It can be difficult for professional services in the B2B arena to reach the right buyers, particularly when there is a chain of gatekeepers guarding C-suite executives and top decision makers.
According to research, B2B buyers don’t pick up the phone or return calls as much as they used to, and it can sometimes take up to 18 calls to actually reach a buyer in the first place.
This just isn’t time effective, particularly if you’re trying to expand your reach and generate engagement amongst a range of different target accounts.
This is why a lot of B2B professional services are turning to account-based marketing (ABM). Essentially, this means companies are integrating sales and marketing strategies for different audience segments and personalizing the message that goes with those strategies to reach clients at different stages of the B2B buying cycle.
Research from The Alterra Group shows that ABM has a higher ROI than other marketing activities, with ITSMA stating that 87 percent of B2B marketers who actively measure the ROI of their activities say ABM outperforms all their other marketing investments.
So, if you’re not already leveraging the power of ABM, now is the time to start. But how do you actually go about doing it?
Times Are Changing for B2B Marketers
It’s no longer enough for marketers to send out one singular message to every segment of their audience and hope that it resonates in some way. Instead, they are turning to personalization and key customization tactics to generate a higher level of engagement and increase purchases.
This is mostly due to the fact that today’s buyers are savvier than ever before. They research their purchases before they invest, read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch webinars and more.
And, more than that, they crave a human connection with sellers — particularly sellers who have done their homework and understand the specific challenges they face. On top of that, they want to talk to sellers who are genuine and can add value (which eliminates canned responses and blanket messages).
Now, thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to leverage account segmentation, behavior and reporting.
Why ABM Is a Good Tactic For Professional Services
Consultants in the professional services industry tend to spend a lot of time qualifying leads in the hopes that they’ll convert. With ABM, the leads have pretty much been handpicked to fit your buyer personas which dramatically speeds up the lead generation process.
On top of that, B2B professional services brands tend to have a laser-focused idea about the businesses and brands they want to work with. This is particularly important for ABM because it means you can immediately start nurturing the brands that fit into your target persona profiles.
How to Implement ABM
1. Connect Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing work smoothly and in tandem in every successful ABM campaign. They are at the core of all activities, and therefore need to be aligned in every way possible.
It’s vital that you create a connection between your sales teams and your marketing teams, and you can do this by sharing processes, incorporating shared data and insights, and keeping open communication between both departments. In an ABM campaign, the sales team and marketing team work as one force rather than two separate, competing forces.
Your sales team will be able to identify the key issues your different target accounts faced based on common questions they ask, while your marketing department will know how to creatively respond to those issues.
2. Leverage Customer Data
Data is at the heart of ABM, and it can be used to tackle various different parts of an ABM strategy.
First, it gives you insights into the wants, needs and struggles of each target account, and it can help you determine where those accounts are in the buying cycle and what information is needed to push them further through the funnel. You can also tap into data sources to determine the best channels for delivering the information to your target accounts effectively — will it be social media? Email? Phone call? Or something else?
To begin with, you need to have an understanding of your current customer base to determine who your best customers are. You can then use that information to identify more, similar accounts.
3. Develop Account-Specific Messaging
Once you’ve identified the accounts you’re going to target and your sales and marketing teams are fully aligned, it’s time to hone the message for each specific account.
This involves using key data to determine their biggest struggles and using that to create content and information that speaks specifically to them. Then it’s a case of finding the right contacts within that account and getting a direct line to them.
Once you’ve sparked the relationship and are on the same page, you can begin to design a high-touch marketing plan that is geared solely toward each account.
Examples of Inspiring ABM Campaigns
1. Snowflake’s Content Experiences
Cloud-based, data-warehousing company Snowflake pooled its internal expertise and knowledge to create a high-quality content library. Then it mixed and matched content pieces to create unique and individualized experiences for target accounts.
Each of the 1-to-1 campaigns was developed alongside their sales reps to make sure the messaging was personalized to each account’s specific needs.
2. GumGum’s Interactive Content
GumGum, an applied computer vision company, were determined to seal the deal with T-Mobile. To attract and keep the attention of the company’s CEO, the brand undertook some serious data mining and research.
The company discovered that T-Mobile’s CEO is a huge Batman fan, so it used this information to create a comic book (aptly dubbed T-Man and Gums) that was shipped to T-Mobile. It was enough to win over the account.
Add ABM to Your Marketing Strategy
ABM not only reduces the amount of time it takes to qualify leads, but also it allows you to build a long and lasting relationship with your clients.
So, if you’re not already using this powerful marketing technique, now’s the time to start.