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 one of a two-part series. In this episode, I’ll walk you through the first steps in beginning to create an Account Based Marketing approach.
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.
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.
It doesn’t work so well if you are targeting maybe just one or two key people in a small group of businesses. For example, you might be offering commercial legal services or you might be offering IT networking and hosting services in your local area
You might know the names of the businesses who would make ideal clients, you may even know the names of the people you want to talk to, but how to you make contact and nurture them.
Cold email can work. Tough grind though. Cold calling can work. That’s even more of a turn off for people.
You might even get a warm introduction. But the problem with that is what if the person just isn’t interested or in the market for your services. It is simply not the right time?
Or maybe it is the right time and they are the type of person that just doesn’t like to be sold to and wants to control and own the process.
So, what marketing options do we have because you 100% want to be there when they start looking for solutions?
Well, I mentioned before that 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.
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 it was just about casting the net far and wide with SEO, email campaigns, and generic ads etc and trying to convert people into a database. It was a pure numbers game.
These days, I talk to lots of businesses where clearly, above the line, mass-marketing, push marketing, just won’t cut it. They don’t have the budgets for it and they really want something much more aligned to their business and tailored.
In the past, B2B marketing was about quantity but now it is about quality and getting a laser focus on the accounts and business would like.
The answer is Account Based Marketing. 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.
For example, in your overall account-based marketing plan, one step may be that you research what charities a business supports and take steps to mention to the contact that you’ve seen the work they support and commend them etc. They key here is that, in doing that, you’ll need to obviously personalise that message because the charities supported by different businesses are different.
So, who is account based marketing a good fit for? Well, firstly, let’s look at it from the point of view of who it wouldn’t be a good fit for. People who are selling B2C, business to consumer, wouldn’t use account based marketing. Generally, it is a mass market and the products are commoditised and sales aren’t really based on relationships or long selling and nurturing prospects personally.
As such, account base marketing is great for those that are selling B2B, business to business, especially those offering services but that isn’t to discount those selling products. Generally, if you are trying to reach specific people in an organisation, and get to know them and understand if they need your help, and nurture a relationship, then account based marketing could be a good choice.
One key check against whether account based marketing is a good fit for you is whether your ideal clients and customers undertake a fair bit of research before engaging you. That’s because account based marketing give you loads of opportunities to personalise and tailor that content that they need.
Further, the size of your business is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you are a sole-trader consultant or a multi-national.
So, if account based marketing sounds like it might be for you, here we go because after the break, we will start walking through the steps you need to complete to build an amazing account based marketing plan.
Firstly, if you are a massive company, you’ll need to get buy-in, set goals, talk to stakeholders such as sales teams, define your AB team etc.
However, the vast majority of my listeners are small and medium businesses so, lets get to the juicy bits and I’ll try not to over complicate it but, depending on your business, there might be a bit of tweaking or deeper work at some steps.
The steps I’ll talk you through will be:
Step one is to create a list of target criteria for organisations you might target
Step two is researching organisations that may fit the criteria
Step three is to rank suitable organisations in terms of priority
Step 4 will be to map your personas against those organisations
Step 5 is all about going deep and building a picture up of the context each organisation you are targeting operates in.
That’ll be in this episode and in the next episode, part 2, I’ll cover off identifying content topics, vehicles, and distribution as well as give you an basic example of how it comes together in a plan.
So, step one is to create a list of target criteria of the organisations you want to go after. If you have been a good marketer, you’ll have done something similar when building personas for your marketing plan, those composite representations of an individual.
However, at this stage, we are looking to create a list of criteria that we want to measure organisations against. So, it might be size of the organisation, location, industry, past sales etc. Make a list of all of the relevant criteria that would make a great client. If you offer a suite of products, depending how they hang together, you may need to create a target criteria list for each product or service.
Then, alongside each criteria, note down why it is important.
Step two is researching organisations that may fit the criteria. Everyone is going to be different here, in terms of how you do this, because industries are different, so I want go into too much detail on this one. Suffice to say, that what you should eb doing is identifying potential organisations and then assessing the against the criteria from step one.
If they meet the criteria, add them to the list of target organisations.
Step three is to rank them. Identifying the ones that you want to go after first. Some things to consider here are looking for clients where you have a good understanding of their business, how they buy and if you already have content that is useful to them.
My advice would be to create three groups, just call them Tier 1, 2 and 3.
Next step 4, you want to map your personas against the organisations at each tier. This can be a bit messy to explain, because I have no idea how many different types of organisations you will have listed and if you will just have one persona that suits them all or whether you’ll have 2,3,4 different ones.
Also, at this point, if you don’t have personas, at least basic ones that list job title, needs, communication preferences, and challenges, then now is the time to get cracking on that job.
However, once you’ve mapped those persona’s against organisations, you’ll need to find out who the contact is, like, actually the real person. Their name and hopefully contact details. LinkedIn and company websites are the obvious candidates for this or you. Hell, you might even have to pick up the phone and talk to the receptionist.
Step 5 is all about going deeper. The key with account based marketing, as opposed to mass-marketing, is that it needs to be tailored and really, the only way to tailor B2B sales is to get to know not just the personas well but also understand each organisation more deeply that demographic things like size, industry, location, turnover, etc.
Against each of the organisations, you also need to be start building a picture and the reason we do this is because it allows us to look for things we can engage them on and tailor to. It will always depend on the industry and organisation but some things you might consider are plans for the future, who do they partner with, what things are happening in their industry that impacts them, what are their competitors doing etc.
I was talking to a client the other day, who operates in a small area, and the great thing is that everyone in business pretty much knows everyone else. So I suggested, in this research step of the account based marketing approach, why not reach out to your network with some basic questions and ask your own contacts, just a select group of key ones, “Hey, what can you tell me about Joe Blogs and ABC company?”
Really, what you are trying to do here is find things to engage with them on. Panning for gold so to speak.
The company’s news or blog pages or social media accounts, both company pages and individual profiles, are great places to start. General news and a simple Google search can also help. And, of course, as I mentioned, asking your trusted network.
So, by now, you’ve identified organisations by name, mapped general personas, listed the key contacts, and developed a bit of a picture or some unique context around them.
If you are serious about making this happen, you’ve got a bit of time to complete those steps before the next episode where I’ll talk you through how to identify, align, and create the content, tailor it, and get it out to your targets and engage them.
Those are our first steps in creating an amazing account based marketing plan.
Step one – create a list of target criteria for organisations you might target
Step two – research organisations that may fit the criteria
Step three – rank suitable organisations in terms of priority
Step 4 – map your personas against those organisations
Step 5 – going deep and building a picture up of the context each organisation you are targeting operates in.
As such, in part two, the next episode, I’ll cover off identifying content topics, vehicles, and distribution as well as give you an basic example of how it comes together in a plan.
But for now …