Cutting through digital noise with a Challenger approach to Account Based Marketing

Before you ask, yes, B2B businesses of different sizes and budgets can successfully run Account Based Marketing (ABM) programmes.

What you need is a clear, focused strategy and process. If budget is tight, rather than attempting an end-to-end programme, start small and pick your most important accounts, deciding if it’s a 1:1 or 1:few play. We wrote about How to get an Account Based Marketing Programme Up and Running. In this you’ll find out exactly how growing organisations with tight budgets can utilise ABM. Done well, you can achieve an 80% email open rate and 30% conversion on meeting, whether online or face to face, delivering high quality leads into your sales team.

Today though we’re focusing in on the content and activation elements of an ABM campaign. With so much noise in the busy digital world, this will help you cut through and get your prospects to take notice.

Why just digital?

Because right now, we’re still not sure where everyone works. Are they still working from home or back in the office? Most likely a hybrid of the two. Either way – methods like direct mail, posters or billboards around towns and cities may not work.

Instead, make sure your visibility is strong on social media and elsewhere in the digital arena. As previously mentioned, you should already be following your prospects. So, sharing well-timed, quality insights and reports will help to raise your profile with them.

Create personalised content based on your research

First things first – read and implement detailed advice on the set-up and research phases in How to get an Account Based Marketing Programme Up and Running. From that, you should now be working towards or have:

  • Researched the sector your prospects are in
  1. Clearly set out your objectives and aligned stakeholders
  2. Followed your prospects on social media to get to know their brand
  3. Started regularly posting industry relevant information and articles that will support your position as a thought leader in your field
  4. Carried out in-depth research to discover what your prospects’ pain points are – more on this below
  5. Created a personalised messaging framework which demonstrates how you solve those pain points, providing the data to back up your claims

The in-depth research is crucial here. You need valid, verifiable data points to construct your personalised campaigns (per account, if you are running 1:1 ABM, alternatively dial it up to a Sector level for a 1:few execution) – most often you can research what you need from your desk, or ask an agency partner to support you if you don’t have the bandwidth.

Research the sector itself, then the organisations you’re targeting. Find out what is happening in their world. Check their news, press releases, their end of year reports and what the media are saying. All this data builds a picture that helps you create your personalised campaign proving how you can solve their pain points.

It’s important to dig deep without getting too bogged down in the minutiae.

Be provocative!

We use the challenger approach, based on The Challenger Sale Methodology. This is where you develop carefully crafted content to challenge your prospect’s thought process.

The crux of the challenger approach is to make people sit up and listen. Your messaging needs to be clear, reflecting your knowledge in their field. And it needs to make them think twice about their current processes.

Use all the data you’ve found from your research and create a personalised value proposition. It’s not a high-level message – it needs to be far more specific than just saying ‘we can solve your problem’. Instead – understand their revenue figures and rather than stating ‘we can deliver a 5% improvement’, do the calculation. Tell them how much you can save/improve/increase in real life terms.

Your information should relate specifically to your prospect to make the recipient realise that you’ve done your homework on them. This should prompt them to open your attachment. And when they see in your Infographic or PDF that you’ve included their branding and it looks and feels like their business, they’ll be more willing to read it. The great things is, it doesn’t have to be flashy – make it simple, honest, direct and professional. Deliver reports in MS Word, single page Infographics or create personalised videos with music and subtitles. These things don’t cost the earth.

Make sure that you are really specific in your benefit. If you can’t be specific, maybe your product isn’t right for that sector. Go back to the beginning and sense check to see if your product is a fit. If you still can’t be specific on your benefit, you may need to start afresh with another prospect.

“But how do I get their email address?” we hear you cry. With GDPR, you must get permission. And we have the solution.


It’s time to put your campaign into action. Tactics to consider using include:

  • Social media campaigns where you schedule and share your personalised content
  • Create data driven infographics (use design platforms like Canva if your budget really doesn’t stretch to a professional agency or graphic designer)
  • Set up a CRM marketing tool like HubSpot. Remember that if you are doing 1:1 ABM volumes will be very small and automation won’t be required so you can get started with the £42 per month Starter package
  • This is the killer email capture tactic: Use your LinkedIn account to connect with the prospects that you identified in your buying centre. Then send targeted outreaches, capturing attention with data and insight specific to them. Once you get engagement, tell them that you will provide further information by email. When they reply with their email address, there’s your permission to contact them with your personalised value proposition and content. Bingo!
  • Create a personalised landing page for them to find out more, ideally with a video asset and a case study as a minimum. The content should reflect the strategy and goals your prospect needs to deliver.
  • Don’t worry about going to the most senior person. Many people think they should aim high and approach the CEO. It’s better to approach the decision maker, who may be in middle- or senior-management
  • Always follow up with phone calls to get that all-important meeting
  • Ensure that everything you do, all your tactics, match your objectives. This helps to safeguard a successful delivery process.

Doing ABM well requires knowledge and a carefully crafted process, but it’s something that you can learn, It’s not just for the big guys, as we explained here. If you are new to it, consider getting an agency to support and guide you and help with the heavy lifting. Start small with a pilot of 3-5 accounts (if you are going for a 1:1 approach) or up to 50 for 1:few approach where you research at a sector not an account level. By following this process, you can deliver high quality leads into the business and become an indispensable strategic partner to your sales team.

If you would like some help implementing an ABM campaign, or on any other marketing aspects, do get in touch.

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

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