How to Do ABM Without Selling Your Soul

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Mayo on a sandwich. Hot sauce on a taco. Hot fudge on a sundae. All things that — when used properly — make the thing they complement way better.

But If you use too much of any of them, or use them in the wrong context( hot sauce on a sundae? No thanks .), or simply use them wrong( gobs of mayo, instead of a thin layer ), youave ruined a perfectly tasty snack.

As a marketer, the same concept applies to everything you do. If used correctly, every technology and tactic has the power to create better connections with your potential clients. If done without care, it can drive a wedge between you and your buyers.

Take social media. At HubSpot, people ask us all the time: “Will social media work for my business? ” The answer? Yes, absolutely! But only if you do it in a way that fits in with the style your purchaser wants to interact with you.

On social, people feel interrupted if you’re merely sending spammy mass messages. If you’re not providing them with quality content that their mommy, friend, or coworker could have sent them, you’re just another brand in the crowd. Or worse, a brand annoying them in their personal space, where they don’t expect to see brands interrupting. When youare cold, interruptive, and irrelevant , nobody wins.

Itas not just social. Itas virtually every tactic in todayas marketing playbook. Email, ads, popup forms, video, and all the remainder. Do it in a human-friendly route, and everybody wins. Do it in a permissionless, cold, disruptive style, and youare in trouble.

Account Based Marketing fits squarely into this thread. Done right — in a customer-centric and human-friendly way — it can play an impactful role in an effective marketing strategy. Set simply, a company-centric B2B approach doesn’t have to be spammy.

What is ABM, Anyway?

Account-based marketing seems slightly different depending on who you ask. But at its core is one central topic: the idea of company-centricity.

If youare B2B, youare selling to businesses. Generating five thousand leads doesnat matter much if those leads arenat within the businesses you want to sell to. This idea of company-centricity applies to everything in ABM. You generate accounts( rather than leads ). You engage with all the key stakeholders within those accounts. You close accounts. And you measure account participation and growth.

What is ABM Not?

More often than not, the concept of ABM is associated with targeted outbound. It looks like this: choice a decide of companies youad like to marketplace and sell to. Use online databases to build an org chart for those companies. Use tactics like cold email and calls, direct mail, and live events to engage the key stakeholders at those accounts that you found in your research. Close deals with those accounts. Then “land and expand” into other parts of the business utilizing similar tactics.

This outbound-heavy interpretation of account-based marketing is misguided and miserable.

We ensure examples of soul-less ABM emails all the time. I’m sure you do too. Rather than call any one company out — here’s a compiled fictional instance of the types of targeted outbound emails we get.

abm

Now, technically this is an account-based email. It reflects a unique data-point on my company: The Business Insider article. It demonstrates the land and expand practise of branching off of a colleague of mine’s interest. But it still feelings cold, right? There are a few things wrong with this type of ABM email from a recipient experience standpoint.

First, even though my colleague had an interest — there’s no consideration as to whether I even know that colleague or a demonstrated understanding of how or if we work together.

Second, while I appreciate the mention of the recent article on us, it has nothing to do with the purpose of the email. It nearly feels as though it’s in there merely to prove that the sender took the time to Google us. Crummy experience for the recipient. Poor results for the sender. Nobody wins.

So, even though the email is personalized to my context — It still feels like cold outbound and odds are, I’m not going to bite.

My email inbox is littered with emails like these. So is my voicemail. What about yours?

The good news: ABM doesnat have to look like this. Thereas a better route. One thatas warmer, more human, and a whole lot more buyer-friendly.

How to do ABM the Right Way

What does ABM done right look like? In this section, weall walk you through it, step by step.

Get specific about your target.

Who do you want to market and sell to? Imagine your ideal customer were to walk through the door. What would they look like? What would they sound like? What would they talk about? We call these ideal client profiles buyer personas.

A few important best practices to recollect when creating your buyer personas, as it relates to an account-based strategy 😛 TAGEND

If youare B2B, your personas should include insights about the personas company. What sizing is it? What role do they play? Who do they report to? Are they a decision-maker or an influencer? Whatas their budget and what other things are they expending it on? What industry are they in? Where are they located? What other tools do they use? While, in the end, itas the people that stimulate the buying decisions, their company dynamics play a big role in the purchase process.

Itas perfectly okay — and, often, necessary — to have more than one persona in the same company. At HubSpot, we sell both marketing and sales software, so itas vital that we understand the core characteristics and motives of both marketing and sales leaders. Sometimes, the same person plays both roles. More often than not, weare marketing to the two separately. To do so effectively, we need to understand not only the nuances of marketers and salespeople individually, but also the style they interact in the workplace.

Marketing and sales should be tightly aligned in the process of developing personas. Personas arenat an arts-and-crafts project undertaken by the marketing team on a rainy day. Theyare the glue that holds every function at your company together. If youare a marketer, take into consideration your sales team’s feedback on the types of accounts they’re interacting with most.

What generalizations can they make about the different types of clients you serve best? If youare a salesperson, what lessons are you able pass along to your marketing counterparts from the front line? Whatas driving dialogues forward? Marketings and marketing should be in lockstep throughout the inbound process; thatas especially important in the creation of personas.

