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Your 6 step guide to launching an ABM program

By December 22, 2020January 29th, 2021No Comments

This post was co-authored by Lindsay Groth and Melanie Hilliard. 

Despite the 525,600 minutes ways account-based marketing (ABM) is described, we are going to distill this strategy down into 6 bite-sized pieces.

Fundamentally, ABM takes an outbound-first approach to deliver highly-targeted and personalized content to buyers and other personas at key target accounts.

ABM strategies are ideal for organizations selling high-value products with sales cycles longer than 3-6 months. If your business model depends on volume and transactional exchanges, the investment required to execute a successful ABM campaign may not be worth it. Companies that take an ABM approach are most likely to see increased sales velocity and higher value sales at their targeted accounts.

Here are the six essential elements to launch a successful ABM campaign:

  1. Establish an ABM taskforce with sales and marketing. Why? Because they share in the heavy-lift of moving a lead through the sales cycle. How? Well, marketing will handle the lead until it hits a certain agreed-upon point, such as a lead score or phase in the sales cycle. Then, the lead gets handed over to sales to bring across the finish line. This shared approach allows sales to come in when they can add the most value.
  2. Create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). If you have one, great, you can stop reading. If not, this is a crucial step in getting to target accounts. Gather the data from your CRM, Google Analytics, marketing automation solution, internal stakeholders, any tool or person who can give you insight into your customer’s common characteristics and attributes. You are looking for demographics, firmographics, behavioral factors (publications, association memberships), length of the sales cycle, ACV, etc.
  3. Pick target accounts. Based on the ICP, you should have profiled your buyer’s common characteristics to use in locating the accounts in your CRM. It is imperative when you identify target accounts they align with your ICP – not creating a wish list of accounts. So, how many accounts? It depends on the resources you have at your organization. But here is a guide for decision-making. You have probably heard about the tiers in different webinars or in blogs – 1:Many, 1:Few, and 1:1. You will likely fall within the first two tiers … 1:Many could be in the low thousands of accounts, whereas 1:Few could be in the hundreds.
  4. Identify the buying committee. In the B2B space, it is rare that only one person is involved in the decision to purchase. As a task force, discuss the titles of the buyer, user, influencer(s), blocker(s), and budget holder. If you are starting with ABM, it is not uncommon to only know the buyer and maybe one other member. But over time, as you deploy the strategy and learn who is engaging with your content, you should be able to fill out the rest of the committee pretty quickly.
  5. Fill out our personas cards. It is essential to fill out personas from the perspective of a “Day in the Life.” Getting at the essence of who these people are and into their psyche helps you develop content that speaks to their goals and motivations. At Clarity Quest, we build persona cards that take a deep-dive into your persona’s motivations, frustrations, and goals. To help you get to know them, we even name our personas, meet Dr. Pam “Patient Costs.”
    Healthcare Tech Company photo
  6. Build a content plan mapped to the buying journey. We keep it simple, following a 3 to 5 stage content mapping plan. Awareness, consideration, decision … delight, and upsell. Use your data to inform topics and identify the content and format with which the different buying committee members are engaging.

If you don’t have this type of data, here are our tips for developing content by buying stage.

Delight and upsell. Too often, we forget about building content for current clients and customers. Why? Well, because now they’re customers, and we need to keep filling our funnel. One of the goals of ABM is ‘landing and expanding’; therefore, keeping retention and upselling on your radar is an important factor to build into your content strategy.

Learn more about Clarity Quest ABM services.


1 Rent, The Musical

Lindsay Groth

Author Lindsay Groth

Lindsay is a Senior Marketing Consultant at Clarity Quest. She spent 15 years as an in-house marketing leader before joining the agency world. To learn more about Lindsay, please visit our leadership page.

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