Written by Josh Baez, Marketing Coordinator, Heinz Marketing.
A Brief History
With the volume of account-based marketing (ABM) hitting the metaphorical marketing shelves, and its newfound prevalence among trusted marketing solutions, it has become almost commonplace for companies of all sizes to throw down their pens, raise their hands, and say to themselves, “We need an account-based marketing plan, and we need it now!”
But account-based marketing isn’t anything new, or at least the tactics that make it up aren’t. The idea of strategically targeting big-name accounts has been around since most can remember, and really, it’s only the term of “account-based marketing” that has really made its mark as the new buzzword of marketing pop culture.
Whatever you want to call it—account-based marketing, a named account strategy, key account marketing—the fundamentals of this strategy remain the same.
- Identify your high-value, target accounts
- Determine your messaging and content in relation to your prospects’ pains and industry
- Align your sales and marketing teams for effective execution
One Size Does Not Fit All
But just because you have the tools doesn’t guarantee you know how to use them. As with all things, it takes time, understanding, and patience to find the so-called circadian rhythm of your account-based marketing plan, and it takes even longer to hone those practices and deliver quality leads on a consistent basis.
So where is that line of separation between failure and success? Though this isn’t black and white, a common misstep occurs when one believes that an ABM strategy is a one-size-fits-all solution, when in fact, it is just the opposite.
The Rain Cloud Scenario
Think of account-based marketing as a rain cloud hanging above your target company and the personas who make up that company. When it rains, each rain drop falls on a different persona, and each persona reacts differently to those rain drops. In this scenario, the rain drops could be thought of as your communication vehicle—emails, web ads and banners, social posts—while your content—whitepapers, eBooks, case studies, data sheets—is what resides in each droplet.
Because the personas within any given company react differently to different kinds of content, it becomes incredibly important for your account-based marketing strategy to not only be targeted at a company level, but at a persona level as well. It’s this level of detail in your account-based marketing strategy that separates those that deliver results from those that run dry.
Targeting through Concentric Circles
Targeting will be your number one driver of quality leads. It doesn’t matter if your content is flawless or if your offers are hard-hitting—if you target the wrong people, your leads will possess no value. But targeting is certainly not an easy task, and depending on the size of your ABM plan, it can be a real nightmare to figure out.
But when you begin to break down your targeting criteria into its key components, it becomes much more digestible, and much easier to understand. You can think of your targeting strategy through a series of six concentric circles:
- Industry: Understanding your target company’s industry is like sanding with a low-grit sandpaper—it will help you quickly remove the excess, leaving you in a much better position as you begin to refine your content.
- Company: It’s not just a matter of knowing the name of your target company. You should also understand what they offer, who their buyers are, and what their buyer’s journey looks like. This way, you’ll be able to mold your own services to align with their needs.
- Company Size: Knowing the size of your target company will help you determine what kind of content is relevant to them. With larger companies, roles are more defined, meaning that your persona-specific content should be fairly specific in its scope.
- Job Title and Seniority: After you’ve determine the relevant information at the company level, getting deeper into the persona level means understanding the job titles and seniority of your prospects. Are you targeting a manager? Director? Vice president? C-suite executive? These job titles will directly influence what you market and how.
- Job Function: Knowing your prospects’ job functions will help you to be even more targeted in the content you create. With this level of insight, you can begin to understand their tasks, responsibilities, and where they might need assistance.
- Pain Points: Knowing your prospects’ pain points should be at the core of your targeting strategy. These pain points will ultimately guide the shape and substance of your content, and combined with your knowledge from the previous five circles, your final piece of content will be hard-hitting, relevant, and valuable to a prospect.
Account-based marketing isn’t something that happens quickly and seamlessly. It takes time to get up and running, to get the different parts aligned, and to get your organization coordinated on execution. But as you begin painting this larger picture of an account-based marketing strategy, up close it might look chaotic—like a mass of different brushstrokes, muddled and disorganized—but take a step back to let the piece breathe, and you begin to see how each piece comes together to make the whole.
Having the right targeting is just one piece of the Full Funnel Marketing puzzle. Help your organization succeed. Register Now for Full Funnel Marketing: How to Impact Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey to learn more.