Account Based Marketing or Target Account Marketing

Account Based Marketing +Inbound Marketing= Match Made in Sales Heaven

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We’ve seen a progressive movement away from canned, generic marketing tactics toward more personalization and customization over the past few years. In light of that, here’s a term you need to know:

Account based marketing.

Simply put, account based marketing (we’ll call it ABM, but you may also have heard it called target account marketing (TAM)) looks at individual accounts as their own market. So that large engineering firm in Detroit that you have on your top 25 list? Think of that firm as a single market. The needs of your buyers and decision makers  in that firm are completely unlike any other, even another engineering client.

ABM works well for companies who want to get more money from fewer clients, who have a limited number of prospects – for instance, there are only 50 companies in the whole world that need what you offer – or, for companies who want to sell more into their larger accounts (remember, the likelihood you can sell an additional product to someone you’ve sold to before is drastically higher than trying to sell to a new customer).

With that in mind, you also have more time to get to know those existing customers. The longer you build your client relationship, the more precise you can be in predicting that individual’s upcoming needs in terms of your solutions.

Considering accounts as their own markets helps you stay away from generalizing each potential customer’s needs. His needs may be similar to another client’s, but not identical. By combining highly customized marketing strategies with sales efforts, you successfully connect with each account individually, thereby increasing your close rate.

How Does ABM Play With Inbound Marketing?

This customization thing isn’t new; it’s been the epicenter of inbound marketing for years. Content targeted toward what your audience wants is the cornerstone of smart inbound marketing, and ABM simply fills in the gaps with sales in the process. Both inbound marketing and ABM require tight involvement, coordination and communication between sales and marketing.

Now, considering each account its own market, you can identify key business issues that each individual target faces and tailor campaigns to address those concerns. Is your client looking for ways to improve output and efficiency with a specific market? If you’re a B2B software seller, you can modify email content to specifically address this goal and how your product can help the recipient achieve it. You can send a free whitepaper addressing this concern, then have a salesperson follow up, ready to answer specific questions surrounding how this lead would use your software.

Tools of the Trade

We’ve moved away from billboards, radio ads, and commercials. No one feels like these shotgun-effect marketing tools are speaking to them. And as the ability to customize our campaigns increases with technological advances, customers are coming to expect marketing more aligned with their own specific needs and preferences.

For ABM, customized email content can work wonders. And no, customizing email doesn’t just mean using the greeting “Dear {insertname}” in the header. We’ve now got the ability to use dynamic content modules to deliver an entirely different email for each recipient. One subscriber is in LA? Install a news widget that pulls from the local headlines. One’s in Egypt? She’ll get different content with that same widget.

Essentially, you want to use any type of marketing tool that can be customized individually. Banner ads and pay-per-click advertising can be personalized with cookies, so that if your software lead signs up for your free whitepaper on your website, he’ll only see your ads on other sites that relate to what he’s interested in.

You can create events — online or off — for smaller groups of leads, rather than aiming for hundreds or thousands of participants. This gives you the chance to spend some one-on-one time with each prospect, making them feel unique.

Unique landing pages or microsites geared toward your individual accounts are easy enough to set up, and can help you really speak to each individual prospect and no one else. Create ads for each target and link to specific landing pages.

And LinkedIn InMail is another great tool for connecting with individual accounts. Rather than mass emailing all your connections on the site, you can send distinct messages one by one that increase interest with connections.

Truly Knowing Your Prospects

With ABM, the key is first knowing the companies that are the most likely to buy from you. That’s not every company, so the whole “canvas the neighborhood with our spammy flyer” tactic clearly won’t work here. And while some companies might be open to buying from you, you also have to realize they most likely won’t all be ready to do so right now. That’s where the buyer lifecycle comes into play.

Once you identify those companies, you then have to classify the buyers. Sometimes that’s someone in accounting. Other times it’s the IT lead. Still other times, it’s a team of people who make the decision together. Here, you can implement buyer personas to identify what each of these targets care about, and build a sales and marketing plan to zero in on those objectives. In fact, 29% of marketers use buyer personas as part of their long-term marketing strategy. This goes back to the point that it’s easier to get to know existing clients and their preferences than to sketch out an idea of what a potential, new client might want.

Pay Attention to Behavior

ABM may not be as easy as what you’ve been doing in the past, but I guarantee, you’ll get better results for your efforts. The secret is, however, to pay attention to what you’re doing and what’s working. If one email campaign didn’t net any clicks, look at the content and consider whether it was truly targeted to your micro audience.

ABM is also built for the long-term. You’re not trying to close a sale tomorrow, so build your content, email, and sales strategies around the long-term. Continue to deliver useful, personalized information, and do so beyond when the actual sales occurs. Especially if you’re looking to make multiple sales from one customer, continuing the discussion and relationship past the signing of a contract is a necessity.

Because you’re not focused on generating hundreds of leads — many of which weren’t qualified from the start — you should have more time to focus on delivering better solutions for each prospect independent of the rest.

ABM. Inbound marketing. Whatever you call it, there’s a growing demand for integrated sales and marketing tactics that look at the buyer as an individual market with his own needs and desires. Is ABM or inbound marketing right for your company?  Give me a call and let’s talk about it.

Look for more blog posts on ABM in the coming few months- you’ll learn how to create a ABM plan and more!