While account-based marketing (ABM) may certainly have its roots in sales alignment strategies, if your B2B tech company is all in on ABM in 2019, this approach needs to proliferate your entire marketing and communications department. ABM is not simply a sales or advertising tactic, or rather it should not be. Sure, most common ABM approaches do employ these channels, with social ads, display ads, email marketing, marketing automation and direct outreach – sometimes exclusively. However, limiting your ABM plan to these tactics ignores critical communications channels and the value of third-party credibility.
Your target accounts should shape your whole 2019 marketing and communications strategy.
Here’s a look at how to implement an ABM mindset throughout five components of PR and marketing that are often overlooked in target account planning.
1. It all starts with messaging and content.
A strong understanding of audience + strong positioning are the only ways to succeed at ABM. Ultimately, content is the core of ABM. It’s how you will reach, engage and nurture key audiences, and therefore it must be personalized and customized to your target accounts. For example, if your marketing content calendar includes a blog on the role of AI in patient engagement, include a few of your target accounts by name, listing specific advancements they’ve made or how they can benefit.
2. Media outreach boosts ABM with third-party credibility.
Think there’s no need to loop your PR agency in on your ABM strategy? Think again. Media coverage is key to ABM success – providing third-party credibility that sales and marketing can’t deliver. But to be effective, ABM-driven PR needs to be filtered through a different lens than traditional media relations. Earned coverage goals should center around the publications that your target accounts find most valuable – those that they are mentioned in frequently and those that key executives quote and/or follow on social media. Those won’t always be the ones with the largest reach or biggest name recognition, but they will hold a lot of weight with your audience. For example, if your product optimizes the supply chain, your target buyers are reading Industry Today, not TechCrunch.
3. Don’t just focus on your brand channels. Executives and thought leaders should support ABM, as well.
Just like media relations’ role in ABM, similar logic applies to executive visibility and thought leadership. Executives give a voice to your messages and can relate to your target decision makers in a personalized way. Strive to gain speaking engagements at the shows and events that your targets attend, win the awards that your key accounts trust and have executives engage in the same groups and networks. Your brand shouldn’t be the only voice speaking the same language as your targets, your executives should too. This may seem like a no-brainer, but all too often, thought leadership and executive visibility strategies are siloed off from ABM.
4. Give your all on social media.
Social is where ABM gets really impactful, since you can be SO targeted, personal and conversational! While social ads are often part of ABM plans, the organic side of social media should be a key part of your strategy as well. Start by auditing the profiles of target brands and key decision makers, and use these insights to drive your plan. Use the same hashtags, engage the same influencers, and even reach out to prospects directly. (But remember – don’t be salesy! Use social channels as an opportunity to drive conversations, not close a deal.)
5. Don’t forget employee communication.
Yes, that’s right, even internal comms should focus on your target accounts. Internal communications should be permeated with messages on prominent target account wins and the challenges your brand helps these accounts address – using the language that resonates best with your personas. In this way, you’ll be educating team members on how to talk about your brand in a manner that will truly reach prospects and reinforcing the types of clients that are best-suited for your business. After all, employees are your best referral source. That means constantly reinforcing the messages that are key to your ABM strategy with these ambassadors.
In today’s cluttered marketing marketplace, it takes an integrated approach to ABM to truly reach target accounts. Email marketing, targeted ads and sales outreach – the typical tactics in an ABM playbook – are not enough to engage prospects. When it takes six to eight touch-points just to generate a viable sales lead, relying on advertising and sales outreach alone is not enough to cut through.
Want to learn more about how ARPR applies account-based marketing to our PR strategies? Check out some of our ABM success stories.