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A Quick and Dirty Guide to Launching an ABM Program

July 16th, 2018 Tessa Barron

This post was originally published on abmleadershipalliance.com.

B2B marketing has no shortage of techniques, methods, and strategies to use at a moment’s notice. Some are new, some are old, and some are finally just now getting their time in the spotlight.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) belongs to the latter. As a concept, one which hyper-targets accounts likely to convert into revenue, it’s been around for a while — roughly 15 years or more. But, for many, it’s only just now taking off.

That’s because B2B marketing technologies have only just caught up with the concept. These new tools, in general, simplify the process of identifying possible accounts, targeting messaging to those accounts, and guiding the desired accounts through a company’s marketing funnel.

Still, the method stands on at least two core principles. First, identifying accounts with a high propensity to buy for targeting. Second, sales and marketing must coordinate to act as a cohesive unit. And that’s it. Simple principles, sure, but executing on them can be complicated.

Organizations, to simplify, need to plan their approach to ABM, understand which tools they should use and why, and prepare to experiment with the revived tactic.

Plan

The first step to execution is deciding if you should deploy an ABM program.  Such programs, given their hyper-targeted nature, aren’t always a cost-efficient choice and are usually targeted towards deals approaching tens of thousands of dollars or more. Just be aware low-yield deals are not a good use of the time and resources needed in an ABM program.

As a part of aiming high, organizations need to have their ABM strategy in place well before execution. Teams, from marketing and sales to operations and customer service, will need to understand their role in the program and what the program is trying to achieve overall. Take the time to launch a small pilot program to get a better sense of what your teams will need to execute an ABM program. A pilot program will give you the opportunity to suss out ideal customer profiles, processes and more.

Tool up

The second step to running an ABM program is to tool up. Fortunately, today’s marketing technologies are sufficiently advanced enough to help identify, target and measure progress in ABM programs and more.

What should you look for in an ABM tool? For starters, flexibility. Those considering an ABM program should look for tools that provide value regardless of implementing a new method. Look for tools that provide a sturdy foundation to build your ABM program on — you’ll thank yourself later.

Organizations should also keep an eye out for tools that measure visitor engagement and interest — and we’re not talking about simple interactions like clicks. Tools that measure content engagement, prospective interaction across channels and more are invaluable for understanding the buyer’s journey. They’re also useful for measuring target interest, participation and progress for ABM programs.

Highly-specialized ABM solutions are great, but only when a program is mature enough to thoroughly enjoy and take advantage of their capabilities. Take the time to scout out some nice-to-have solutions you’d like to integrate when you feel your program is mature enough.

Improvise, adapt, overcome 

The most detailed plan won’t survive contact with the battlefield. When it comes to ABM, you and your team will need to prepare for unexpected developments, regardless of whether they’re internal or external.

For example, while critical internal stakeholders may understand what’s going on with an ABM program, their broader team may not — meaning you have a communications problem. You can address that issue by broadening discussions around ABM. Alternatively, you might be taken aback that your program isn’t performing as expected — even when you’ve targeted key personnel on an account. Here, you may have gotten too specific, and forgot to include that account’s wider team members, from support to senior staff, in your targeting.

The point is: don’t expect perfection out of the gate. Be ready to adjust your hypothesis and broaden your experiments to see what works.

ABM programs are potentially huge in both production and results. As with any marketing technique, take the time to figure out if it’s right for you and how you can incorporate it into your marketing program — and be prepared to make adjustments. After all, for many, ABM is new and ripe for innovation.