Why Account-Based Marketing is Imperative for Small to Mid-Sized Firms
When most professionals think of account-based marketing, they think of large organizations targeting a few key prospects backed by in-depth research. What most don’t realize is that due to limited time and resources, account-based marketing can benefit small and mid-sized firms even more.
Think about your current sales and marketing plan. Are you trying to be everything to everyone? Are you a mile wide in different segments, but only an inch deep? Is your target audience so varied that you are virtually trying to sell your services to anyone and everyone? Unfortunately, this approach to marketing just isn’t sustainable for any firm, much less a small or mid-sized firm.
When “anyone and everyone” is your target market, no one is your target. While it may seem that broadening your market segment is beneficial in these uncertain economic times, you are sacrificing a valuable asset – market expertise. Without market expertise, you are no longer competing on experience; instead, you compete on the lowest common denominator – price. Competing solely on price dilutes earning potential. Once your services are discounted, they are discounted for the long term. Think about it – would you rather be hired because you are an expert in your field, and charge a premium for your services, or would you rather be hired because you are the cheapest firm around, or just happen to be the firm with excess capacity?
Initiating Account-Based Marketing
The first step is to clearly define your target market. Begin by analyzing your existing client base. Are you an accountant who does particularly well with restaurants, retail or health care? Then start your specialty there.
Once you have selected your target market, give serious consideration as to whether or not you have the expertise to serve it. If not, develop a plan to add additional resources to your team with experience in that specific market segment or enroll team members in continuing education classes to deepen their expertise.
After you’ve defined your target market and are armed with the necessary industry or segment experience, the next step is to build a target list. A word of caution regarding lists – don’t go overboard. I see so many small to mid-sized firms with target lists numbering more than 1,000 companies when, in reality, they only need a handful of clients to meet their goals. Think about the number of new net clients you really need and narrow your list down to the most desirable prospects in that segment – the ones that would make great clients AND where you can add value. As a result, the final list of prospects will be much smaller and more manageable. A smaller list allows greater depth of research and a more personalized approach.
The next step is to create account teams. Account teams should be cross-functional and led by an assigned Account Manager. The purpose of account-based marketing and hence, the account team, is to sell the entire firm, not just a narrowly defined service. Account-based marketing is about personalizing the approach to add the greatest value based on the client’s needs. In short, account-based marketing is all about the prospect. Now, this approach does require teams to wear multiple hats, but when implemented properly, the return is significantly greater than a broad-based approach.
Know your list! Not just the company, but the buyers and influencers at each target. What are their interests? Which boards do they sit on? Identify personal relationships. Understand what’s happening in their market segment. Which of their competitors are growing? Where are the opportunities in that market segment? When you obtain a deeper understanding of the targets, it’s much easier to create personalized marketing campaigns. On an individual basis, knowing if they are golfers or whether they cheer for the Aggies or the Longhorns builds rapport. Send customized email blasts with unique landing pages. Remember to leave out the noise. Only market the services based on the needs of that particular firm. Build rapport by demonstrating interest in their success (not yours) and allow the relationship to develop naturally.
If you are unsure of how to make account-based marketing work in your firm, give us a call at 713.520.5532. We can help you develop and implement an account-based marketing effort that achieves results.
Posted on Mon, August 1, 2016
by Christine Hollinden