Account-Based Marketing Framework
In my previous post 'How Account-Based Marketing is Changing the Face of B2B', I highlighted how Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, is becoming the standard practice for companies and brands when targeting business customers as they micro focus on individual accounts and the stakeholders within them. However, how do you do this? How do you create a plan that enables you to effectively direct your resources towards a specific account list to reduce resource wastage and drive higher conversion? As you embark on any ABM initiative, it's important to have a framework in place up-front. This should provide the basis for your ABM planning and operations; a blueprint for building your ABM infrastructure and activities to ensure that they're directed towards your goals and aligned across your business. To this end, I've devised the following "Account-Based Marketing Framework" as a template to help you structure your thinking and plans, and direct your activities so you can build an effective Account-Based Marketing programme.
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The framework comprises of three phases:
The initial 'Profile' phase covers the all-important investigation and outlining of the accounts that you intend to target. Many companies who embark on an ABM strategy look to get it off-the-ground quickly by pulling together a target list based on their largest existing accounts, or merely by asking Sales who they want to target. Whilst these methods can produce some fast results, invariably they will limit longer-term success. ABM shouldn't be approached as a "quick-win"; as with any effective strategy, it requires due-diligence and consideration.
The Profile phase breaks down into three sections: Ideal Customer Profile, Buying Committee, and Buying Process. By understanding these three aspects you'll be able to build a target list of accounts that's more focused, honed and robust.
Ideal Customer Profile
What do your highest value prospects and target customers look like - existing and potential?Are you looking to acquire new accounts, or develop existing ones?What's their profile, i.e. how do you describe them using firmographic, geographic, technographic, and behavioural data? Note: consider your existing data here; what information do you have in internal systems or databases such as your CRM or email automation tool? How accurate and reliable is this information? Do you need to cleanse it, or even buy-in data from an external source? What qualifies accounts in, and conversely out of, your target group? Be specific on the types of accounts that you're NOT looking for.
Who are the individuals within your Ideal Customer involved in, or having influence over purchasing decisions? What are their roles and areas of responsibility within the organization? How much influence or decision-making power do they have? Are they budget holders? What can they sign-off?What are their motivators and drivers; personally and professionally?
What does the buying process look like within your Ideal Customer? What are the stages involved? Usually how long does each stage take? Who (from the Buying Committee) takes part in each stage?
The second phase for the Account-Based Marketing Framework is to create a 'Plan' on the back of your target accounts profile. Before you can tailor your message and approach to specific accounts and individual contacts within them, you need to establish your over-arching goals and value proposition for these accounts. These will form the foundation for your subsequent tactics and activities in Phase 3.
The Plan phase therefore consists of three sections: Goals, Value Proposition, and Measurement / Performance Indicators.
What are the goals that you're looking to accomplish with these accounts? Try to look beyond simply generating opportunities, leads, or more revenue; what are the underlying drivers that will achieve these? Do you need to create a perceptional change? Do you need to broaden and / or deepen the number of advocates? Do you need to increase the number of buying hooks?
What value are you delivering for these accounts? How are you solving their problems? What's your solution (in language that they'd understand!). Why is this better than what they're doing at the moment? What needs are you fulfilling? Why are you better at delivering these than others? How are you remarkable?
Measurement / Performance Indicators
How will you judge success with these accounts? How will you measure and asses that you're making progress toward your goals? Over what timeframes?
The final phase is to 'Perform' against your plan. By this, I'm referring to how are you actually going to communicate and engage with the accounts? What are the specific tactics and activities that you're going to apply?
This phase again breaks into three sections: Sales & Marketing Interlock, Account Engagement / Channels, and Programs & Content.
ABM is all about ensuring that Marketing and Sales teams are in sync so that they're working in unison to target accounts that are the most likely to convert and drive the most revenue. As such, the interlock between these teams is a crucial focus when it comes to how you're going to perform ABM in your business.
Sales & Marketing Interlock
What are the structures, processes, and behaviours that you must adopt to deliver the optimal customer experience for your target accounts? How will the Sales and Marketing teams interface? How will account information, insights, and learnings be shared between teams and team members Who will be engaging with accounts, and when?
Account Engagement / Channels
Which communications and engagement channels will you use, on and offline, to connect with these accounts? Where do the stakeholders within the accounts go to find information on your space? Where do they go to find out about and research the products and services that they're looking to buy? Who do they talk to for advice and insights? Which websites do they visit?
Programs & Content
What's the playbook of content and activities? How will you tailor these to each account? How will you tailor to each individual contact? What tools and platforms are you going to use to target contacts on a one-to-one basis? How will you tailor your messages and content accordingly?What specific content will you create and use? What forms will this take? How will you re-purpose? How will you re-target individuals with consequent messaging, content, or offers?
The Account-Based Marketing Framework is a document that should be worked on collaboratively between teams. It is intended to act as an internal guide to provide focus, refinement, and alignment as you prepare and implement your ABM strategy. It's not a one-size-fits-all and should be tailored according to your needs. Feel free to break it apart and re-build it as you feel fit.