The world as we live in it today is not the same as it was even ten years ago. We’ve experienced a technological revolution unlike any we’ve ever seen before. As we pursue the latest trends and technologies, we begin to forget that marketing is all about the people.
A rapidly growing trend is account-based marketing, a B2B marketing strategy that focuses sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts. The trick is to remember that the accounts are made of individuals. For our programs to be effective, they need to resonate.
So, the question becomes: How can we ensure our account based marketing programs are personal and relevant?
The answer comes in three parts:
- Understand the people
- Provide relevant, valuable content
- Build meaningful, interconnected relationships
Understand the People
Knowing who you’re marketing to seems like common sense, but despite this, marketing teams too often fall into the trap of using tactics that leverage generic messaging and content. Broad messages will not be as meaningful, and sadly your marketing results will reflect that.
To get positive results, being relevant and targeted is key. You need to first select the target accounts you want to market to, and only after that can you start to drive a deeper understanding of the stakeholders within that account.
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In many cases, you may have a user, buyer, and influencer. Make sure you know the key personas in your accounts and what matters to them at different stages of their journey. It is critical to know what their pain points are and what question they need answered. Prospects don’t care about what your product does – they care about how it can solve their problems. That’s how you build an effective ABM program.
Provide Relevant, Valuable Content
By now, you’ve done the work to understand the people who make up the buying committee of your target account and what matters to them. Now it’s time to use this information to craft your content. But content without purpose is easy to spot – it’s generic and full of unspecific actions with no real value and nothing new to offer. Don’t let your content fall into this definition.
Useful content should be served at the right time, be relevant, and personalized when possible. It should map to a buyer’s journey from awareness all the way to purchase and ideally loyalty. As you engage more regularly with these prospects, you can begin to introduce more product-specific offers as you guide them down the sales funnel to a buying decision. The further down you go, start thinking of topics that more closely align with your own services.
Content marketing is a key piece of your ABM program, and when it is done well, it will ensure you stand out. In addition to mapping content to the right buying stage, effective content is interesting! Get creative and think about different formats like video, tip sheets, guides, and infographics.
Build Meaningful, Interconnected Relationships
Now that you have content for your key personas in target accounts, it is time to run key programs to establish a relationship. Building relationships with your prospects takes time, and solidifying trust and mutual understanding takes even longer. If I could describe ABM in one word, it’d be “patience.” This stage is where your patience will really be put to the test. The worst thing you can do is rush a prospect into a buying decision before they are ready. A hard-sell too early in the game could cause future marketing efforts to be fruitless.
All buyers go through a journey, and this should be reflected in your programs. Remember you will want a mix of programs that drive awareness, engagement, and ultimately later stage programs to drive meetings. Make sure you have a set of orchestrated programs you can run for each of the stakeholders.
As more stakeholders see and respond to your programs, the easier it will become to generate consensus among them. Word of mouth among an internal buying committee can accelerate your ABM strategy immensely. Use this to your advantage and ensure that no one is left off your radar.
It’s All About the People
As you’ve seen, a successful ABM program depends on knowing your prospects and what matters most to them at different time points. Defining personas and offering relevant content is critical. The important thing to remember here is that ABM is all about the people. If you lack a firm understanding of who you’re marketing to, what you’re selling won’t make a difference.
People respond to people. In an age where we are reliant on technology and automation, the need for human interaction and interconnectedness only becomes more apparent. We’re not marketing to machines with preset responses based on trigger actions. We’re marketing to people – people who have their own sets of needs, wants, and pains they want solved, but not without first establishing a connection.
So take the time to regain your focus. Put down the spreadsheets and ROI calculators, and stop wasting resources creating content that isn’t bringing back anything in return. Remember that at the heart of it all, at the core of everything you do, are people. Understanding the people, providing unique, tangible value, and building meaningful, interconnected relationships – those are the fundamentals of an ABM program, and the pieces to completing your marketing puzzle as a whole.