ABM 101: The Do’s and Don’ts of Account-Based Marketing

5 minute read

Upland Admin

Account-based marketing has the potential to net amazing clients for your business. Harnessing that power? Well, that requires not just a general understanding of B2B marketing strategy, but also a solid grasp on the do’s and don’ts of this focused approach.

The Basics of an Account-Based Marketing Plan for B2B Marketers

account based marketing plan

Do Homework on Your Potential Clients

Part of account-based marketing’s power is in that loaded first word, “account.” Choosing the right account to receive this type of focused marketing is the first step in finding success. It all begins with picking a promising audience.

For certain businesses, the ABM approach is obviously a good one because your client base is so narrow. Maybe you make medical devices only used by a certain surgical specialty, or a coffee bean roaster that will only handle small batches for independent cafes. But specialization isn’t the only way to hone your focus. ABM also works for approaching small groups within a large potential customer base or to directly target a single account of great interest or value.

Related Content: Who Do You Think You’re Talking To? An Interview with Strategist Ardath Albee

So do your homework. Review the existing clients you have and which deliver the most consistent business. Think about who you’d want to reach with ABM and why they would be important. Remember, wanting to land a client just because “it’d be cool” or “their logo would make us look good” isn’t the sturdiest base for building a relationship.

Some traits to consider when selecting an ABM client:

  • Size
  • Overall value
  • Industry
  • Resource match (i.e., if your product/service meet their needs)

Do your research, and you’ll find that the list of potential targets gets smaller and smaller, which is a good thing. Now you’re ready to start planning.

Don’t Think One Size Fits All

This marketing strategy requires a plan tailored to the account. ABM means you need to learn about all of the important players because you’ll need to impress and sell to all of them.

Research by The Aberdeen Group found that 75% of consumers prefer a personalized offer. And why not? Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re getting a good deal, or that their hard work and successes haven’t gone unnoticed? So don’t make personalization a surface-level sheen. Make it clear that you understand the particular challenges facing this particular group of people.

75% of consumers prefer a personalized offer when making a buying decision.

This understanding involves researching the common issues for one industry or company along with knowing their operating structures and hierarchies. Who should receive your first pitch? Who will be making the decision to hire your company or buy your goods? Who makes the final budget call? The answers could vary between accounts, and each campaign needs to reflect those distinctions.

As you make plans for hitting each account, you may find that there is indeed some overlap in their needs. Consider that the exception rather than the rule.

Do Lead Strong

Put your best food forward from the start. The accounts you’ll be connecting with are often high-value, which means plenty of other companies will also be lobbying for their attention. Even if none of your industry rivals are courting the account in question, you’ll still want to stand out from the white noise of other pitches.

You should present your brand in a way that’s both personal and unique. You’ve done the legwork to learn about what they need and you think you can deliver it. Put that front and center in your initial pitch.

Another part of leading strong is giving them an attractive offer right away. An opportunity to get a sample of your work or wares may be a stronger selling point to the account. You’re serious about netting this client, so lead with a serious offer.

Don’t Work in a Bubble

As with so many marketing concepts, account-based marketing will work best if it brings together expertise from your company’s other internal teams. Sales in particular can be an invaluable resource for an ABM effort. The process of reaching these potential clients is very similar to how a potential sale gets made.

Share resources, share information. That’s especially valuable if both teams are working on a single account at the same time. You want to present a unified customer experience and avoid any confusion, for both your team and for the lead. Then, when a client moves from marketing to the sales funnel, you’ll want to have a clean handoff that takes good care of the new business relationship.

Do Quantify and Analyze Your Campaigns

One of the biggest benefits of the account-based marketing approach is the ability to get accurate data about your ROI for each push. Many recent trends in marketing have a harder time confirming hard numbers—not so with ABM.

That’s because of the tight targeting. Your push to reach universities will show results in the number of universities that become clients. Your pitch to a specific company will either work or it won’t. Keep tabs on the success of each ABM venture, and your higher-ups will be happy to see how well the approach can work.

And this doesn’t have to stop at the close of one campaign. Compare your different initiatives and get a sense for which are most successful and why. Having a vision for the broader trends in your marketing work will help you to continue delivering, win after win.

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