My recent conversation with small business owners revealed account-based marketing is gaining in popularity. One reason is due to its high potential for improving return on investment (ROI). Couple high ROI with the fact that new technology allows small business owners to conduct ABM at scale, and you’ll quickly realize how it can transform your small business.
But just because there is an increase in ABM adoption and investment doesn’t mean that business owners are applying it correctly or enjoying success.
Indeed, despite all the buzz around ABM, there are plenty of challenges and mistakes that can make its implementation a difficult task. But there’s one account-based marketing mistake you can’t afford to make.
Biggest Mistake: Not Identifying the Right Ideal Accounts
Nothing will derail your ABM strategy faster than not identifying the right ideal accounts to include in your programs. The first step in looking to grow your account-based marketing is to narrowly define your ideal customer. Understanding your ideal customer is critical if you want a return on investment (ROI). You need to understand their pain points, wants, and needs and be able to address those needs in your account-based marketing and sales efforts.
So, don’t squander your marketing budget and hundreds of hours generating leads that take your program nowhere. Find your ideal accounts from the outset, and everyone wins.
How to Identify the Right Accounts
- Segment your customer base. Begin by segmenting your customer base between normal accounts and your most successful accounts. Think about whom your 10 best customers are and what you need to do to attract 10 more just like them! Your best customers or most successful accounts have the following two key characteristics: they are profitable and also refer business to you.
- Interview 10 of your best customers. Now take your 10 best customers, email or phone them asking for feedback on their experience with your organization, service or product. During this phase, you need to be “Oprah-like” and ask open ended questions. Some of the things you’re after is the PLACES your customers give their attention (eyes and ears) too, the LANGUAGE your customers use when describing why they buy from you, the WORDS and PHRASES your customers use when explaining what they value about what you do, and the DESCRIPTION of the perfect buying experience. You can’t get that by asking them to rate things from 1 to 10.
- Start building your ideal customer profile. With information on what your best customers look like and their characteristics, develop a detailed profile of your ideal customer. Then, show up in the right places (social media channels, networking events, publications, search engine, mobile) at the right time (when ideal customers are looking to solve a problem or research a solution). You may be featured in fewer publications and meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.
- Demographics – Business2Business (B2B) demographics could be the type of industry, the job title of that individual, the years that a company has been in business, and/or revenue levels. Business2Consumer (B2C) the demographics could be age, sex, illness, income, and a particular area of town.
- Psychographics – Understand where do they hang out, what do they read, what do they listen to, what do they search online, what makes them tick, what triggers them to go looking for a solution? It’s also useful to identify any triggers caused by some type of life cycle change, calendar event, budget refresh, office relocation, etc. (Hint: focusing on identifying what these triggers are with your current customers is the best way to immediately grow brand awareness.)
- Challenges or Problem – Marketing is about solving customer problems, whether those are problems customers are currently facing, or problems they will face as their marketplace evolves and their needs change.
- Real Quotes – Include a few real quotes taken during your interviews that represent your ideal customer well. This will make it easier for employees, vendors, referral sources, suppliers, and strategic partners to relate and understand your best customers.