A common question that often comes up around personas and ABM: if youare B2B, should you select one specific define of a few companies to target? The simple answer: in general , no. Even if your target “universe” of potential customers is small — big banks, universities, etc. — think about what your target persona has in common.

Letas say your primary decision-making persona is the VP of risk management at a big bank. Do the VPs of risk management at Wells Fargo and CitiBank have vastly differents decides of motives and priorities? Do they hang out on different social networks? Are they concerned about different changes in the market? Probably not.

The personas you generate should be very specific to your best customer fit, but broad enough to be applicable beyond a single person at a single company.

Create valuable content for those personas.

Next up: generating content. ABM and Inbound are in lockstep here. Once youave get clear on your target, itas all about creating content thatas personalized, relevant, helpful, and valuable for your potential buyers.

The bitter truth: todayas buyer doesnat am worried about your company. They donat care about how youave just launched the coolest widget since sliced bread. They donat want to book a 15 minute meeting with you, if theyave never heard of your company. They want things thatall attain them better at what they do, or teach them something they donat know, or fill in a blind spot in their day. Even better if it stimulates them look good to their colleagues and managers.

How do you ensure that youare creating content your target personas will actually want to engage with? By blending two key concepts: personas, which we covered above, and the buyeras journey. The buyeras journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The journey is a three-step process 😛 TAGEND Awareness Stage: At this phase, a buyer is trying to solve problems, get an answer, or meet a need. Theyare looking for top-level educational content to help direct them to a solution. At this point, a buyer is trying to solve problems, get an answer, or satisfy a require. Theyare looking for top-level educational content to help direct them to a solution. Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches alternatives to solve it. In HubSpotas case, our clients might realize they have a problem organizing and managing their marketings processes, and in the consideration stage, theyare considering the different strategies for addressing that: Excel, adopting a CRM, outsourcing marketings, etc. The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it. In HubSpotas case, our customers might realise they have a problem organizing and managing their marketings process, and in the consideration stage, theyare considering the different strategies for addressing that: Excel, adopting a CRM, outsourcing marketings, etc. Decision Stage: The buyer opts a solution. In HubSpotas case, our buyers have determined that theyall adopt a CRM in the consideration stage, and now itas time to compare HubSpot to the other CRMs, and to make a final decision. Dig into what you know about the company. Explore both demographics, the job titles and other traits of the person or persons in your database, and firmographics, the characteristics of their companies( sizing, industry, location, etc .). Match up the data youave collected on your leads and accounts with the personas you put together at the beginning of the process. Explore both demographics, the job titles and other traits of the in your database, and firmographics, the characteristics of their companies( sizing, industry, locating, etc .). Match up the data youave collected on your leadings and accounts with the personas you put together at the beginning of the process. Work closely with your marketings team. Theyave worked accounts before. Chances are that their intestine on what makes a good-fit account is spot-on. Theyave ran accounts before. Chances are that their gut on what makes a good-fit account is spot-on. Suppose in terms of revenue. Which of the accounts has the potential to bring the most business at the end of the day? Use account scoring to ascertain which accounts are actually engaged with your company, and how many contacts at each one have interacted with you. Hereas what that looks like in HubSpot:

Account Create content that helps one persona influence another. As two examples, at HubSpot, we created an offer called “1 00 Stats, Charts, and Graphs to get Inbound Marketing Buy-in.” Itas designed to help a marketing administrator attain the example for inbound to his or her management squad, and has helped our marketing and sales squads to bring the decision-makers into the conversation. As two examples, at HubSpot, we created an offer called “1 00 Stats, Charts, and Graphs to get Inbound Marketing Buy-in.” Itas designed to help a marketing administrator make the occurrence for inbound to his or her management squad, and has helped our marketing and sales teams to bring the decision-makers into the conversation. Stimulate your content easily sharable. Include sharing connects on your thank-you pages and in your follow-up emails, to help get more of the buying squad exposed to your content. Create drip email campaigns. Below is an simple instance. The workflow enrolls contacts within target accounts whose title includes “marketing, ” sends them a specific nurture email, then alerts their account rep if theyave opened the email.

Sample
Below is an simple instance. The workflow enrolls contacts within target accounts whose title includes “marketing, ” sends them a specific nurture email, then alerts their account rep if theyave opened the email. Website personalization. Adapt the content on your website to specific audiences based on both leading and company intelligence. For instance, prove a VP at one of your target accounts a specific call-to-action when they land on your pricing page next time around. Adapt the content on your website to specific audiences based on both lead and company intelligence. For instance, demonstrate a VP at one of your target accounts a specific call-to-action when they land on your pricing page next time around. Online ads. Ad platforms today are a whole lot more sophisticated than they were even five years ago. Show ads to your target buyers that align with their specific context — in merely the right places online. Use an ad platform that syncs with your CRM to show personalized, targeted ads to the members of your target accounts. Many of these platforms even automatically update your ads as new data is added to your CRM.

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