As a specialized marketing agency and consultancy for the industrial sector, we are always looking for new programs, processes, and tools to bring value to our clients. As a true marketing partner, we constantly search for tactics and strategies that align marketing and sales. The ability to develop creative assets that move the bottom line of business is truly what drives our team.
The construction, manufacturing, and resource-based sectors are complex, and the way brands sell in these sectors is even more unique. With high transaction values, long sales cycles, multiple stakeholders, and educated buyers, marketing within these industries requires a multi-platform process. One strategic framework we found that drives success within the industrial B2B sector is Account-Based Marketing (or ABM for short).
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-Based Marketing is an approach used by B2B marketers to identify, target, and activate the accounts that a business values the most: the prospective customers that drive real results for an organization. In the industrial sector, this involves marketing to the right customer at the right time, with the correct experience designed for them. Through ABM, we have a unique strategy that focuses on a company’s marketing resources to engage with and close a specific set of target accounts. Rather than marketing to an entire sector, we approach and target specific accounts that align with a business.
One of the most famous quotes on advertising is from John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on marketing is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Account-Based Marketing helps to address this issue by focusing all marketing and communication efforts on the target accounts that grow your business. The challenge within the industrial and construction sectors is that often the products and services a firm offers are tailored to match a unique and specific customer profile. The goal of marketing in this case is to align these target customers (who are already actively seeking specialized products and services) with the correct businesses that provide it.
Each industrial and construction company has a position in the marketplace that aligns with a specific client profile type where they can be the best fit. For example, if you are an Electrical Contractor that specializes exclusively in multi-family wood frame residential buildings, then building a marketing program to target and engage with General Contractors that specialize in this vertical becomes an effective way to maximize your marketing efforts and earn new business. Rather than marketing across an entire industry, you are able to speak directly to the ideal client profile that your business is already set up to work with. The result is more sales, higher profit margins, and a better partnership fit.
How Does Account-Based Marketing Work?
Account-Based Marketing is a strategy as much as it is a tactical execution. Committing to the ABM framework across your marketing and sales operation is the first step, followed by building out processes and implementing tactics. Creating alignment between your sales and marketing teams is critical to ensure success within the ABM framework, and is also one of the main advantages of the program.
To help explain the ABM methodology, we like to use the “TEAM” approach, which is a simplified and actionable process coined by Sangram Vajre and Eric Spett, that we’ve proven to help our partners implement their ABM program. The acronym TEAM stands for Target, Engage, Activate, and Measure. By driving all attention and focus within this framework, we’re able to help industry leaders optimize their marketing and sales efforts.
We start by targeting the right accounts that actually matter to your business. Instead of waiting for customers to reach out, and then qualifying them, we begin by identifying the accounts that you consider the best fit for your company and that drive the most results (similar to the 80/20 Rule). Businesses that are most likely to buy and partner with you, and that bring immediate value to your firm, need to be identified in this stage (think about the clients you want to win and know you can partner well with).
Within the Target phase, we run a process to identify the account list based on key criteria, historic data, Ideal Customer Profiles, and the FIRE evaluation. In this process, we define the firmographic, environmental, and behavioural attributes of the accounts that are expected to become your company’s most valuable customers. At the end of the Target phase, you have a list of accounts that we will invest your marketing attention and resources towards. Why? Because this list of accounts are the most important customers that will allow you to achieve the highest levels of growth. Once this list is finalized and approved by the organization, it becomes the focus of all your marketing activities and attention.
With your targeted accounts identified, we now need to get your message (creative story) in front of every decision-maker in the key target accounts. The industrial B2B buyer journey is complex, and the ability to engage with your customer creatively is key in closing new business. Activities in the Engagement stage include marketing tactics such as emails, events, social media, e-books, videos, articles, and advertising, to name a few. Remember: these are all personalized engagement touch points, created specifically for your Target Account list. Rather than a one-to-many approach, we target one-to-few or one-to-one accounts based on how you segment your audiences.
Keeping messages and engagement tailored to individual roles and needs will bring personalized value to each buyer. If you can communicate marketplace authority and expertise within your industry, you’ll create valuable engagement touch points with your ideal customer profiles.
Building from the Target and Engagement stages, we are now able to capture valuable touch points (and responses) from your most important accounts. Now we need to Activate your sales team to make personal touch points with your customers, based on the data collected. This stage focuses on the alignment between sales and marketing, which is the true measure of success for a successful ABM Program.
Within the Activate stage, we share valuable insights such as webinar attendance, social media engagement, email response, website activity, and video views. Taking accurate data to share with your sales team creates an environment for valuable conversations and new business pursuits. The Activation stage is about using the data to empower your sales team on who to reach out to, what to say, and when to move deals forward.
With Account-Based Marketing, we now have the ability to measure marketing effectiveness in the areas that matter most to your bottom line: sales, revenue, and closed deals. Within the industrial B2B sector, the focus is on new revenue to drive sustainable growth and long-term profitability.
When you follow the TEAM framework and target the right accounts from the beginning, you no longer need to simply measure the quantity of leads in your pipeline, because every account has already been pre-qualified. Instead, within the Measure stage, we shift the focus to tracking, monitoring, and measuring your pipeline activity, which includes closed revenue and ongoing client care for your key accounts. Your marketing and sales team meetings now focus on reviewing the movement and activity of your key accounts; where revenue is coming from, what opportunities are available, and how to continue to engage with your targeted accounts.
Why is Account-Based Marketing Important?
Within the industrial business-to-business market, every marketing dollar counts. Organizations in construction, manufacturing, and resource-based industries work hard to earn revenue, and take significant risks in delivering their complex products and services. This environment creates the accountability for marketing to drive a return on investment dollars, and make a direct impact to how revenue and sales are generated.
With Account-Based Marketing, the framework and strategy provides focus and attention to the critical accounts that can impact your growth, creating visibility on the marketing activities that support the pursuit of new business. Rather than exhaust your marketing efforts across an entire industry, ABM focuses on the key accounts that can drive results for your business.
Interested to learn more and get started? Feel free to reach out to our team at [email protected] to start your ABM journey today! From scheduling a strategy session to sharing how to build your account list, we have the experience to align your marketing activities to focus on the key areas that will bring the most value to your business.