The way we approach marketing strategies these days sometimes feels wildly different from anything we’ve ever done before. While technology certainly has changed the game in most respects, it hasn’t changed the desire to really target what our potential customers are after in a more personalized way.
Personalizing marketing content has been going on for as long as there have been marketers and customers.
Think back to small retailers in small towns, where the salesperson knew that Mary’s son Billy is five years old, loves sports and the color blue, and is about to start kindergarten.They would have blue shirts, pants and backpacks all ready for Mary to look at the next time she came in to their store. What’s more is that they’d know who Mary’s friends were, and could get that “community of influencers” on board through advertising in the newspaper or sponsoring the local baseball team.
It wasn’t called Account Based Marketing (ABM) back in the day, but it’s essentially a very similar thing. An approach to marketing based on identifying and qualifying accounts, and then connecting with the key decision makers within those accounts in a way that begins to build connections through the use of personalized content.
Is personalized content really the way to go? Is it too intrusive? Turns out, consumers actually prefer it and will gladly hand over their data in an effort to save themselves more time. What’s more is that ABM is already beginning to replace the traditional sales funnel.
The question isn’t necessarily whether or not ABM is worth it, the question is, as this trend continues to grow in 2018, how do we build ABM buy-in? Let’s take a look at these tips:
Get Team Support
The success of integrating ABM requires a close alignment of marketing and sales. If you don’t have the sales department on board with what you’re looking to accomplish, this strategy will never come to light. If you haven’t already figured out a way to get on the same team with your sales department, it’s time to take a look at the bigger picture.
Sales and marketing both have the same objective: to bring in more revenue. You need to work together. Launching an ABM strategy means you starting on the same page, and it will require ongoing collaboration and support. You’ll need to start here before you bother running it up the chain of command.
Show Financial Benefit
As with making most big decisions, we need to look at the numbers. Senior leadership will care about this when you present your ABM strategy – how does it affect their bottom line? You can show them the success that other companies have with ABM, as well as data to support the trend with this strategy, but at the end of the day, you’re going to need to use your own company’s data. Begin by pulling metrics on past accounts that were key to your business, but that were ultimately lost. Make a case for how using an ABM strategy probably would have saved those accounts.
One of the most important things to remember when trying to gain ABM buy-in is to help them understand the value of building relationships. The onus will be on you to help them understand how ABM works differently from other, more traditional marketing strategies.
While content marketing has become standard practice, the use of technology to target and personalize content to ideal customers is still new, and because it falls outside of the normal sales funnel, you’ll need to sell the value of nurturing relationships the ABM way. And while many teams have started using marketing automation software to segment and personalize their campaigns, there is danger in not making the move toward personalization. Data shows that by not treating your potential customer like a person, rather than a number, you risk losing them to another brand.
Remember that at the end of the day, you’re trying to make a connection between the objectives of the company and the objectives of the ABM program. What is it that each is trying to achieve? How can you be sure to mutually support those objectives through the use of this new marketing strategy? (Pro Tip: Start with a pilot program of just a small number of targeted accounts when you’re undertaking any new strategy such as this.)
Executive level decision makers need to see the value in what their sales and marketing teams accomplish, how it affects their bottom line, and understand the critical importance of nurturing relationships. Connect the objectives of the company with the objectives of an ABM program, and help them understand why moving outside of traditional sales funnels ultimately moves back to the personalized approach customers have always appreciated.
Have you read the ABM Playbook? Download and read the definitive guide to nailing your account-based marketing strategy. No fluff, just good stuff.