In a previous post, I outlined why creating a multi-channel ABM approach is so important to maximizing engagement on your ABM programs. In this post, I’ll let you know where to start, how to start, and why.
Too often I hear marketing leaders say something along the lines of, “Okay we think we’re ready to start ABM.” This is usually a bad sign.
ABM is different for everyone, and ABM in itself isn’t a strategy or even a campaign to just start up because it’s a buzz-phrase- it’s an approach you should utilize to accomplish specific marketing goals.
Before you dive into the details of executing any ABM play, it’s important to align your team on three key points to set yourself up for success:
- Purpose of your ABM play
- The accounts you’re targeting
- The prospects within those accounts you’re targeting
Without getting your team on the same page on these three key points, it’s easy for your ABM play to become unfocused, misaligned, and ultimately unsuccessful.
Step 1: Define the purpose of your ABM play
This is a point that is applicable to any campaign or play that marketers are trying to run: write out the purpose of what you’re trying to do. Instead of starting with “let’s do ABM,” marketers should start by asking a couple of simple questions to define the purpose of the play they’re running:
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What do we want these people to do?
It might sound overly simplified, but jumping into an ABM campaign without answering these two questions first is like setting sail without a destination or a map of how to get there. There’s no direction on where to go which makes it hard for people to climb aboard and halfway through your journey, you’re asking yourself “why are we on this boat in the first place?”
For the vast majority of ABM campaigns, you’ll typically see teams answer in one of these four ways…
Which helps to define one of four typical ABM plays:
Once you’ve defined your play, and you’re aligned on what you’re trying to accomplish and why, then you can start to dig into how you want to execute the play.
Step 2: Select the Accounts You Want to Target
No matter what type of ABM play you’re running, you need to make sure you’re picking the right accounts to target in order to be effective. Choosing the right accounts means you’re selecting accounts that are:
- Best fit for your solution
- Most ready to engage right now
- Aligned with sales strategy and goals
It’s easy to slip into a routine of doing account selection and targeting in a vacuum in order to execute your play quickly. But account selection should be less of a task, and more of a strategic input to your play. To do this right, you need to do three things:
- Define your Ideal Customer Profile: As an organization, not just a marketing team, you need to align on what an ideal customer account looks like to you- what industry? What size company? What infrastructure/ technology do they already have in place? Sean Kenny captures this ICP exercise perfectly here.
- Leverage Insights From Your Tech Stack: Whether it’s in your marketing automation platform, your CRM, you’re capturing intent data, or any combination of the three, once you’ve identified the accounts within your ICP, use the data from your tech stack to help prioritize who you’re most likely to engage right now.
- Align with Sales: Even once you’ve done the first two steps, it is critical to make sure sales is consulted and is bought into the list of accounts you’re choosing to target with your marketing initiatives. You want to make sure you have an aligned and coordinated initiative for engaging these accounts, and if sales isn’t in the loop, it just won’t work.
Step 3: Select the Prospects you want to Target
At the end of the day, accounts don’t buy from you, people do. This step often gets overlooked in an account-based strategy because marketers are so focused on knowing the right accounts, that they forget to spend the time to identify which individuals are most likely to engage.
The process is easy enough- narrow down your targeted list of prospects by taking the following steps:
- Identify Key Personas: Organizationally, you need to have a complete understanding of the types of people who are most likely to buy, or be involved in the buying decision. By creating these profiles, you’re teeing yourself up to select the right individuals from each account.
- Identify Likely Members of Buying Team: Leverage your existing database and contact discovery tools like DiscoverOrg or Clearbit to select the prospects from each account that fit your key persona profiles. By doing this, based on fit, you’re identifying the most likely individuals to engage with you.
- Target Based on Personalized Insights: This is where you want to tee yourself up to know exactly how to engage each individual. Do the upfront work to understand what these individuals actually care about, personally and professionally: know the responsibilities of their role, leverage intent data to know their professional interests and recent research trends, and know what they actually care about personally outside of work. Doing so will give you a 360 degree view of who this person, so you have a better sense of how to message to them.
This is just the set-up…
Going through these steps is what will set the foundation for your ABM play. Overlooking these steps will cause your play to be unfocused at best, and a waste of time and resources at worst.
Once you’ve set yourself up for success by going through this process, you’ll be ready to start designing your multi-channel coordinated play, and determine how you actually want to engage your prospects. We’ll hit on how to do that, next in this series.
If you want to learn more and didn’t have the chance to tune in to our webinar on this topic a couple of weeks ago, we’ve got you covered with the recording. Check out the link below to give it a listen!