One of the biggest benefits of account based marketing is alignment between sales and marketing. An oft-overlooked fact is that account based marketing also helps align all your marketing tactics. With that your marketing efforts deliver the most ROI through effectively investing your time and money on the right accounts.
Music is second nature to me. I got my masters in classical music before I graduated high school (and I still sing and play the keys socially) so, when I started examining marketing channel alignment, it was natural to see it in terms of my musical training. As such here’s my musical take on Account Based Marketing.
The Music of Marketing
Imagine a piccolo player. If she’s a talented player, her solo lines can be beautiful: trilling and skipping, fluttering and pirouetting in the air. But the piccolo is a very small instrument. The impact is at best minimal.
Now take that same piccolo player and build an orchestra around her. The dance of her instrument is joined with many other players exploring their own lines; suddenly her music is part of a greater whole. We now have a work of immense power, beauty, and inescapable emotion. This is a symphony or an opera. Music you can never forget.
As you put together your account based marketing strategy, you need to think beyond just one instrument. ABM is your orchestra that will help you create the symphony of marketing impact. Marketing at scale requires that you employ an orchestra of marketing channels and ABM helps you do that effectively. Each channel is an individual tactic, a player in the overall strategy that is account based marketing.
Bringing Harmony to the Arrangement
Talented as an orchestra’s many players may be, they are nothing without a score. With a score, they are the pinnacle of Western music (Puccini’s Tosca, Beethoven’s 9th, Shostakovich’s 5th). Without it, you have a group of highly specialized players, but the music is nothing but noise.
Your account based marketing also needs a score, a plan of execution that can take each set of accounts and tell you what players are required for each set and when they’re supposed to come in. The account list is that score that keeps all tactics aligned around the common goal of pipeline.
Separating and Identifying Your Orchestra Sets in Your ABM Symphony
In general, there are three unique stages of account development:
- Awareness – Demand generation strategies that draw a prospect to wanting to know more
- Engagement – Lead Generation strategies where a prospect exchanges their information for content
- Conversion – Nurturing strategies that both encourage a prospect to buy and keeps them happy, encouraging advocacy afterwards
What Works for the B2B Awareness ‘Section’
What works best isn’t necessarily all the instruments of an orchestra playing at once. Sometimes, only the strings play, other times players take extended solos. At the top of the funnel, awareness tactics take the stage. You want people to know about your company.
Targeted advertising, native ads, or content such as videos, infographics and blog posts get the word out about your company. Here, your content should be ungated. Users should not be required to exchange their information for it. This is not a lead generation play yet.
What Works for B2B Lead Generation
But if classical music is anything, it’s a study in contrasts. When the solo is joined by a full orchestra, the effect can be overwhelmingly beautiful. As an account moves from the awareness stage to lead generation, lead generation tactics kick in. Content now resides behind a gate. Users must exchange information to receive it.
As such it must be more valuable. Whitepapers, eBooks, or webinars are examples of content that reward a user for sharing their information. But this doesn’t mean you should stop awareness tactics. An account is comprised of many people, and it’s important to maintain awareness throughout its entire lifecycle.
Targeting your programs (or for Whom Are You Playing?)
You should consider your target accounts in the same way. When you build an account list, you may conceive of 5,000 discrete companies that are perfect for your products. But many of them currently have no current interest in your space. Don’t waste time with them. There’s data out there that can tell you what accounts are currently showing interest on topics that apply to your company. You should target them, even if it’s just 1,000 companies. Put your money where it counts. Focus on them.
Account Based Marketing Metrics and You (or Critiquing your ABM Masterpiece)
Success in ABM will show you how your channels moved your target accounts further in the buying cycle. How did my marketing tactics make an impact on my target accounts? Did we create awareness at an account? Did we move them to engagement? How effective were we in moving certain accounts all the way from awareness to engagement to conversion and which channels played their roles most effectively in doing that? Did an account move from one stage to the next? What tactics moved the needle? When an account converts, can you chart its path through the funnel? If you can, you know your account based marketing is working.
An orchestra is only as good as its players. However, the best players assembled together without any coordination/alignment can still churn out a cacophony while still doing their best. It is when they play together off the same score (aka your data based Account List), that your ABM channels will churn out a symphony of pipeline success.