The following is an excerpt from Account-Based Marketing for Dummies by Sangram Vajre, available for purchase on April 18.
In 2006, renowned author Seth Godin wrote about flipping the funnel to give your fans a “megaphone”. Through the rise of the Internet, your customers can voice their opinions more loudly than ever before, and they will get louder. Your marketing and sales team also can flip the funnel with account-based marketing. Here’s how we flip the funnel.
Comparing the lead-based and account-based funnels
The traditional lead-based sales and marketing funnel has been turned into a cone by using account-based marketing. The tip of the cone is your initial lead. This lead becomes your first contact and is then developed into an account. That’s how account-based marketing got its name. You’re identifying the accounts you want to engage, then strategically marketing to each contact in the account. Throughout this book, I discuss all levels of account-based marketing, and I show you how to use technology for marketing to these contacts.
There are four stages of account-based marketing: Identify, Expand, Engage and Advocate. The four stages of account-based marketing apply different processes and components of technology.
I cover each of the four stages in detail in each of the parts of this book. Part II shows how to identify your contacts. Part III shows how to expand contacts into accounts. Part IV shows how to engage accounts. Part V shows how to turn accounts into your customer advocates. Part VI provides the metrics to determine whether your account-based marketing activities are successful. Part VII has additional resources and tools for account-based marketing.
In the rest of this book excerpt, I provide a high-level overview of each of the four stages.
Identifying your best-fit contacts
The first step of account-based marketing is to identify. With traditional lead-based marketing, your marketing team focused on feeding as many leads as possible in the top of the funnel. With the account-based marketing funnel, you start the sales process by focusing on a single point of contact. You target your best-fit lead and create a contact. This contact potentially is a good fit for your business. You determine whether they’re a good fit by using a set of criteria. This set of criteria aligns with a your ideal customer profile. After you have determined that this contact meets your ideal customer profile, you begin the process of turning the contact into a full account.
Expanding contacts into accounts
The second stage of account-based marketing is to expand. This involves expanding your contact into an account. After the account is created, you further expand the account by adding more contacts. Your ideal customer profile is the type of company (the account) you want to work with, and within those accounts there are contacts or the people who will use your product or service.
Expanding often is the toughest stage for marketers who are used to traditional lead-based marketing. With lead-based marketing, you’re starting big at the top of the funnel, then slimming down the leads through different stages of qualification. Switching from lead-based marketing to account-based marketing requires a fundamental shift in the mindset of an organization.
Engaging accounts on their terms
The third stage of account-based marketing is to engage. Engagement is where your content and channels come to life. This stage is by far the broadest, because there are so many ways to engage with your prospects. Engagement often is where marketers become scientists. They test different types of content to find which types resonate with specific types of contacts and accounts.
Using personalized marketing, your marketing and sales teams engage all of the contacts within an account. You target your marketing messages to your best-fit customers on the channels where your ads are most likely to be seen, whether that’s social media, display advertising, video, or mobile. This creates more energy to close deals sooner.
Engagement is the broadest stage of account-based marketing, because there are so many ways to engage with your prospects. Think about email, webinars, ebooks, targeted ads, videos, events, and any programmatic or automated ways you use to get in front of your target audience (target audience is the key phrase).
While this is the first step in the traditional funnel, the flipped funnel waits until you’ve identified key accounts before developing the targeted content needed for engagement. This gives sales and marketing the opportunity to dive deeper and understand the motivations, pain points, and demographics of each account.
Here’s an example: A healthcare company is actively targeting enterprise employers in the San Francisco area. With a list of employers in hand, the healthcare company can both target specific leads with which they may have already engaged, and automatically present personalized ads to other decision makers in those accounts on the same channels that they’re already using. This increases the reach within those accounts, and makes it more likely that those contacts will already have been exposed to marketing messaging by the time the sales team is actively reaching out. The key here is to present marketing messages on the buyer’s schedule, not on yours. This is a huge differentiator between traditional and account-based marketing.
Creating customer advocates
The final stage of account-based marketing is advocate. This is when your accounts are customers, and then your new goal is to turn your customers into raving fans of your business. This is creating customer advocates. Customer word-of-mouth marketing through referrals, reviews, and talking to their peers is the most organic and impactful type of marketing.
Traditional B2B marketing lacks alignment between the marketing, sales, and customer success teams. In this book, I show you how to work with your entire company to continue your account-based marketing efforts beyond the buyer journey and throughout the customer lifecycle
Sangram Vajre is the author of Account-Based Marketing for Dummies debuting on April 18. He has quickly built a reputation as one of the leading minds in B2B marketing. Before co- founding Terminus, a SaaS platform for account-based marketing, Sangram led the marketing team at Salesforce Pardot. He has spoken on the topic of marketing technology around the world and is the mastermind behind #FlipMyFunnel. Follow Sangram on Twitter @SangramVajre.