14th February 2020 • 10 min read
This week, I’ve been writing to a guy called Yusuf.
To be honest, it hasn’t been that long but I already feel like I know him really well. He’s an engineer: intelligent, well-educated and driven. But he’s also seriously overworked and sometimes gets tetchy because his boss expects him to be an expert in everything when Yusuf doesn’t have the time. His boss doesn’t really care about the details – he just wants to see results.
I’ve been trying to help him by suggesting some small changes he can make to improve the company’s productivity and keep him in his boss’s good books. So far, he’s really been appreciating my support and I think it can only bring us closer together.
The only thing standing in the way of a beautiful relationship?
Yusuf has no idea who I am.
You see, Yusuf is a prospect in one of the many Account Based Marketing (ABM) programmes we create and run for our clients.
As a content creator, I spend my days writing to countless strangers on the internet (sorry Yusuf). To do it well, to create a connection, I need to make each individual feel like I’m writing just to them. And it’s more important than ever when it comes to ABM.
Instead of targeting a whole segment of your audience, in Account Based Marketing you’re treating an individual account as a market in itself. It gives you an incredible ability to tailor your messaging to the needs of that particular business and the individuals within it.
When done right, ABM really pays off. According to Sirius Decisions, The State of Account Based Marketing 2019 study, 91% of companies said ABM accounts had higher ROI than the control group.
Which means that on top of the market and persona insight you would have in a traditional demand generation campaign, you also need insight about your account and the real individuals who work within it.
Because they’re so tailored, ABM programs can be very time intensive. To get them right, you really need to take the time to find your ideal prospect accounts, who will be the best fit for your business. And once you’ve worked out which organisations you’re going to target, you need to decide which contacts within the business you’ll have the best chance with.
Building this kind of relationship requires an intense curiosity about your audience. When I’m writing for an ABM program of course I need to know who your prospects are, where they live and what they do for a living. But more than that, I want to get inside their heads. I want to know what drives them to get up and do that particular job every day. What do they hope for? What irritates them? What are they scared of? You need to fall a little bit in love with your customers.
Only once I know at least some of these things do I have any hope of striking up a relationship with your customer.
The reason my relationship with Yusuf got off to such a promising start was because I knew a lot about him. I understood his problems and knew exactly how to help him solve them.
Marketers often have a very good instinctive understanding of their customers, but don’t always have insight that’s formalised or written down. Here are some ways to extract the right information from your organisation and your audience.
You’ve probably got lots of useful insight within your company, if you ask the right people. Maybe you’ve already got some personas or some customer research which is relevant to this audience? Once you know what insight you have, you can start filling in the gaps.
ABM might be personalised by account, but all of your accounts will be affected in by broader market forces. You’ll need to look at industry reports and analysis and dig out existing market surveys and research.
Now it’s time to research each individual account. For each company, delve into everything they publish to see what they are saying about themselves. How do they present themselves on their website and social channels? Read their annual reports and published accounts to help you understand what issues the company is facing. You can also try analysing the thought leadership content they are creating and the events they host or exhibit at to find any recurring themes.
If it’s a known account, talk to your sales team. Chances are they’re familiar with the account and might have previously made contact. What they can tell you anecdotally is very valuable. If you’re lucky, they might even be able to give you some insight into the individual prospects in your account.
When it comes to getting to know each prospect, you can get some of the insight you need from existing personas or published research into similar job roles. Combining this with what you know about the business they work in will give you a more accurate idea of their concerns. You can add to this by researching your individual prospect. Looking at their social media profiles to see what they post, who they follow and what content they interact with will give you a good idea of their professional interests and how you can appeal to them. Treat this information with caution though, while it can give you great insight and a good hook for your content, rely too heavily on it and you’ll come across as creepy.
The joy of ABM is that you really can have a proposition for an individual, or an individual account. So you can create a campaign that’s tailored and personalised so it speaks directly to them, addresses their problems and presents your brand as an understanding partner who can help them achieve success.
If you’re ready to get up close and personal with your prospects, an ABM pilot programme is a great way to start. We’ve helped our clients to build one-to-one or one-to-few ABM pilot programmes which draw on the tools and knowledge you already have in your business. It’s a straightforward process and the best way to get familiar with the ABM methodology.
If you’d like to start your ABM journey or find out how we can help you with targeted campaigns, drop us a line.