Marketing Minute: Are You Targeting the Actual Decision Maker?

From Our Sponsor: Account-based marketing is about getting the attention of a specific person: the decision-maker. Think about it as moving from a fishing net, where you catch whatever comes in, to a fishing pole with very specific bait, targeting only certain fish.

By Steve Krull

You probably know that inbound marketing is about getting the attention of as many leads as possible using content creation and promotion. But do you know what account-based marketing is? It’s about getting the attention of a specific person: the decision-maker. It means taking the next step with your personas and diving deeper to learn more about specific prospects.

Think about account-based marketing as moving from a fishing net, where you catch whatever comes in, to a fishing pole with very specific bait, targeting only certain fish. Certainly, if you want all the fish you can get, without distinction, use a net. But if you have specific tastes or needs, you’ll want to use the pole. It’s more work for sure, but just as with fishing, there are plenty of tips and tricks.

The reason account-based marketing is effective is because it isn’t just about identifying the industries or verticals that you want to serve. It is about finding the companies you want to serve, and then going deeper.

It’s finding the job titles of the decision makers. Even finding the names of the people behind those job titles.

Personal and specific marketing

Account-based marketing means building your list in such a way that it gives you specific targeting data so that you can begin a conversation with your ideal customers. Now when we say ideal customers, we’re not talking about, ‘Oh, we’d like to work with mid-sized B2B manufacturers in the construction sector. We’re talking about, We want to work with X company, in Y industry, and speak to Z title/person’. It’s that specific.

The first step is to create content that answers that person’s very specific needs and challenges. Think about what they’re dealing with day-to-day. Ask yourself: What would help them? What research are they doing? What information might we provide to help in the decision?

It’s this personalized messaging and content that is the key, and it’s where you’ll find your success. Not convinced? Here’s some stats to show you what I mean:

  • Ninety percent of consumers in the U.S. find marketing personalization very or somewhat appealing, according to Statista.
  • Seventy-two percent of consumers will only engage with personalized messaging, according to SmarterHQ.
  • And sixty-six percent of customers say finding content that isn’t personalized would stop them from making a purchase, according to Adobe.

Moving from traditional to digital 

Thanks in part to Covid, account-based marketing has evolved in the last couple of years. Traditional account-based marketing delivered personalized content or small gifts in the mail (yes, the real mail, snail mail). This had the goal of making you known to your specified leads. Once a package was delivered, a more traditional inbound workflow would follow. 

What’s changed in the Covid-induced work-from-home environment is we’re now more reluctant to give up our home addresses to someone we don’t know. If an unsolicited package arrives on our doorstep, we may get a case of the creeps. On the flip side, packages will pile up at the office if you send it there, or because many offices have closed permanently, your content will get lost in a deluge of undeliverable mail.

My advice is to think twice before you run a full-blown account-based marketing campaign right now. Instead, think about focusing on the digital aspects. With the advances in technology, specifically LinkedIn, you have options. You can achieve the same results by thinking about your customers the way you would in any account-based marketing campaign.

Planning your modified campaign

There are a few aspects to the modified approach that you’ll need to consider: people, assets, outreach and ads. 

Identifying People 

This is actually pretty simple and you can even find most of the details you need on LinkedIn. In fact LinkedIn is essentially a self-contained account-based marketing platform if you learn how to use it properly. If you want to augment this data set, say with email addresses, think about a tool like ZoomInfo.

If you’re worried about where to start, or maybe you don’t have completed personas, you can begin with your existing customers. Think about which of them are your best customers, which would you like to replicate, and then ask, What are the industries/verticals, location, job titles, etc. of this group. If you’d like a cheat sheet, please reach out to me directly, I’d be happy to share. 

Once you’ve identified the people you want to target, you need to take the time to ask the questions that will inform your content. An important note: don’t make these questions about you. Make it about them. What problems are they trying to solve? What changes are forthcoming in their business or industry? What keeps them up at night?

Creating Assets

After that you need to consider assets. I specifically chose assets instead of content because you’re likely going to need landing pages and creative assets to support your workflows and funnels. Make sense? 

Across your assets, the key is to personalize as much as you can. Realistically, you won’t be able to personalize all of it. Find the places that you can and will personalize (using what you know about your target) and a plan.

One of the keys is to make any asset, especially content, as specific to the individual as you can. The silver lining is that you should learn some things along the way. The hard part is that this might mean writing or creating multiple versions of your content to fit in the personalized information.

If you have it, use as much data as you can to show your leads exactly why they are a good fit and the outcomes they can expect by partnering with you against everybody else.

Reaching Out

Are you wondering what outreach implies? It’s the idea that we’re going to marry the list of people we wish to target with real human outreach. Wait, before you jump to email, stop. In this age of interruption marketing, none of us needs more unsolicited email. Am I right?

Using your list of targets, work alongside your sales team (or a great digital marketing organization like Be Found Online) to draft messaging and a plan to leverage LinkedIn. Count on humans to do the thinking. And if you’re using tech, don’t let it replace the human element. What I mean is, don’t let software do all the work. Read the feedback you get, Use it in the follow-up conversation. Be human. 

Release the Ads

Finally, advertising! If you think of people and assets as planning for the battle, consider outreach to be your land forces and advertising to be your air cover. 

Advertising serves two purposes in this modified model. First, it generates branding and awareness to support your outreach campaign. Next, it generates leads that find their way back into your outreach list. I’m not going to lie—there are some list size challenges and connection request restrictions in LinkedIn. That’s why I suggest that unless you know the game, you should work with a partner to do this the right way. Then again, if your scale is small, say fewer than 300 contacts, you’re probably not going to break any rules. 

I realize that your ads won’t be very personalized and that’s ok. They are the “Hey, where did I see that before” part of this effort. The outreach and other assets are where your prospect feels the power of your hard work. 

Think of It as a Turbo Boost

While the setup costs are higher with account-based marketing and these campaigns definitely take more time to research and execute, the pay off can far exceed your current inbound marketing campaigns, especially if you’re selling higher ticket items. Think of it as a turbo boost for your Inbound efforts.

With more B2B buyers wanting their specific concerns and challenges met, I feel—and I hope you’ll agree—that a modified account-based marketing campaign is an ideal way to seal the deal. 

All you have to do is invest some time and effort.

Steve Krull is CEO of Be Found Online. If you have any questions or need assistance, reach out on Twitter (@SteveKrull) or on LinkedIn.

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