9 Steps to Successful ABM Implementation

So, you want to be an account-based marketing master, huh? Well, slow down a second, partner, there are a few things you should consider before running head first into an account-based approach for your business. I’ve prepared a list of 9 (that’s right, 9) steps you can take to get off the runway and fly into the skies of ABM.So, sit down (if you’re not sitting already), buckle-up, and enjoy the ride.

All Aboard!

Account-based marketing isn’t just a strategic approach to sales, it’s a lifestyle change of a business; a new mindset. You’re going to have a lot riding on the success of your account-based efforts, so it’s important that everyone in the business has a keen understanding of what it is. Management must know the workings of ABM, sales must set reachable goals, marketing must be willing to work alongside sales. Success is teamwork, and teamwork is a combined effort to define goals, tactics, strategies and more as you move through your account-based journey.

Choose Your Loadout

No, I’m not talking about a “loadout” in a video game like Call of Duty. What I am talking about is the staff in your business place. Make sure you have the right people to implement ABM properly. These people should have a deep understanding of the market you’re going to be selling to. IT Services? Maybe a salesman with a background in IT would be wise. Non-profit organizations? Maybe your marketing guru volunteers her weekends at a local charity and has a good understanding of the industry.Professional whistlers? I’m not sure what to tell you here, but you get the idea.

 Set Some Goals, Man!

Okay, so you’re ready to start personalizing content and blasting out emails to qualified accounts. Great. But what do you hope to accomplish by doing this? What is your end-game? The first thing you should be doing before you start with ABM is to set goals; measurable ones. You need something to base success off of, and blindly doing things is going to get you, your business, and your wallet, anywhere. Some example goals I use are as simple as emailing a certain number of accounts a week during an email campaign. Or building a list of 100 qualified accounts and sectioning them into your “best-bet” accounts, your “sure, I’ll try” accounts, and your “I’ve got nothing to lose” accounts (tiers 1,2, and 3). They don’t have to be extremely complex (they can be if you want, don’t let me tell you what to do), but as long as you set goals, you’ll be better off.

Eyes on the Prize (Accounts)

So now that you have everyone aligned and your goals set, it’s time to target the right accounts. I understand that this may be easier said than done for some industries, which is why you craft an ICP (ideal customer profile). Basically, an ICP is a breakdown of the nitty-gritty of your perfect customer. Their revenue, employee size, industry; anything really. This fictitious company is who you want to sell to; they’re out there in the real world, trust me. Some say that the best way to build your ICP is to make a list of your 10 best clients and combine the best attributes from each (that are beneficial to you).

Who Works at my ICP?

Now you have this dream client but nobody to work there. Who are you going to reach out to for sales and content? Wait a minute, you created an imaginary company, why not create imaginary people too? That is exactly what a persona is, it’s the individuals within your ICP’s buyer committee that you will be delivering personalized content to. Take heed traveler, as these are just as detailed as your ICP. One wrong note, fact, statistic, or blurb about your persona and your entire campaign can be ruined, so do your homework.

Letter for Mr. Persona

ABM is all about personalization (there’s a difference between personalization and customization, but we’ll get to that), and lots of it. The content you’ll be sending out to your personas will be highly personalized highly customized content that is thought provoking, engaging, charming, and begs for a response. But how do you make sure that this content will be that amazing? Three things. Research, research, and research. You have to know your personas like they’re your best friend. You have to know what makes them happy, sad, frightened, and use that data as a tool in the creation of your content. If you haven’t already figured it out, ABM is not a cookie cutter approach to marketing, each piece of content has some alteration to it with each persona that it is put in front of. By the way, the difference between personalization and customization lies within the name. Personalization speaks to the person, customization speaks to the customer. One more thing, as a member of the marketing team, you’re going to have to keep the machine that is sales well-oiled with content. They’re going to need a large portfolio of content to continuously interact with your clients.

Speaking of Content

Yeah, I know I said the content has to be personalized, but you may be wondering “golly gosh, how personalized?” Well, that’s ultimately up to the goals of your business. See, ABM can be broken into three “levels”. I like to think of these as levels of intimacy between your clients and you. Level one, or the 1-1 approach, is extremely personalized, and best for small businesses as they usually don’t handle many companies, and could make them all feel special. In fact, it’s so personalized that your email may begin by congratulating the CEO of a client on their son’s win at his little league game (okay, maybe not that personalized, but you get the point). This level requires high-intensity research and combing through personal pages of the decision makers of your target company. The next level, level two, is a 1-few approach, is best for small-to-mid size organizations as the client intake is big, but not huge. This approach is somewhat personalized, but loses the personal “touch” associated with 1-1. This method may include an email that congratulates the company your sending it to on big 3rd quarter gains (customized not personalized). This last method is called 1-many, and is best for big companies who have a continuous flow of clientele. This method, however, loses a lot of what makes ABM, well, ABM. An email seen from a 1-many perspective may simply have a swappable template, where company products or names can simply be interchanged to save the sender time and resources. Though it’s not as personalized or customized, it is still, technically, ABM, just not super ABM.

But I Can’t Drive Stick

Like with cars, there is both a manual and “automatic” way of doing things with marketing. In regard to ABM, the automatic way seems a whole lot easier than manual, but there’s a catch; the cost. Before you start your ABM strategy, you should have a “martech stack” (a compilation of marketing tools) either assembled or in mind. Yes, these programs will cost your company a lot, which is why you should definitely have a large budget set aside for ABM practices, but they will make the lives of both the marketing and sales teams a lot easier.

Testing 1,2,3

Alright, settle down we are almost there. You have your ICP, your personas, your marketing and sales experts, your martech stack, and content. What else could you possibly need for successful ABM implementation? Measurements. You’re going to need a way to measure the success of an ABM campaign. For example, you’re going to need to A/B test large lists of accounts to see what does and what doesn’t work. Why large lists? Well you’ll have a larger sample size to test on rather than a smaller list. Also, compare how you are doing to your goals set to make sure that everything is running smoothly as time progresses.

And there you have it, 8 steps to get yourself moving with an ABM at your business. It might seem like a lot, because it is, but when you have all the parts and use them together, you could hear the engine purr. As always, make sure to leave a comment below and I’ll answer as fast as I can type. I’ll talk to you soon.