If you’re looking to start your Account-based Marketing (ABM) journey, you’ll need to understand each approach so you can best evaluate which is right for your business. As a former VP of Marketing, I received a lot of questions from the leadership and Board about the ins and outs of ABM strategies - educating yourself so you can educate them is key.
There are three approaches which we’ll be examining in depth in this blog series. Firstly, we’ll be looking at 1:1 ABM, also called strategic account or named account strategy. This is the most highly customised strategy and engages strategic high-value accounts with the highest revenue potential. The majority of marketers favour one approach, but others use a combination. There is no right or wrong - only what’s best for you.
That said, the following scenarios best lend themselves to 1:1:
- If you have a small pool of high-value companies you work with
- You’re looking to target CEOs
Often, ABM 1:1 is an ABM program focused on expanding and deepening relationships with existing customers. (Typically, 80% of these accounts will be current customers) and should be reserved for a maximum of 10 accounts.
Why so few? Because this is the ultimate in personalisation. These accounts get completely bespoke sales and marketing with deeply customised content.
It goes without saying that for this strategy in particular to succeed:
- You must have buy-in from the leadership and the RevOps team
- You must be in it for the long haul (minimum 6 months)
- You cannot do this on the cheap. You’ll see the ROI is worth it.
The heavy lifting
This personalisation means thorough account research, exacting standards of collaboration between Sales, Marketing and Customer Success and asset creation for each target within the account. This isn’t for those looking to dip their toes into ABM: you must be all in.
Deep account research: Map out each buying centre to understand areas of revenue potential. Build out the buyer’s organisation chart to ascertain the decision makers, contacts you know and where you need to build relationships. More to the point, get to know the individuals within the account.
People buy people, remember?
Research key business priorities and publish detailed account dossiers integrated with sales account plans. Consider internal chat groups or forums for each account.
Personalised content: Create customised marketing content, value propositions and messaging.
Dedicated programmes: Drive executive briefings, innovation days, high-end experiences and other marketing activities just for that one account.
1:1 attention: Involve the entire organisation, from the CEO down, to create executive engagement and personal meetings.
Dedicated resource: Not only do Marketing and Sales teams and CS need to be working hand in glove, but you’re going to need people fully dedicated ABM teams to create and oversee these campaigns. A dedicated graphic designer, content writer(s), and an ABM lead to name a few.
This is why most do not go it alone with 1:1 ABM in particular and where external agencies come in handy. This ABM campaign requires an intense amount of activity within a short period of time, which often also makes agency support more cost-effective.
Targeting the right accounts
Targeting the right accounts is crucial to success. This is not a “pick out of the hat” moment. Moreover, you’ll have every Sales and CS team member clamouring to tell you why their specific account should be chosen.
This is why ABM sits in and is driven by Marketing. And why you will need an ABM programme process in play.
Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Identify industries, size, turnover, etc.
Build your ICP list: Apply your ICP criteria to your target market. This will result in specific companies that you should be targeting.
Tier your prospecting activities: Identify your strongest to weakest opportunities and tier them for optimum engagement. Your tier 1 accounts are those that should be considered for 1:1.
Build an account selection process: To maintain objectivity, build a process where you score factors that outline the state of that account, their likelihood of churning, how much they spend/could spend with you, engagement rate etc., that best determine their fit. Remember, 1:1 accounts are “must win” or “must defend” key accounts.
This will need to be done before you start focusing on ABM.
Step by step
Facts: There’s a lot to do, and it’s overwhelming. Let’s break it down.
Map it out
What does your target account statuses and relationships look like?
- Agree on objectives for each account.
- What research and insight do you need for each account? E.g. Stakeholder mapping, executive profiles, opportunity analysis, etc.
- What does success look like?
Kick-off with an alignment session between involved teams. Assign tasks and deadlines - this should be done in week one.
Note: Your Sales team should not lead the research and analysis piece but corroborate findings from Marketing.
Account IntelWeeks 2-4 are intense and will require close collaboration.
- Identify key stakeholders and contact details
- Account profiles to be completed: SWOT, supplier landscape, strategic goals
- Relationship mapping
Strategy and planning
You’re a month in, and it’s time to regroup on strategy:
- Replay account insights - does it ring true?
- Map opportunities and focus areas
- Prioritise opportunities into an account plan for each
- Agree strategy per account
Account messaging and GTM
Each account will require its own specific value proposition and supporting messages. How are you going to add value to this account - particularly if they are new to you? It’s easy to list benefits, but this defeats the purpose of this approach; this is not actually about you; it’s about your target. What are their pain points, challenges, and goals? How can you help them eliminate or achieve them?
- Develop key content assets, customised content, landing pages etc.
- Develop a detailed GTM plan
- Executing campaigns
From around week seven onward, you’ll be building and rolling out your account campaigns. You’ll be developing content assets and executing against your plans.
People at this level receive a lot of jostling for attention. Make sure you grab it. Just another email or webinar isn’t going to cut it here.
Measuring and ROI
By three months in, you should have your campaigns in play - which means that you should be tracking the success (or lack thereof) of the various elements in your campaigns.
Make sure you:
- Review every activity and how it landed - is there something you can tweak? What are your learnings?
- Implement quarterly account reviews of the plan across your RevOps team.
If you’re looking for more information on account-based marketing strategy, check out our ABM 101 guide on the topic. In the meantime, stay tuned for parts two and three of this series, where we look at 1:Few and 1:Many, respectively.
Give us a shout if you have any questions - we’re here to help.