Your ABM Strategy Has To Be More Than Emails, LinkedIn Connects And Twitter PMs
Disney is the master of the experience. They figured out long ago that it all comes down to the experience they create for their guests. The result is people come from all over the world and pay big money to visit Disney properties. Disney excels at deploying little wows at strategic times during your visit.
When you arrive at the hotel, they offer you a drink. When you return to your room from the park and you’re ready for a refreshing shower, a towel animal greets you. Feeling hot from the sun? Let the misters cool you off while you’re in line. Want to avoid standing in lines for attractions? Check out the FastPass+ service. I could go on and on. But what does this have to do with marketing or account-based marketing?
ABM is a major trend today. Every marketer is talking about it and it seems like at least 50% are working on it. But I haven’t seen any truly remarkable ABM strategies yet (except for those in our client programs, of course). Our secret is using creative little wows to help our clients stand out and to improve the connect and conversion rates.
Here’s how we do it.
You Need A Messaging And Story Strategy
This might sound harsh, but unless you have something interesting to say, it’s not going to matter how many emails you send, how big your list is, how clean your data is or how clever your nurture sequences are. What are you telling people to get them interested, to disrupt their status quo and to get them to engage with your team? The outcome you’re looking for here is not sending emails but rather getting people to engage and connect with you so you can help them.
What’s the story? How are you going to make them a hero? We’ve all received emails from people we don’t know. We all delete them. The current messaging approach for most account-based marketing is non-existent.
Coming up with engaging and compelling messaging is hard work. That’s probably why most people skip it, but it’s the difference between ABM success and failure.
The story must be disruptive. It should make your target prospects think they’re missing something, that they need to at least hear more and that they can be or do better with your help. Proving insight helps, whether it’s industry insight, functional insight or insight based on your experience. Insights help position you as a trusted advisor and guide as opposed to a salesperson.
By packaging insights with stories that make your targeted prospects feel something, you’re likely looking at a major lift in connect rates.
Make The Experience Multimedia With Video
We’ve already established people want to communicate with video and short-phrased captions. Hello Snapchat! Click on the image to see the format we’re recommending.
Consider leaning into that trend. There is a place for long-form written content, but I think video marketing helps make your ABM program more remarkable, much more interesting and dramatically more effective.
You can use video to share industry information from a noted analyst, to share client stories and to highlight trends with noted speakers providing the trend data. While I wouldn’t ditch all of your written content with video, I’d suggest a heavy mix.
Make sure the video is integrated with conversion strategy and solid deployment of landing pages, tracking mechanisms and a connected nurture strategy that is orchestrated with the continuing ABM approach. You don’t want to end up overdoing it with the touch points. Again, experience mapping would flag this in advance.
I’d also suggest using the video assets to help tell your story. Let video show your prospects what they might be missing. Let video show how your product or service is remarkable compared to the rest of the market, and make sure the video tells the story associated with business outcomes, not features and benefits. What is it going to do for your prospect and how it will make them the hero? This might sound corny, but it’s critical. Your prospects need to see themselves using your company.
Use 3D Mailings For An Omni-Channel Approach
Getting someone who’s not looking for you to engage is probably going to require an omni-channel approach. Email, social, video and web might not be enough. This is where messaging and stories help you to get even more creative. Stretch that right-brain muscle and start thinking like marketers, not mechanics.
Getting packages in the office is a perfect way to cut through the clutter of the inbox and make sure the message gets delivered. Postcards and letters almost always find their way into the trash, but a box would never get opened and never get thrown out without first being presented to the recipient.
For example, we once sent a small silver trashcan with a lid to a set of targeted software prospects. The message was simple: “Is your current implementation in the trash?” We knew our competitors were having trouble with implementation. The result was an extremely high contact rate and very high conversion rates, including closed sales for those that did engage with us.
I’ve seen people send remote control cars without the remote control (you need to connect and schedule an appointment to get the control device). I’ve seen people send one sneaker and hold the other back until the appointment.
Personal URLs Make The Experience Even Better
You’re going to be attempting to get your target prospects back to your website, so why not make that experience even better with personal URLs? PURLs have been used in the direct marketing industry for years and that technology is easy to convert for targeted ABM programs, too.
Now individuals visiting pages are greeted personally, with personal messages, content, pictures and stories. The experience demonstrates you know your targets, their challenges, their industry, their role and how to make them successful. It’s a perfect example of a little wow that go a long way to turning an unengaged target into an engaged sales opportunity.
Connect It To Your Advocacy Marketing
Finally, advocacy programs (getting your current customers involved in helping you drive new revenue) hold buried treasure when it comes to account-based marketing. How remarkable would it be for a targeted prospect to get a personal email from a current customer?
I'm Mark, VP of marketing at Company B. I heard you were in the process of talking to Company A. I know how you feel; we were in the same place you were last year. Since then, working with Company A has been a perfect fit for us. We’ve been able to grow X, improve Y and increase Z dramatically. I’d be willing to share more about how Company A helped us. Let me know if you’d like to chat about how I think they might be able to help you too.
How cool would it be for an email, from a customer, to show up in an ABM sequence? Wow! Integrating and orchestrating sequences like this takes a standard account-based marketing program and makes it an experiential account-based marketing program, and that means increased results.
While these techniques might be interesting, make sure you have the budget to support them. They will need additional investment to create, mail and maintain. But when you look at where this money is going — your best prospects and customers — it makes sense to make the investment. It certainly makes sense when you compare it other options. I heard a company was paying people $500 to take their demo. Interesting idea, but does that get you high-quality prospects or just people who want $500?
Work hard to keep your personas, their buyer journey and their questions in mind when you start creating these remarkable experiences. We use a methodology called “experience mapping” to create these experiences. It’s the same process Disney uses. We’ll work closely with our client to map out every single touch point, no matter how small or insignificant, along the sales process. This methodology allows us to identify and then upgrade each step, making sure it’s remarkable.
The impact on close rates, conversion rates and sale cycle length are dramatic. Close rates can be improved by 50%, conversion rates can double and sales cycles have been reduced by weeks in some circumstances.
Account-based marketing is about getting the attention of people who are not prepared to give it. It’s about disrupting their status quo, engaging them with your business and guiding them through a buying cycle. What better way to do this than by intimately understanding their experience with your company?
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