Account based marketing: Not Just For The Big Guys

You don’t need to be FTSE100 to use Account Based Marketing to grow your business

Account based marketing is a business to business (B2B) marketing approach that is widely used by big multi-nationals and for that reason, many smaller firms think it’s a strategy they can’t use. Some of this perception is wrapped up in the fact that it can take years to get the process right.

However, I think it’s time we put those thoughts aside. If set up properly and structured in a way that is suited to smaller businesses, account based marketing can really give sales and revenue a boost.

That’s because ABM is all about being targeted. It’s much easier to create marketing communications that will resonate with groups of prospects and customers when you have a deeper understanding of your buyers’ needs and pain points and can identify when they are likely to be interested in your product or service. You can then tailor what you want to say to each group by appealing to the needs they have in common.

But as well as taking the approach of creating one campaign for a small number of companies, you might also get very specific and create campaigns that are only targeted at one. But it doesn’t matter if you follow a process of 1:1 interactions, 1:few or 1:many, the principle is the same – you know exactly who to target and with what.

Lots of SMEs also think that upping their spend on a Google ad or paid media campaign is what the pros would do. But in all honesty, if you are targeting larger value deals with a longer sales cycle, an account based approach can give a much greater ROI, more quickly and help to move prospects through the funnel. 

Start with a pilot

It is absolutely possible to achieve 80% open rates on emails and a 30% conversion to meeting, which can happen in less than 12 hours. However, you only get those kinds of response rates when you have optimised everything in the process using our four step approach: 

1. Develop a strategy. Who are the companies you want to target? What challenge you can help them address? When you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes you can do more thorough research and find out precisely who you need to contact.

Lots of people think picking up the phone to the most senior person is the route in. But in my experience, it’s not always the case. There’s usually someone else weighing up the options and responsible for creating a strategy the board signs off. Understanding this will help you create an image of what it is you need to say and do to capture people’s attention and their imagination as to how the business can achieve its goals with your help. 

2. Understand the buyer. This the point when you ask what’s the market context, how are decisions made, who makes them, how does the supply chain fit in to the purchasing process? You need to think like the person you want to sell to. There are lots of ways you can get ready, such as reading LinkedIn posts they make which will inform the topics they are interested in.

3. Content. This needs to reflect the person you want to make contact with and the research you have done. Put together a range of materials and formats that tell different parts of the story and can be used at different points in the conversation – a short video could be followed up with a customer case study for instance.

Occasionally you might find you need a ‘challenger approach’ to alter your prospect’s understanding of the status quo. Perhaps what they are doing now is best practice but will fast become outdated when new 5G technology becomes available. In which case, your goal will be to develop content that uses commercial insight that sparks an interest.

4. Delivery. Firstly, everything you do needs to match your objectives and the world your prospect operates in. Starting with brand awareness, if they use social media then that’s where you need to be visible. Sharing relevant and well timed reports and articles will raise your profile with your target audience.

Then we advise a series of emails that direct people to a personalised landing page. This page should feature the content that best matches the strategy and goals your prospect needs to deliver on. A range of resources that can be explored will pull people in, and that’s the point at which you start the conversation and get on your journey to converting a sale.

Key takeaways

The good news for SMEs is that desk-based research, a simple Hubspot licence and a few key pieces of digital content can be all you need to get started – and that makes it affordable. Plus, if you commit to a pilot you can start small and increase investment as you get business buy-in.

If you need help developing your model or want to know more about how you can get 80% open rates then speak to us via hello@see-blue.co.uk. We’ll help you set up the process, identify your targets and develop the content that will make prospects take notice of what you have to say.

Author: Helen Brown, Director and Co-Founder Seeblue Marketing

A longer version of this article first appeared on Minute Hack.

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