Much of today’s trade show marketing focuses on lead generation. But large sales to strategic B2B accounts typically aren’t decided by a single lead – they are often determined by a larger buying team, and each member of that team has unique needs that should be addressed. It is always a good idea to be strategic and dive deeper into B2B accounts, try to find more than one champion to help your lead turn into a sale.
This has given rise to what’s called “account based marketing” (or ABM), in which the target company is treated as its own unique market. Marketing to the account thus involves creating highly customized campaigns that address the business’s collective needs, with messaging targeted and personalized to each individual stakeholder.
Why ABM? Account-based outbound marketing has several advantages over inbound techniques. Specifically, ABM:
- Targets the customers most likely to convert
- Typically results in larger sales from your Tier I or Tier II prospects
- Facilitates upselling and expansion of existing accounts
- Better integrates the efforts of your marketing and sales personnel
- Generates a better ROI (return on investment) on your marketing dollar
The Key Steps to Effective ABM:
- Identify your Tier I accounts. Focus on profitable, growing markets where you have a known advantage. Your reps likely have already compiled mental lists via their sales calls and trade show floor time. Get that information down on paper or into your database.
- Identify prospects at each account. Look into your CRM data to see if you already have customers or prospects. This is where those trade show attendee lists come in. You can also use tools such as LinkedIn, company websites, and social media to collect employee names, or work with one of the many data providers to get a list of contacts and an organizational chart for each account.
- Define the personas. You messaging will vary depending on whether you’re addressing a purchasing agent or a CFO. So, start by identifying 3-5 different personas, or buyer personality types, on the buying team.
- Identify needs and pain points. Your event staff likely has a lot of insight into these accounts by virtue of information obtained on the trade show floor. Scan annual reports and the account website for recent account developments. The companies’ corporate social media feeds (as well as the individual Twitter feeds of key personas) also contain a wealth of information. But be sure to wed these insights with industry trends, which you can find on trade websites and analyst reports.
- Craft your messaging. As always, content is king. In order to establish your company as a thought leader, you can’t send out boring, boilerplate messaging. The goal is to create personalized emails and supportive content that prove you understand the account, its products and services, its competition, and its business goals and challenges. Be sure your content is expansive enough so that you can appeal to each persona at each stage of the buying process.
Whether you’re manually crafting personal emails or running a complex drip campaign via your CRM software, don’t give up on any given account too quickly. Just because an account doesn’t respond one month doesn’t mean they won’t later in the year. Always remember it can take an average of 8 no’s to get one YES.
A general rule of thumb is to refrain from turning over more than 25% of your accounts in any three-month period. That time frame could obviously be longer if you have a long sales cycle. ABM clearly requires a longer-term campaign commitment than the average inbound marketing campaign. But when done well, the enhanced return on investment and the improved partnership between your sales and marketing teams will be well worth the effort.