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September 12, 2017
Move over ABM – ABX is the way to go and here’s how to do it on the cheap
A few weeks ago, I was talking to the CEO of a startup technology company about her marketing strategy, specifically her desire to move to an account-based strategy. As we went further into the conversation, she mentioned how overwhelmed she was with the number of vendors providing account-based solutions and the feeling that they were not going to be successful with this strategy without a major financial commitment.
This instantly gave me a flashback to my senior capstone course in college and reading the book, “Guerrilla Marketing,” by Jay Conrad Levinson. One of my key takeaways from the book was focusing on low-cost, high-profit creative marketing, with the basic requirements being time, energy and imagination versus money.
So how do you start implementing an account-based strategy without a large financial investment?
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Full Funnel Buy-in
The first step in truly becoming a more account-centric company is to have the desire and need to implement this change within your company. If marketing is onboard with implementing account-focused targeted campaigns and sales is not bought in or involved, it is very unlikely you will be successful.
Businesses need to stop thinking about it as account-based marketing and instead think of it as account-based everything (ABX). It is no longer owned by just marketing. Instead, it requires accountability and ownership across the entire revenue funnel, from marketing to sales to retention.
Getting buy-in and ownership is the hardest part of executing an account-focused strategy, as it has to be driven from the top.
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If you are struggling to generate buy-in at your organization, check out this blog from Technology Advice for tactics on how to sell ABM internally.
Identifying Your Audience
Once you have buy-in from the organization, your ABX team needs to define your ideal customer profile (ICP), as well as identify the target accounts that meet your criteria.
The beautiful thing about this step is that it requires data you already have. Now don’t get me wrong, there are tons of awesome predictive vendors that can provide you with more data then you could possibly consume, but when you are getting started, stick with what you already have. Once you exhaust those resources, then add a vendor.
When determining the criteria for your ideal customer profile (ICP), leverage your CRM to evaluate your existing customers. Run reports on your existing customers and determine key attributes that they have in common, such as:
- Company Size
- Technology Stack
- Location and General Demographics
- Job Titles of Product Champions
- Other Relevant Information Specific to Your Industry
After establishing your criteria, it’s important to work with sales and customer success teams to validate this information and ask additional probing questions about what characteristics they believe make an ideal customer.
Here is an example of what an ICP could look like.
Company ABC’s ICP:
- B2B SaaS Company
- Located in the United States
- ARR of $10 million
- Uses a CRM & Marketing Automation Platform
- Company Size is between 500-5,000 employees
Terminus has also created a great worksheet for mapping out your ICP.
One of the top issues businesses run into when building their ICP, is that there are key pieces of data they are not tracking.
Your ICP is only as good as the data that you are tracking. If your organization is running into this issue, make sure you are gathering these details through your sales and marketing processes from that point onward. Create appropriate (and perhaps mandatory) fields at the lead and account level in your CRM and work with your teams to populate them accordingly.
Turning Prospects into Targets
Now that you understand the characteristics of your ideal customers, you need to leverage your existing prospects in order to turn them into target accounts.
This requires a bit of a shift from traditional person targeting and, instead, encourages organizations to target accounts versus individuals.
There are really three types of account-based marketing, and most businesses use a combination of the three, relative to where the account is in relation to your ICP.
While most companies would love to do “Strategic ABM” and truly do fully-customized marketing and sales touches for all of their accounts, it is often not realistic from a budget and time perspective.
It is helpful to further classifying your accounts into subsequent tiers and then aligning those with the type of ABM strategy we are going to leverage. This allows your organization to make sure you are investing the right resources into the right accounts based on how well they fit your ICP.
Here is an example of account tiering:
|Account Tier||Criteria||ABM Strategy|
|Tier 1||Top 20 Accounts that meet all of our ICP Criteria and Sales has indicated are their primary targets||One to One|
|Tier 2||All the accounts that meet all of our ICP Criteria that have not been “cherry picked” as Tier 1||One to Few|
|Tier 3||All the accounts that meet some of your ICP Criteria||One to Many|
By creating a formula field within your CRM to set the account tier based on your ICP, you will ensure that you are executing the right strategy both from a marketing and sales perspective.
Execute & Measure
Now that you have identified which accounts you want to target and how, it is time to really create your ABX playbook and execute your strategies.
It is very important that both marketing and sales work together to determine what their tactics will be. ABX is truly a group effort. An easy way to do this is to schedule a strategy session for both teams to come together to identify the right channels for promotion, content and follow-up touches.
When creating content and determining channels, it is critical to ensure you are talking to the account with the right message, at the right time and in the right place. This requires a great deal of testing and monitoring, but it is important to branch out and test new channels to determine if they stick.
Once you have started executing your ABX tactics, it is vital that you are monitoring their impact on your business.
A few key pieces of measurement you should pay attention to:
- How many accounts did we engage at each tier?
- Where are those accounts today? Did they progress in the funnel?
- Are tier one accounts moving faster than other tiers?
- Of the accounts we engaged with, what is their contribution to pipeline? Revenue?
- What is our ROI on account-based initiatives?
- How does our ABX performance compare to non-ABX?
Invest When It Makes Sense
Once you have built and executed your “grassroots” ABX strategy and are starting to produce results, it is then important to consider making an investment in additional technology to help streamline and scale your efforts.
KissMetrics has a great blog on what qualities you should look for in ABX solutions, which include:
- Action-Oriented Insights
- Lead & Contact Automation
- Reliable Support and Services
- Integration with Existing Solutions
A Guerrilla Approach to ABX
So just as my flashback to “Guerrilla Marketing” reminded me that businesses should focus on low-cost, high-profit marketing, let this article remind you that AMX does not require a large investment in tools to get started.
Yes, it will take time and some energy. But with these key takeaways, it will hopefully not require as much imagination.