In the B2B space, lengthy sales cycles and multiple stakeholders can turn a client into a market unto themselves. There are different personas, touch points, and demands across the entirety of a large customer account.
It’s impossible for sales leaders to build relationships with dozens, sometimes hundreds of stakeholders within a customer account. And yet many of those individuals can have a positive (or negative) impact on the account’s health and its prospects.
To keep everyone in sync and informed, you need account-based marketing.
Key Tactics for a Successful Account-Based Marketing Program
By building a customized marketing plan that communicates the value derived from the current engagement as well as new opportunities that are beginning to take shape, all stakeholders become better aligned with your services and can take greater ownership of the outcomes because of their big-picture understanding. Christa Anz, diversified marketing leader from DXC Technology, defines account-based marketing this way: “a customized plan and approach to a certain account as sales needs it to grow.”
A few key places to start:
Create a development road map.
Every client relationship is a journey. Where the journey takes you is based on the current and future value provided by you, the solution provider.
In many industries today, that journey is centered on digital transformation. Every large company is going through it, and it affects marketing, operations, sales, research — you name it. If you are a solution provider in that world, then you most likely have a development road map outlining the myriad interconnected opportunities that your client can take advantage of along their journey as they transform their digital infrastructure and business.
The journey is the story that aligns all of the stakeholders around a common destination while celebrating the milestones as they occur.
Build a segmentation strategy.
Different client stakeholders and departments have different roles, demands, interests, and even communication preferences. A segmentation strategy helps you craft tailored messages and experiences for these audiences that improve their understanding, experience, and overall satisfaction.
Ensure seamless integration between sales and marketing.
This is the most vital factor in successful account-based marketing, according to Anz.
“I meet with both our sales team and the accounts that I do marketing for at least once a week, if not daily,” she says. “I’m always aware of changes to the account and have information if the direction of a campaign might need to shift. I also attend all the calls for the accounts, so I’m up-to-date on account news and new opportunities we may be exploring.”
5 Proven Campaign Strategies to Up Your Game
1. Annual Value Reports (AVRs)
An AVR highlights the successes from the past year (or years) as well as how the partnership is positioned for success in the future. In addition to helpful statistics, it might include stories that highlight how the company has:
- Saved a customer money.
- Solved a problem.
- Helped a customer through an important transition, such as a merger.
“An AVR is that piece of content that brings together and spotlights those Herculean efforts of our customer and our team over the past year,” Anz says. “Often, we’re so busy — and our customers are so busy — that we forget to look back and see the effect that we’ve had. The AVR helps bring those pieces together into a unified message to our customers and to our staff.
“It’s not just about patting our own backs; it also means getting better. It helps raise the bar every year because you’re seeing the areas where you missed that should be a focal point for the next year. The AVR is successful because it isn’t just about reflecting on what the account has accomplished; it’s also about projection and where they have to go in the future.”
2. Strategic Reuse of Content
Good content is key, but that doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch to build your account-based marketing program’s content. Instead, it’s about efficiently reworking your existing content to match the account or audience that your program targets. For example, AVRs can be repackaged into emails for the sales team or posted electronically on a customer portal.
3. Customized Content and Microsites
To continue using Anz and her team as an example, DXC Technology creates microsites for customers to house information and custom news about the account. This microsite is available to anyone in the company: Anyone with the password to the site can see what DXC Technology is doing for that customer or when there has been an especially successful rollout of a new initiative. DXC Technology also posts a blog series with customized content, either about the industry or DXC Technology’s offerings that the customer may be interested in.
Customized content may also be created for a specific pursuit. “We’re trying to keep messages for a specific offering area in front of our target audience, whether it be the executive team, the IT team, or the whole company,” Anz says. “It’s about creating brand awareness and demand generation to increase our share of wallet.”
4. Email and Amplification Campaigns
Amplifying customer-specific content through targeted email or media can drive conversions and growth. So much research is done online, and digital content can help answer questions and sway a decision-maker further down the marketing funnel.
Delivering more relevant content to the right audience can drive more engagement, and a good source for ideas for this content is your company’s call center or your sales team. Identify issues that customers are raising or objections for not purchasing, and create content to address those objections. For example, if a client hears objections around the price of their products, create content about aid offered to consumers of this product.
5. On-site Events
DXC Technology has an Executive Briefing Center where all the executives from a customer company are brought to the DXC Technology headquarters to get a closer look at available opportunities and services through the partnership. DXC Technology’s Plano, Texas, office, for example, has an Innovation Floor that customers can walk through to get a glimpse of DXC Technology initiatives that may benefit customers like them in the future. These are also opportunities for executives to get feedback from customers and discuss future opportunities to collaborate.
DXC Technology also holds Innovation Days, at which the company brings in thought leaders and experts in a particular field and creates an informative day tailored to a customer’s interests. It’s not about whether the information is related to DXC Technology specifically; the goal is to provide helpful, relevant thought leadership to customers.
Why It Works
According to 97 percent of marketers polled in a survey by the Alterra Group, account-based marketing had higher ROI than similar targeted marketing endeavors. This is likely no surprise to sales leaders. Large customers’ accounts are always easier to grow than to acquire.
Successful client relationships grow over time based on the value exchanged between the client and the solution provider. Good account-based marketing campaigns communicate that value and help align stakeholders around common goals to ensure that the value exchange continues to grow — and as a result, successful solution providers are implementing account-based marketing programs across their client base to maximize the success and future value of their business.