Account Based Marketing is a strategic approach to marketing where you identify organisations, in target industries, and consider each organisation a market of one.
Account Based Marketing is a strategic approach to your marketing where you create personalised and tailored communications that are designed to nurture people through the sales funnel.
It is perfect for those in the B2B space and those that have long or complex nurture and sales funnels.
If you feel like traditional marketing approaches are not working for you, those that are suited to B2C, like social ads, email campaigns, and generalised content, then Account Based Marketing could be the answer.
This episode is part two of a two-part series. In this episode, I’ll walk you through the final steps in beginning to create an Account Based Marketing approach and provide you with a basic example.
DOWNLOAD – Account Based Marketing – Content Mapping
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
So, first things first, if you haven’t listened to the episode before this, number 46, then get on that job and come back.
As I mentioned in the last episode, there is a bit of a common misconception out there that marketing is just about throwing money at what we call above the line tactics, above the line meaning those tactics we can see, like ads.
Sure, that can and does work for certain businesses, generally those that have mass appeal and big target audiences.
The thing about that attitude is that it forgets that marketing tactics fall on a continuum of money and time. Sure, you can purely spend money on marketing tactics, however, sometimes you actually need to spend time on your marketing … you are the resource that will make it happen.
In the past, B2B marketing was all about quantity but now it is about quality and getting a laser focus on the accounts and business you would like to secure.
As you know, that’s where account based marketing comes intoit. Account based marketing is an approach where you identify an account you’d like, a specific business, and the contact or contacts within it, and you build a personalised, tailored approach to engaging with them.
Essentially, you build a tailored and personal mini marketing plan for each business you are trying to engage with. That’s not to say that every plan is totally different but more that there will be a series of keys steps, or tactics, that you can employ, and it is about how you employ them.
In terms of setting up an account based marketing plan, in the last episode, I talked you through
- Step one, creating a list of target criteria for organisations you might target
- Step two, researching organisations that may fit the criteria
- Step three, ranking suitable organisations in terms of priority
- Step four, mapping your personas against those organisations, and
- Step five, going deep and building a picture up of the context each organisation you are targeting operates in.
So, with a good understanding of those steps, and maybe you’ve even started making them happen, and creating a base for yourself, it is now time to talk about
- Step six, identifying content topics,
- Step seven, identifying vehicles or channels, and
- Step eight, identifying distribution.
Also, I’ll give you an basic example of how it comes together in a plan.
My advice now would be, instead of simply building the list and journey of tactics, and going all in, is to test it on a few people. So I just wanted to make that comment before we pressed on.
However, at Step 6, we need to develop content and so we come back to those key things about content marketing and marketing in general.
Marketing is about finding people with a need and getting them to trust you. As such, your job is to get the right information, to the right people, at the right time. Content is a great way to do this as it allows you to demonstrate your expertise, while helping people solve their needs, wants, or problems, and that builds trust and we buy off people we trust.
You’ve heard that all from me before. Nothing new there.
So, for this step, step 6, you’ll need to grab the doc where you have prioritised your target organisaions and mapped the personas and other research information along side them.
If you are really just working with one group of organisations, say high schools, or accountants, or someone, then this is a little easier. But if you have multiple groups of target organisations for example, you want to target schools AND accountants AND doctors etc, you’ll need to replicate this step for each distinct group of organisations because doctors will need different tailored information to accountants to high schools etc.
If you have more than one group, just start with one and get it right and then expand from there. Don’t try and bite more off than you can chew.
Now, head to marketingbuilder.net and the show notes for this episode and download the free resource. It might be a bit hard to follow here but I’ll explain it anyway …
In the space at the top fill in the heading with the name of the account group you are targeting, for example, High Schools.
Then, there is a table with four columns and five rows.
In the first row, the header row, the columns are titled 1. Buying Stage, 2. Early – pre-purchase, 3. Middle – commit to change, and 4. Late – evaluation.
What we are looking at here is a column for the three stages of the sales funnel that we can map content to.
Now, down the left hand column, moving down the rows, we have the title ‘Objectives’. Then questions, and then label content types, and in the last row, the title of distribution.
So what you will do now is fill in the table so that under each of the three sections of the sales funnel, we will know what we are trying to achieve with our content, what questions the target audience has each stage, what content type is suitable e.g. podcasts, webinars, eBooks etc, and then also how they will discover and engage with it e.g. search, email, in-person events etc.
