Account-Based Marketing (ABM) for B2B Brands
ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING: The “Not-So-New-Next-New-Thing” That B2B Brands Are Buzzing About
What it is: Account-Based Marketing, or “ABM” if you want to be acronym-cool, is a b2b marketing approach where a brand identifies and communicates with an individual prospect at a customer or prospective customer account, treating them essentially as a market of “one.” So you would target Joan Smith, the director of operations at ABC Company specifically, because Joan Smith represents $1 million in potential new business over the next calendar year.
Why it’s Not-So-New: We recently mentioned ABM to a b2b marketing friend at a manufacturing company, and she said, “You mean interacting directly with key strategic customers and prospects on a regular basis, and sharing thoughts and ideas that would be of direct benefit to their business? Umm. . . We’ve been doing that for years.”
Why it’s Getting “New-Worthy” Attention: In a word: digital. The new digital toolkit enables b2b brands to have more expedient and highly personalized communications with the “Joan Smiths” of the world. Instead of broadcasting mass emails, websites, and direct marketing, think of a personalized micro-site only for, and only accessible to, Joan Smith. Think about a specific multi-touch campaign just for Joan Smith, focusing on her specific business needs and goals. Think research, advice or guidance all focused on making Joan Smith’s life better. Think of ABM as a daily marketing mission to do one thing: engage Joan Smith in a manner that enables her, while reflecting positively on your brand. And with marketing automation platforms, a number of the steps can be automated to make the logistics of one-to-one ABM easier.
A Funny Thing about Effective ABM: ABM campaigns are often most effective when initial communications are non-digital, starting with a personal letter, or even a handwritten note. Then they can escalate to the more interesting and tangible marketing deliverables, such as a personalized 3D mailer. While some consider these tactics a little old-school, they go a long way in the face of mostly digital communications to make an impact.
Getting Started: For some b2b brands, ABM may seem like a “we don’t have enough bandwidth” to get there scenario. As the expression goes, “How does one eat the elephant? One bite at a time.” Start small. Start with no more than 25 ABM targets. Set up an ABM strategy and work on those targets every month. By the end of the year, it should translate into not only 2-3 new pieces of business, but 2-3 outstanding relationships that will grow your business substantially.
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