Account-based marketing is transforming the Australian business to business landscape according to a key expert industry panel hosted by Growth Colony.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a business marketing strategy that concentrates resources on a set of target accounts within a market.
That’s according to US customer experience software company, Optimizely, which defines it as using personalised campaigns designed to engage each account and basing the marketing message on the specific attributes and needs of the account.
..Or as Shahin Hoda, Founder of xGrowth, more definitively put it to the audience:
“It basically allows you to land larger deals faster and close them quicker.”
Human to human
Andrea Dixon, APAC Marketing Director with DocuSign, said a well crafted and personalised approach is key to a successful ABM strategy.
“It’s human to human, putting yourself in potential customers’ shoes and trying to understand where they’re at and what they need to progress in their journey to becoming a customer.”
Natalie Mendes, Head of ABM APAC at SAS, said it’s crucial to identify the different stakeholders in the customer organisation and communicate to their unique needs and drivers.
“We were targeting the top 50 executives in one enterprise company we deal with,” Mendes told the audience.
“They had a specific need around a specific pain point that we researched, so we understood their language.
“We hired actors to develop a two-minute video that was talking to their particular needs. Within 48 hours we turned around this great video, which we stuck into a video brochure with a personalised letter from our MD.
“We sent that off and a week later got a response from the CEO, and about three weeks later were presenting to the executives.
“That was because we communicated to the company executives’ unique needs and drivers – and it was all on a very simple and low budget,” she said.
A delicate balance
Dixon said successful ABM strategy brings together art and science.
“You need great data to do account-based marketing well and identify the accounts that have the highest propensity to buy and we have incredibly sophisticated models to determine that, but the data underpins so much of that,” she said.
“Then it’s a case of marrying that with the art of judging what’s the next best thing to do to engage into that account.”
And while data and knowing your customer is critical, Dixon said there is a danger of pushing it too far.
“We’ve done some campaigns in the past where we have kind of stalked them on the internet to find out what their preference for wine is, and doing a high touch direct mail piece to send out to them – you can go too far” she told the crowd.
“It’s about balancing that personalisation and great creative and custom content.”
The bigger picture
Ultimately Hoda says it’s vital marketers realise ABM, as well as their marketing roles at large, are part of a broader framework, which is integral to delivering ROI.
“What’s really important, is for some of us marketers to put our ego aside and realise that sales is pivotal in this process, and we’re really here to give superpowers to salespeople with ABM,” he says.
“Yes, there are a lot of things that we are involved with and there are a lot of things that we’re going to be doing in terms of account targeted ads and some of the collateral we create.
“However, it’s really about taking sales from having a pistol and giving them a bazooka.
“I think sometimes we’re very proud as marketers, and we’re like ‘that is sales’ job’.
“And I think that’s one of the most important things that we can put aside.”
Don’t get overwhelmed
Those new to ABM are encouraged to dive in, but start small and don’t over complicate things.
“Just get ABM under your belt and learn about it, it’s getting hotter and hotter in the market,” said Mendes.
“Start small, it doesn’t have to be multiple accounts, start with one account, which is the most strategic and see how it goes,” Dixon said.
“Don’t make it complicated, do a handwritten note and send it to one person who’s a key decision maker,” Hoda said.
“It’s so easy to completely overwhelm yourself with ABM, so keep it super simple at first and build on top of those learnings.”