Account Based Marketing: The New Strategic Approach For B2B Marketing Success.
Shifting from Traditional Marketing to Account Based Marketing, or ABM, is not only the latest thing, it might well be the greatest thing – if you believe the latest buzz – as well as some recent case studies that indicate its effectiveness. Rooted in an alignment between marketing, sales and management, the strategy is to create a more finely-honed plan aimed at “Key” targets, using hyper-targeted advertising campaigns and content to deliver more value. More than just marketing generically to a company – B2B Account Based Marketing is highly personalized to better identify the people who can then benefit from your marketing efforts and champion your brand. This is the first article in a series that will help to explain, and offer ways to implement, ABM at your organization.
Implementation of ABM for B2B companies is much more widespread in certain sectors. Some manufacturing and industrial companies have been slower to embrace this new trend, likely due to the size and scope of their marketing departments, existing marketing processes, and the requests and focus of other departments (such as sales and management). Smaller marketing departments may need to seek external marketing support in order to initiate and sustain on-going marketing efforts required for successful ABM campaigns. ABM, after all, doesn’t just require adopting a new strategy. It also requires consistent, on-going marketing and sales alignment over time.
Account based marketing is based on a completely new approach. Traditionally, marketing used a big net to catch a lot of fish. (Even if that big catch of fish were all qualified, few companies would have the resources to reach out to each one in a meaningful way.) More likely, out of the many fish you captured, only some would be prospects. Now consider what would happen if you flipped this model. Capturing a few, choice fish in a small net, designed to catch those particular fish. You might get fewer fish, but these would be the fish you desired to catch… the best fish in the sea. If you have a team prepped and ready to take this fishing trip, your odds of a successful haul go up exponentially.
First things first: Assemble your team.
Before you can implement an ABM strategy, you need to know the answer to a very important question. Who is going to implement this? In order to ensure any ABM strategy works, you need to have a collaborative group agree to not only identify target prospects, but to work together to reach those prospects, to follow through and to follow up. In other words, Marketing, Sales, Production, Engineering, and Management all need to be aligned on a plan for success. Marketing alone cannot run industrial Account Based Marketing; collaboration is key. For companies whose ABM team is small, outside support may be needed.
Brainstorm the accounts to target.
Because this strategy centers around the quality of a relationship, versus quantity, and a comprehensive understanding of an industry and identification of a key target is critically important and should be approached with thought and care. Account Based Marketing is more than just a list of key companies, i.e. the accounts you want to land; ABM means knowing the accounts where you have already invested time and energy and have deep, true demonstrated value to key decision makers. Those accounts must align with your company’s future business goals – and have a company-wide acceptance that these are the types of targets you want. In ABM, you identify the key decision makers at a target company and then further determine where the relationships are strongest – what person will become our “Champion” and who is the “Key” that unlocks the door at that company. Keep in mind, this profile needs as much data as possible in order make your outreach relevant.
Having identified our “Key” and made a data-rich profile, you can make copies of this “Key” – similar profiles at new companies – thereby expanding your list of targets. Knowing you have the skills and understanding, and important ground work laid from our first profile, you can now leverage that groundwork and build up a target group. If relationships need to be forged, then your team will need to make a plan to entice that Key Decision Maker and get a dialogue started. If a relationship already exists, it needs to be strengthened. This is where marketing starts to flex its muscle, providing your targets with essential tools and content that help them do their job more effectively. And make the relationship with your company indispensable.
Put together an IPA (Initial Plan of Action).
Good Account Based Marketing is about more than platitudes. Announcing your intent – “we want more engineers at automotive companies” – isn’t enough. You have to dive into the details. Was one of the identified “ideal” targets on your list looking to adapt to new automation techniques? Did they need a reliable supplier on the other side of the globe? Were they looking for reliable financial forecasts about the price of aluminum? Getting with your team to truly understand these customer profiles is valuable in assessing what motivates these customers. This understanding allows marketing to build touchpoints that fulfill customer needs.
What tracking or data or technical expertise does your team have to share? How did you solve a problem for your key profile target, and how can you extend/demonstrate that ability to new targets? What was the important step that helped you turn a corporate contact into a corporate ally? Developing a strategy to provide in-depth industry knowledge to a lead proves your worthiness as a partner. This is the difference in ABM – we are hyper focused on that One Fish. And we are ready and available to funnel through to our “Champion” or “Key” exactly what he or she needs to get ahead of industry trends and upheavals. Our relationship becomes stronger with every effort made on our target’s behalf, or to address and predict that target’s needs.
Simple Q&A isn’t enough to count as true Account Based Marketing. This isn’t built on the premise of “Yes, we sell that part.” It means understanding on a more granular level what really matters to a potential customer. You are building on something more substantial. A “Yes, we understand your industry’s challenges and where your industry is headed” foundation needs to be laid. Then, brick by brick, you keep reinforcing the relationship and deepening the need for your company’s insights and assistance.
Think Account Based Marketing requires too much investment and follow through? Remember, you are establishing a long-term customer, not a one-off relationship. Also, your team benefits from the learning and insights you gain and share back with your “Champion” or “Key.” So, by supplying your “Key” with knowledge that helps them, your team unlocks that business knowledge, as well as new business potential. True, more effort and hours are needed to really implement ABM, but providing industry knowledge via content helps your target, who is as stretched as you are, to look good. And to look to you to be a true business partner.
Immediate ABM Expertise for Manufacturers & Industrial Companies
Account based marketing takes time and consideration – and our team has the experience to help with almost two decades of B2B marketing expertise. With so many companies running “lean and mean” these days, an effective outside marketing team can augment your efforts and boost your prowess.
Want to learn more on industrial Account Based Marketing techniques? This article is just the first of three. Check out these related articles by our team:
Part 2: Account Based Marketing: Land and Expand. (6 minute read)
Part 3: Account Based Marketing: Serve. Don’t Sell. (4 minute read)
Ready to start the shift to ABM?
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