the person, not the persona. Rather than marketing to literally everyone with cold calls, emails and billboards, companies using an ABM approach zero in on prospects with the highest probability of becoming high-value customers. When these quality prospects are identified, sales and marketing teams research them thoroughly — using resources like Boardroom Insiders to understand the whole picture — and tailor their outreach accordingly. Over time, ABM allows sales and marketing teams to develop and nurture relationships with customers for the ultimate sales breakthrough.
Effective marketing can be thought of as a form of reverse engineering. Imagine a customer, then work backwards.
In traditional marketing, businesses develop personas. They overlap Venn diagrams of demographics until they arrive at the most typical customer, and that’s the problem. No one’s typical. Some customers truly are more valuable than others.
The first step in account-based marketing is to focus on the best. It’s the surest way to obtain the most value with the lowest acquisition costs. The difference is, we’re not dealing with hypotheticals; we’re dealing with real, actual data. We start with a list of companies and the executives driving the bus.
Check out Boardroom Insiders’ executive lists, which include not just the names of top executives at the largest companies in the U.S., but also in-depth insight into their business priorities, interests and more.
Account-based marketing is especially effective in the B2B space. Businesses leave bread crumbs. Today, with the help of technology, it’s easy to compile a list of target companies.
Once you have your list, then it’s time to sort and filter. Order it by net worth. For publicly traded companies, this information is available online for free. For privately held, an educated guess is fine. This process is about probabilities. Ask yourself which companies are in industry sectors that would use your product the most out of anyone and which companies are most likely to stick around. Keep filtering until you are down to a handful of companies.
When you have sufficiently narrowed down, it’s time to dive deep. Read as much as you can about the business and its executive team. Resources such as Boardroom Insiders do the legwork for you, with comprehensive reports on C-suite executives and their priorities. The more you know about your prospects, the more you can personalize your offering.
Check out this case study about how one national telecommunications company used Boardroom Insiders to launch its ABM program and eventually expand it from a pilot project to a full-scale initiative.
And for more information on how executive engagement can support your ABM strategy, check out this free ebook on how CXO engagement makes ABM more effective.
When you know what clients are after, it’s easier to align your value proposition to match.
Assuming you’ve done your homework and learned everything you could possibly know about your prospect, take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Try to imagine what’s next. After all, business is constantly changing. Ask yourself the same deep questions your prospect is wrestling with every day. Where is the industry headed? Where does your prospect fit in that new world?
Once you have gathered key insights, see if you can tailor your value proposition or outreach to that new environment. For instance, let’s pretend a new regulation is on the horizon that will shake up your prospect’s industry. Instead of cold-calling them about your product or service, you could invite them to your educational webinar on the regulation. Now, you’ve changed the conversation and elevated you and your company from potential vendor to thought leader and valued consultant.
With a little creativity, developing a marketing plan can be the most enjoyable part of account-based marketing and a smart way to break the ice.
When you’ve finished the preparation in account-based marketing — identification, research and strategy — a magical thing happens. You cut to the chase. You close faster.
This happens because the hard work is already done. Account-based marketing takes away all of the getting-to-know-you small talk and all of the headache associated with winging it on cold leads so that, when you interact with an ABM-targeted prospect, you carry yourself with professionalism. You add value. You save time, both yours and your prospect’s.
Preparation breeds confidence. Understanding where a product or service fits in a prospect’s world makes it easier to speak directly to that line of thought, whether it’s the subject line of an email or the opening in a phone call.
Once the high-probability value proposition is out in the open, a prospect gives instant feedback. The right offer creates a dialogue immediately. From then on, the conversation consists of objections, fears and excuses. You already knew them beforehand, too. That’s the beauty of account-based marketing. You know the prospect inside and out because they’re already your account. They just don’t know it yet.