It shouldn’t be arduous to give the public what it wants. Yet marketing and sales are often at odds on their mission. According to research 22 percent of companies surveyed believe that their sales and marketing departments are working together to pursue the same goals.
An account-based marketing approach might be just the method to end this madness. According to Forrester, while there is still a growing trend of researching online, with the study showing 74 percent of business buyers do more than half their research online, almost 90 percent of purchases remain in the hands of a salesperson.
In order to align marketing projects with sales, while maintaining a focus on the customer, more marketers are using account-based marketing. If you’re interested in ramping up your marketing successes, read on.
How to Define Account-Based Marketing
What is account-based marketing? It’s a strategic way to do business marketing with an emphasis on account awareness. The organization’s mandate is to consider and communicate with the individual prospect or customer account as if they were a market of one.
This type of marketing is usually applied in enterprise-level sales organizations, and is most beneficial in business-to-business efforts. Account-based marketing helps companies do the following:
- Increase account relevance
- Engage earlier and higher with deals
- Align marketing activity with account strategies
- Get the best value out of marketing
- Inspire customers with compelling content
- Identify specific contacts at specific companies within a specific market
How is it Different From Traditional Marketing?
It differs from traditional business marketing in that it isn’t organized by industry, product or channel (such as with direct sales, social outreach or public relation initiatives). Instead, account-based marketing uses all these platforms and focuses them on an individual account. Customers are often bottom-line oriented and see no difference between competitors outside of pricing, so this provides an avenue to differentiate one’s product or service.
Account-based marketing can expand a business’ existing accounts when marketing complex propositions. For example, Northrop Grumman used account-based marketing to help them complete a $2 billion deal.
How Marketing & Sales Interact
Account-based marketing helps align the roles of the sales and marketing teams to tactically combine their efforts to achieve defined sales goals. Sales offers marketing feedback to help them identify new markets.
Since account-based marketing is focused on accounts rather than traditionally drawing customers to a product or service via inbound marketing, sales and marketing departments need each other. Marketers are used to marketing to people, while sales tend to sell to companies, so the two must work hand-in-glove for account-based marketing to succeed.
Why Use Account-Based Marketing?
While it’s not a magic bullet that pierces all marketing strategies, account-based marketing can be used as a supplement, or a way to focus on multiple buyers at the same company. As noted, it’s a good strategy for larger and more complex opportunities.
Account-based marketing is a great way to personalize your audience, as it’s dedicated to the decision-makers. The marketing push targets them, which is easier than a wider net that often diffuses your message.
It’s also easier to see a return on investment when your relationship is with the buyer. The connection between marketing push and close of sale is more explicit than implied. Because of this, less time is wasted on marketing campaigns that don’t bring in new business.
The sales cycle is shortened by an account-based marketing approach. Not all leads become customers. But with account-based marketing those leads are more likely to be interested, so sales doesn’t have to waste time chasing lost leads. Rather, they can focus on those leads that have a greater potential to become actual customers.
- No more personas
Step away from the traditional approach of building personal groups based around what you think the target audience looks like. Typical personas come from a portrait of what those who would use your product or service would probably look like. But that’s too general for account-based marketing, which seeks exact individuals within the account. It targets not with a wide sight, but sharply on those who have purchasing power.
2. Know Your Target
Account-based marketing is all about the laser focus on individual accounts over the scattershot approach. If you don’t clearly define who that target is then you’re destined to fail before you begin. To do this, both marketing and sales teams must collaborate since this is a group effort that must be coordinated between the two.
Even more than exact targets within an account, try to micro-target. The time it takes to craft that more focused message pays off. You can even take your account-based marketing list, which is already narrow, and further detail it so messages can have the most impact.
4. Think Beyond C-Suite Executives
While it’s important to reach the decision-makers and target them with your campaign, there are many people with their trigger on purchasing who reside below that C-suite level of executive. To leave out these other people is to miss on potential opportunities. Lower-level employees impact the buying cycle and often rise in the corporate hierarchy by the time a sale is ready to sign.
5. Do the Research
If you have a target, that’s only the beginning. It’s a good start, but it requires deep research. Get intimately familiar with everything about that account, from the company structure, who the key players in the organization are and how to reach them. Use all resources from personal to online to gather this essential data.
6. Make the Content
Now you’re ready to develop content targeting decision-makers at the company that speaks to their specific business. Keep the focus narrowly based on a single deal that you want to make. Know the purpose of your content, how it fits in with the data and how you plan to disseminate it so it’s read by the people that make the decisions.
7. What Channel Is Best?
In order to get your content in front of the right people, you must know what’s the best way to promote it. What is the most effective way to get that message to the targets within an organization? There are of course the top five social platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Find out how they consume their content and focus on that platform.
8. Follow Through
The message is personalized, but that personalization belongs to every aspect of the purchase journey. So, if you’re working on a social campaign that is highly targeted, when the potential customer clicks through they better land on a page that is equally targeted to their needs and pain points—or risk losing them at this point.
9. Have Many Ads
The ads must be targeted, but they can be spread over a larger landscape if they’re not in direct competition with each other. AI is used for ad creation and to read ads, so even though ads must be highly targeted, they must also be readable by AI. Therefore, having many ads running at the same time with different messaging gives you data on which are working best.
10. Run and Measure the Campaign
Make sure that the campaign you’re running, especially if you’re using many ads over different platforms, has a message that doesn’t vary but stays targeted on the purchase-makers and their needs. Then learn from the campaign by having metrics to measure its success. Ask yourself if you’ve reached the people who you wanted to target, how is the account engaging with your content and how much revenue was generated?