• ABM marketers must understand the challenges and needs of the key individuals within an account
  • They must consider what tactics to use to meet these challenges
  • What is the goal with the account? Are we looking to retain it? Acquire it? Grow it?

Early in my career, I was participating in a role-playing exercise, and I was asked by the leader of the session whether I would recommend living in the town that I lived in to him.

FairfieldWithout hesitation, I jumped in to wax poetic about how Fairfield, CT, was one of the greatest towns in America. I described the culture of the town, talking about the terrific local restaurants, beaches and boutique shops. About 30 seconds in, the leader interrupted: “Matt, I hate shopping, I don’t swim and don’t like the beach.  Why would I want to live there?” The record scratched, and a moment of awkward silence ensued. Lesson learned! (As an aside, I wasn’t far off in my assessment, as many years later, Money Magazine rated Fairfield the ninth-best place to live in America due to some of the aforementioned amenities.)

Had I taken a moment to better assess my questioner’s needs, I would have learned that he had young, school-aged children, loved golfing and enjoyed dining at local restaurants with his family. Instead, my messaging was way off – it included things that I knew and cared a lot about, but only one of those selling points mattered to him, and I presented two that actually pushed him away. Had I taken advantage of the fact that the person I was selling to gave me an opening to engage, I would have been better prepared to have a personalized, meaningful dialogue.  My “sell” would have included a discussion around the exceptional public schools and highly regarded municipal golf courses (along with the local restaurants), for example.

Fifteen years later, that lesson serves me well. I’m frequently asked by clients, “What tactics work with account-based marketing? Should we do events, webinars, white papers, etc.? What is the single most important thing to communicate to the accounts?” The answer to these questions is easy: It depends. Marketers need to take a step back, gather some data and ask these questions:

  • What is our goal with the account? Are we looking to retain it? Acquire it? Grow it?
  • What are the account’s strategic goals or imperatives?
  • How will our solution(s) support their strategic goals?
  • Do the contacts within that account have specific needs and challenges that we understand?
  • What do they know already about us? About our solutions?
  • Where are they in their journey?
  • What are they most interested in?
  • How have they consumed information already?
  • What tactics have had good results with this individual (or others who are like this individual)?
  • If we have no current experience, what are a few different ways we can A/B test to see what works better?

By asking questions like these, ABM marketers are better positioned to understand the challenges and needs of the key individuals within the account, where they are in their buyer’s journey or customer lifecycle, and the messaging and tactics that will deliver a more personalized experience. That’s the difference between general messaging/tactics and account-specific messaging and tactics.