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Ken Dec: Account-Based Marketing Strategy

December 3, 2021

Ken Dec: Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Ken Dec: Account-Based Marketing Strategy

 Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B (business to business) tactic that companies use to create targeted marketing campaigns that are hyperfocused on a list of key accounts.

These campaigns are typically focused on high-value accounts to obtain the greatest return. Essentially, ABM helps companies save time, money, and energy that they would normally spend marketing to unqualified business leads, by directing it at an absolutely focused list of companies.

Although ABM is a useful and effective marketing strategy, it must be done correctly to work.

Dec is a marketing professional with experience creating and executing ABM strategies for businesses of all sizes, though he says that “somewhat larger” companies tend to use the strategy more often.

The biggest issue that he runs into is that companies often don’t have a specific enough idea of who they want to market to. “There's greater understanding from clients about what ABM is and why they should be doing it,” Dec says. “What I'm now finding is companies, whether they are pre-revenue, $30 million, or $100 million, have a vague understanding of what it is you're talking about when it comes to ABM, and pillar content.”

Dec finds that many companies will begin to develop a plan by trying to identify key accounts and build account plans, but they have not been able to connect the plan to the marketing side of the strategy: what to say to attract these key accounts

“I’m finding that the primary challenge is having Sales ready and prepared to execute, which is ‘Who are your ideal customers?’ ‘Have you built personas?’ And for the most part, the answer is ‘no.’ So, there is a better understanding and greater interest in pursuing [ABM], but there still tends to be a pretty significant lack of readiness to do it on the part of Sales.”

Build a Rock, Break off Pebbles of Content

To combat this lack of preparedness, companies must build their ABM programs around a central piece of pillar content – something they can base their efforts on.

“This is where I tend to talk to people about building a content ‘rock’ from which ‘pebbles’ can break off. Let’s build a big thought leadership piece that is your point of view on what's happening in the space that you serve, and then from there, you take chapters from that content block and turn them into social media, blog posts, and one-page PDFs and infographics,” Dec says.

“The idea here is to be really articulate: What's your point of view and vision for how you're going to solve whatever problems it is you solve in the market? Build one big thing, build a ‘rock,’ and then you can chip off these ‘pebbles,’ and there's your content plan for the year.”

This is a simple way to break down even the largest and most complex service solution into bite sized, consumable pieces of information prospects can bite on. Start by clearly defining your company’s role in the market, build a big point of view that articulates your point of view on the industry, and then create content from that point of view.

It’s important to note that this kind of marketing doesn’t involve product marketing at all. Therefore, the content plan that companies develop won’t focus on the goods and services they offer, but it will focus on establishing their role as experts and thought leaders in the industry.

Once the content plan is there, the next step is to hone marketing efforts to members of a specific audience – the high-value accounts that can benefit greatly from the products and services a company offers.

Targeting Prospects

Intent data, or data that shows what individuals are interested in and predicts what they are likely to do, say, or buy, is one of the best ways to discover ABM prospects. However, many companies aren’t willing to invest in the proper tools.

“I think intent data is one of the most useful things that you can have as part of your ABM arsenal, but most client companies are usually not spending what you currently need to spend to get intent data,” Dec says. “Intent data platforms are not cheap. The data is valuable, but it's generally not part of the starter kit.”

“Let’s say I'm in the ticketing software space, and I'm a smaller player. And I want to make sure I know when somebody is looking for these tools and particularly if somebody is searching for a service now or some other solution. In my experience in the B2B space, that is the most direct application. The intent data we want is, ‘Are they searching for our tools or are they searching for our competitors?’”

Once a company has an understanding of what their clients are looking for, they can act accordingly. In this case, they would call whoever is searching for a specific tool and offer the appropriate service, while simultaneously targeting them with pieces of that core pillar content.  This creates opportunity for product/service discovery, and warms prospects up to the eventual direct touch

In any case, the marketing method must agree with the core narrative that was defined in the earlier content plan.

The New Economy

The phrase “we are living in unprecedented times” is no less true today than it was in March of 2020. The internet (mainly social media), the global pandemic, and social unrest have quickly and drastically changed the world we live in – and there doesn’t seem to be a sign of it slowing down.

This means that companies must develop an intuitive marketing plan that is centered around their position as a thought leader in the industry, and in a way that goes beyond scheduled posts on Facebook and LinkedIn.

“There's a bit of a Facebook ‘infection’ kind of thing happening on LinkedIn right now, which is over-saturated in the content. It’s feeling increasingly diluted,” Dec says “because it's not as business thought leadership focused.”

There are a lot of different moving parts that are all critical for ABM execution across the board, including ideal customer persona, sales, and marketing integration, thought leadership content creation, content calendar, organic social media growth efforts, and email and phone campaigns.

When all the moving parts come together with a singular strategy to hold them together, a company will find success with ABM. And finding that growth is a whole lot easier to predict.

 


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