Account Based Marketing is one of the B2B marketing tactics SMEs should focus on for 2021 – and the good news is it’s a natural fit. Smaller B2B firms turning over under £5m are already skilled in hyper-personalisation and relationship building. It’s a natural step for these same firms to embrace a deeper Account Based Marketing approach.
ABM – Back to basics
The business owners we work with [check out some of them here] favour Account Based Marketing because it’s a true marriage of sales and marketing. Think of it as harking back to pre-2000 sales and marketing, only this time rocket fuelled using smart technology, and compelling content.
It’s also the antithesis of social media or Google Ads. With Account Based Marketing you’re not aiming to spread the net wide. Your aim is to laser-prioritise prospects, identifying those with the strongest opportunity for your business. The key is to start small, trying to cover too many prospects will spread you too thinly, and you’ll not have enough impact.
Once you have your top five prospects [yes, that’s all!], you can begin planning. With Account Based Marketing success hinges on your ability to get under the skin of your prospect, pinpoint decision-making stakeholders, and their individual challenges. That takes time, so don’t rush this stage.
Use all the insights available to you, research market share, landscape, competitors – spend time immersed in social media investigation, subscribe to their email newsletters, and track news updates.
ABM – Story strategy
Creating a bespoke story strategy for each of your stakeholders is the most effective way to ensure your marketing message is meaningful. It also the perfect opportunity to spot gaps in your proposition – useful as down the line these gaps could become a deal breaker for your target customer.
Account Based Marketing is about starting conversations and cultivating real relationships with your customers. So, once you know who you’d like to talk to, and what you want to say, the next step is finding opportunities to start that conversation.
The tactics you choose will depend on the individual prospects you are targeting and the budget you have to invest, but will likely include a mixture of tailored collateral, digital meetings and social engagement, as well as tailored virtual workshops and thought leadership designed to address specific challenges faced by your prospect.
In our experience intimate virtual workshop events work best, enabling your prospects to be heard more clearly by you, meaning you’ll learn much more [marketing gold].
ABM – Long-game
For SMEs adopting an Account Based Marketing approach the learning curve will be steep. Your team will need to become skilled at deep-research techniques, and you’ll need to allow them the time to complete this critical initial phase. But, by learning from your mistakes, or benchmarking the ABM techniques of your competitors, you will improve and be able to grow the number of prospects you’re targeting at any given time.
Of course, as this trend is utilised by more businesses, it will become harder to succeed. The key will be to improve the quality of your story telling if you are to reach your prospects effectively. For me, this is all made possible in the killer-research stage. By truly taking the time to get under the skin of your prospects – and crafting a story that resonates with them – you stand to make a greater impact.
Tips for ABM success
- Make sure the team is on board. Let’s be clear, ABM is not a quick fix. This is a long-term investment that’s designed to deliver more significant sales wins.
- Set realistic goals. When it comes to your high value, strategic accounts engagement goals are just as important as the final sales result. Set them, track them, celebrate them.
- Make it company-wide. ABM is not a marketing thing. It’s an account planning process that the sales team takes joint ownership for.
- Tell a good story. Be engaging, compelling and emotive. Don’t fire off a stream of facts. Construct a tailored story and use marketing story-telling techniques to make sure your message has the best chance of being heard.
Finally, Account Based Marketing is a highly effective tool, but it’s not the answer to everything. You also need to ensure that you’re still reaching out and engaging with prospects who don’t make the grade as a strategic account. They’re still important. Integrate your approach, re-use, re-purpose, and re-cycle content and you’ll find the time and energy you invested into initial deep-research pays dividends across your wider marketing efforts.
As a side note on this, email marketing is still the most effective B2B marketing tool for businesses wanting to stay front of mind with a wide database of contacts. If you’re looking for ways to improve passive marketing read our recent blog [spoiler alert] it’ll give you new insight into the role of email subject lines…
If you don’t have the luxury of time, or an in-house team to get to grips with PR, communications and marketing, you do have options. You could always invite some experts to help you. Ideally a team of people who have masses of experience working with businesses in the midst of a growth challenge.
Now, where can I find one of those?
Connect with Jill Willis via LinkedIn