To grow a business, you don’t need to attract every single customer. You just need to attract the right customers. It’s something we’ve been helping our clients do for years, whether retailer, supplier, or manufacturer. In order to do this, you need a strategic growth plan, which involves reflecting on your business’s strengths, weaknesses, and values. When you know yourself, you get a better idea of the types of customers you can best serve. Account-based marketing (ABM) is a powerful tool for attracting, retaining, and serving the right customers.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
You may think that the recent emphasis on customized experiences is just a B2C phenomenon. In a retail setting swamped by choice, customers seek out customizable, personalized experiences with businesses that share their values, that speak their language. It’s not just the retail consumer looking to connect with a business it can vibe with. The same turn toward personalization is happening in the B2B sector. In this environment, it is more important than ever to focus on the right kind of client, to go into every marketing campaign with a clear sense of who you are and what you have to offer.
ABM is a sales method that, as part of your manufacturing sales strategy, will help you get focused and stay focused on selling to the right clients. At its core are just good marketing principles: creating targeted, persuasive messages for specific customers. In practice, it’s a method for aligning the work of marketing, sales, operations, and customer service into a unified team focused on generating revenue.
Marketing Is not Just for Retailers
In the B2B world, opportunities for growth can be limited by the small number of potential customers in your industry and long sales cycles. This is especially true for sales growth in the manufacturing sector. ABM can overcome these limitations by focusing on providing personalized service to a smaller number of high-value accounts.
Marketing and messaging can often seem too squishy and imprecise for B2B organizations, whose customers are driven more by research, data, and experience than by the kinds of emotional appeals that might sway the everyday consumer. The extent of many B2B organization’s marketing efforts is having salespeople get on the phone with suppliers or get in the car to talk with potential buyers in person.
If you want to grow, however, you’ve got to not only be proactive but focused and intentional, crafting the right message for the right customer. You craft that message by gathering data and building from what you know works. ABM is a data-driven, results-based approach that allows you to track sales activity and marketing effectiveness the same way you manage and track production activity.
Tailored Marketing Campaigns for High-Value Accounts
ABM is a strategy best suited to sectors where annual account value is high and number of sales opportunities is low. An ABM approach is about crafting clear, targeted messages for a targeted group of high-value customers. Contrast this with the traditional approach to marketing, in which you attempt to appeal to the broad universe of clients for whom you might be a “good” fit. The most likely result of that approach is time wasted chasing leads that amount to nothing. You will avoid wasted effort and convert more leads if you zero in on the clients for whom you are the “perfect” fit. ABM lets you target them in a way that shows them that you have taken the time to understand them and what they need.
Demonstrating to B2B decision makers that you understand and can deliver exactly what they need is crucial in manufacturing. Whether it's through webinars, blog posts, newsletters, ebooks, social media, sales emails, or paid ads, ABM ensures that you’re pushing the right content through the right channels for every stage of the customer journey.
Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams for a Cohesive ABM Strategy
The key to a successful ABM strategy is teamwork. Management, marketing, and sales can’t remain in their own boxes, passing customers back and forth to each other with no clear purpose or collaboration. All departments must bring together their expertise to:
- Create an accurate ideal customer profile
- Distill the essence and capabilities of the organization into a clear and targeted message
- Identify suitable clients
- Gather data on the best way to reach those clients
- Identify tools and information that will help educate the prospects at each stage of their buying journey
- Put the ABM plan into action
These bullet points do not denote a linear process but just some of the actions an organization will take while constructing and implementing an ABM strategy. Take for example a make-to-order manufacturing company experiencing a period of low demand. Their approach to seeking out new customers, which includes a PPC advertising campaign, a broad direct mail marketing campaign, and cold calling prospects, isn’t producing results.
With the help of StrategyWerx, the company shifted to an ABM approach as part of a sales organization upgrade. We helped them develop an ideal customer profile, conduct research on potential customers, and draw up a manufacturing sales growth strategy based on addressing those organizations’ business needs and pain points. To raise their profile among these potential customers, they offered a series of webinars which they marketed through data-backed targeted ads and supplemented with blog posts. They also promoted the webinar through a press release to industry publications. The result? They amassed a new list of warm leads from the webinar’s attendees.
While this webinar reached fewer organizations overall than their earlier scattergun efforts, the company realized a much better return on investment using this ABM approach. They effectively bypassed all the unqualified leads and went straight for the ones they know their business can best serve. Furthermore, they came out of the campaign with a much clearer understanding of their own goals and capabilities, stronger relationships with their customers, and new CRM infrastructure to manage accounts and integrate sales, marketing, and operations teams.
ABM Made Easy
On the surface, this might not look much different from a traditional marketing campaign. But the difference is the planning and the intention behind it. ABM is best used as part of a broader strategic framework, with marketing, sales, and operations all working from the same playbook. As ABM targets only the most qualified leads with personalized messaging, the revenue team must collect and analyze reliable data. The good news is that none of this is as daunting as it seems. We’re here to help you get started with the methods and technology that will unleash growth.
Are You Ready to Do Better Growth Management?
StrategyWerx is all about growth strategy and management. That means giving you the tools you need to develop sound strategies, structure your organization to lay the track ahead of the train, and implement the tools you need to grow. Ready to learn more about how we do that? Book a free consult and bring your questions. See if you like working with us on our dime, and get some good advice in the process.