In recent years, Account Based Marketing (ABM) has proven its worthy place in a B2B marketing plan, with 87% of marketers stating that ABM outperforms other marketing activities.
This success is not easy and often does not happen overnight. The first step in achieving ABM success is selecting the right accounts, which means being able to spot who you shouldn’t be going after, just as much as you should.
Whether you’re focussed on developing existing relationships or making a first introduction to those high-value, ‘dream’ accounts, ABM provides a personalised and memorable experience for your prospects and has helped many B2B businesses succeed in ways they hadn’t before.
What do you want to achieve?
An initial reaction to this question is often to scream “revenue and profits”, but chances are there is more to it than that. An ABM approach, whether it’s 1:1 or 1: Many, can be useful in achieving various marketing objectives, some including:
- Growing revenue / opportunity within an existing account
- Generating awareness of your offering in accounts who are currently purchasing from your competitors
- Re-engagement of lapsed customers with a product launch or new solution
- Brand repositioning
- Generating consideration for your organisation when your prospect next goes to tender
- Logo acquisition to improve brand credibility and reputation
The list goes on.
One thing is key. Always set SMART objectives and communicate these with everyone who needs to know, from your sales team to your external agency. Without clear, measurable objectives, there is a risk you can lose sight of what you set out to do, and an even bigger risk you won’t be able to effectively measure success if/when you get there.
Once you have clear sight on what it is your campaign needs to achieve, you can begin creating your ‘long list’ of potential accounts. This often looks like culmination of suggestions and data, ranging from your sales team’s wish-list, customers that haven’t renewed or repurchased in the last 3 years, or intent data.
Who do you want to target?
Having identified your objectives and agreed on what you want to achieve from the ABM campaign, it’s now time to collate your long list and to start thinking about businesses that fit your criteria, if you haven’t already got some accounts in mind.
If you don’t have a long list or aren’t sure on the accounts you should choose, a good place to start is to review your customer success stories, taking note of key demographics and their competing organisations. Just try not to annoy any existing customers in the process!
How will you choose your shortlist?
Given ABM’s laser-focused approach you may only be able to identify 10-20 opportunities, so it’s just as important to decide on who you’re not going to target as well as who you will. This often means playing the antagonist within your organisation to challenge other stakeholders’ suggestions. As much as ABM is a joint venture between marketing and sales and requires support from both teams, marketing need to keep the focus on the objectives you’ve set and the overall activity, it will largely be a marketing cost after all.
Chances are someone (not naming any names) will suggest brands like Apple or Google. This isn’t to say these accounts can’t be targeted, but you need to return to earth for a moment and do a little analysis. Ask yourself if the accounts are likely to spend enough money with your business to outweigh the cost you’ll spend engaging them. If not, remove them.
Is a working relationship with these brands achievable? This is not to say they are unapproachable, however if they have a notoriously difficult decision-making unit then it might not be the best use of resource.
It’s always good practice to select accounts you have an existing relationship with no matter how small it is, lukewarm is better than stone cold. The same can be said when selecting key stakeholders for 1:1 campaigns. Did they used to work at an organisation that is now one of your top clients? Or did they once attend a speaking session you ran at an event? Put them on the list.
Ultimately, your account selection stage is a combination of being optimistic, being realistic and being intelligent with your choices. Choosing accounts who have previously shown levels of intent or know of your brand will likely increase your chances of engagement, but the devil is in the strategy behind the execution. Have a clear idea of your objectives, budget and target accounts and you can’t go far wrong.