When starting any marketing initiative, a good place to start is with your goals. What do you want to achieve from a campaign or activity you’re about to undertake? This is no different with Account Based Marketing (ABM).
B2B businesses of any size can use ABM. If done correctly, 45% of marketers have reported, in a recent study, that they have doubled their ROI with ABM.
What you set out to achieve, will undoubtedly determine your ABM strategy and in this article, I’ll run you through the two main ABM strategies that we use with our clients.
1. Protect and grow ABM strategy
The ‘protect and grow’ approach is about retaining and growing existing accounts. Often, the priority of your business shouldn’t be landing new accounts. The opportunity is to grow your existing accounts, or ensuring a key account doesn’t churn.
As with all of ABM, this approach takes time and resources, making it suitable for accounts that have the potential for increased sales or provide a significant amount of your existing profit. You may want to consider this approach if you’re reliant on one or two big accounts.
Using the knowledge you already have of the target accounts (augmented with further research); highly personalised content is created. This can be done at a business level or if you’re targeting key decision-makers within the business, content will be specifically created for them.
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The types of content which often yield results include:
Thought leadership draws on the expertise and experience of people (usually senior management or employees with specialist skills) within your organisation to give unique insights, answer questions or provide solutions to problems your customers may have.
Thought leadership aims to position you as the ‘go-to’ brand in your industry. Using ABM, the content you create will be highly personalised to your target.
An innovation day involves sending a small team to meet with key people from your target account to solve a business problem. It’s an intensive day of brainstorming and they can be highly effective at demonstrating your understanding of the challenges your client faces.
This approach can be extremely effective if you’re trying to target your accounts key decision-makers or hard to reach senior management.
For direct mail to be successful you must get to know what interests these people and create content which appeals to them. Types of content that can be used include industry reports, whitepapers and trade magazines.
In a digitally-driven world, a direct mail piece can help your business stand out. And, studies have found that direct mail needs less cognitive effort, meaning messages are absorbed more quickly and easily.
However, if your aim is to acquire new clients a different approach is needed:
2. New business ABM strategy
This approach involves identifying an individual account or a cluster of accounts that have similar needs or interests. The ‘new business ABM strategy’ can also be used if you’re responding to an RFP or pitch.
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It’s unlikely that you’ll have in-depth data on these accounts, so you’ll have to spend some time researching and gathering information and insights into the business before you can start creating content. This will require desk-research, as well as talking to the team about the needs and challenges of similar clients you already have on board. Nevertheless, this strategy follows the same principle as the ‘grow and protect’ approach:
- Define the business challenge
- Identify and understand the key decision-makers
- Create personalised content that leads with the business benefit
Types of content that can be used include case studies, thought leadership, testimonials, direct mail and events, and anything else that is identified when gathering your data and insights.
Both strategies rely on you understanding the needs and interests of the target account(s), so you mustn’t rush into creating content without knowing all the facts about them first.
Once you’ve decided upon your strategy, it’s time to decide which type of ABM is right for you. To do that, read this article I’ve written on the three different types of ABM.