But like I said head to marketingbuilder.net and the show notes for this episode and download the free resource.
As example, let’s say I am trying to target office managers in high schools because I can sell them student management software that helps them manage their office work.
So, if we focus on the funnel stage Early – pre-purchase, my objectives cell would say, quote, “Build awareness of my software and address pain points” end quote.
In the third row, next to the heading questions, I have listed 5 questions that I know high school office managers have about their role and their pain points. For example, one might be “How do I ensure parents return forms in a timely manner?”
The reason these questions are important is because that is what our content is going to focus on.
In the fourth row, next to content types, I have listed the content vehicles that I will use and which I know are suitable because my persona work has told me or validated that these are preferred comms channels for information.
So, I might have brochures, eBook, and how-to-guides as the type of content they prefer.
Finally, in the fifth row, I will list distribution channels. So I might have things like email, hard copy mail, and podcasts as suitable channels to get the content in front of them.
Then, build the remaining two columns out for 2. Middle, and 3. Late stages of the sales funnel. And, of course, complete this exercise for every group of target organisations you’ve identified. For each group, you’ll have 15 relevant questions that you’ll need content to address.
After the break, will round this out with steps 7, 8, and 9 and I’ll give you a basic example to bring it all together for you.
Ok, so, in step 6, you’ve just listed a bunch of questions that your target audience needs answers and content for. However, you may already have some suitable content in your library.
As such, for step 7, you’ll need to do a bit of a stocktake to see if you have existing suitable content, content you can repurpose or whether you’ll need to create new content for each of those questions.
An important thing to note here is that you don’t need to create new content. You can 100% pick up old content and polish or repurpose it.
The result is that you will have 15 pieces of content, for each target organisation and person, that you can use to tailor and engage with them and nurture them through to a sale. That’s at a minimum. Of course, you can add more questions to the five at any of those points.
In step 8, our second last stage, you need to create a persona journey. A lot like our normal persona’s, this will be a best pathway engagement with you i.e. how would you love your target audience to interact and progress with you?
Now, we all know that while we like to build a linear path of engagement with our target audience, it is actually likely to look more like a piece of spaghetti. It’ll be all twisted and double back etc. That’s fine.
However, that doesn’t deter us from building our best scenario pathway and it should look a little like a calendar timeline. For example, let’s use a school as an example, it might be something like ..
- Connect on LinkedIn and personalise a message.
- Six weeks later, reach out on LinkedIn and share a piece of content and personalise it with a note about why you are sharing it. Remember, that content should be one that answers one of the five questions, or pain points, at the early stage of the sales funnel. Just a bit of a “Hey, we’ve been connected for a while now and I thought I’d share this”. Definitely nothing pushy and salesy.
- Four weeks later, send them a hard copy of a relevant eBook and put a hand written note on it with some context. For example, maybe something about what you’ve seen in the news, their site, or socials, maybe something like an important school anniversary or charity work or student success etc.
- 2 weeks later, shoot them an email that asks if they found the book useful and asking if you could buy them a coffee and learn more about their role and the organisation.
- Follow that meeting up with some tailored content based on what they talked about. Also, add them to your email list for your regular comms.
- Finally, run a 6-monthly get together for high school office managers, maybe a webinar, maybe in-person, and deliver quality content to them. Kind of like a networking/seminar type deal. Be sure to be aware of hwo you can take the content from those events and repurpose them into other content such as slidedecks, blogs, etc
So, that’s just a basic example but you can see that this is very hands on, tailored, structured marketing, as opposed to just running Google ads or running SEO to get people to visit a site and take action.
And finally, in step 9, as with all good marketing, you will need to track and refine as you go. I won’t go into detail here because I don’t know what your goals and plan will look like. So, I’ll leave that one to you.
So, there you have it. Account Based Marketing, perfect for B2B organisations and those that have long sales funnels.
Account based marketing is an approach where you identify an account you’d like, a specific business, and the contact or contacts within it, and you build a personalised, tailored approach to engaging with them.
Essentially, you build a tailored and personal mini marketing plan for each business you are trying to engage with. That’s not to say that every plan, for each organisation and contact, is totally different, but more that there will be a series of keys steps, or tactics, that you can employ.
This is the perfect approach if you are a B2B organisation but sit there knowing that all the popular mass marketing tactics, like social media, Google Ads, SEO, and even radio, TV etc, are just not suitable.
The other reason Account Based Marketing is perfect is because of the old adage, people do business with people and account based marketing provides that for you.