Alex Aztberger, CEO of Epicenter, noted in a recent interview with Forbes that, during a crisis or period of uncertainty, “the marketing mix has to shift, your website has to work harder, your emails will have to work harder, webinars will have to work harder, all these digital channels will need to deliver much more.” However, he provided further insight. As a marketer, think about personalizing content during this time based what’s relevant and helpful right now. And it’s that kind of personalized treatment that’s the main focus of account-based marketing (ABM).
The Terminus blog describes ABM as “a focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams work together to target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers.” With ABM, you treat every account as a “market of one” and target key decision makers at that account with personalized messaging. In so doing, B2B marketers get to know these accounts extremely well and build strong business relationships with them. This firm knowledge of customer accounts and the relationships marketers build with them makes ABM a great marketing approach during times of disruption and uncertainty.
There are five reasons why:
1- Customer account knowledge and empathy go hand in hand
During crises, show how you can help customers. This means thinking about when and what a customer might need a hand with and what the appropriate tone, cadence, and frequency of communications should be. Exercise understanding, patience, and sensitivity to what is going on in their world and then properly communicate with them. The first step in an ABM strategy involves account selection, wherein you employ look-a-like models to identify which accounts to target as key accounts. This process deepens and enriches your knowledge of an account, which allows you to better understand and empathize with that account and it will start you down the path to consider what you can do to help the account.
2- ABM tightens and focuses messaging
Given that it only targets key accounts, ABM messaging tends to be more narrow than typical B2B marketing, which casts a much wider net to engage more prospects and customers. ABM lets you narrow and focus your messaging even further during a crisis. You can communicate only what’s important to a customer account at a specific point in time. By doing so, you can better engage and interest them.
3- Marketing and sales unite
For ABM to work, marketing and sales must align through the sharing of customer information and connect by using consistent messaging. It becomes even more critical during a crisis for marketing and sales to be on the same page. Both teams can work together to show how your brand can help—rather than focus on capturing leads and making conversions. Both teams need visibility into the what the other is sending out so as to not send duplicates and potentially overwhelm customers.
4- Customer relationships grow stronger
During periods of uncertainty, both teams have the time to focus on strengthening the relationships rather than conversions, upsells, or cross-sells. As Emarkable pointed out, even during a crisis, marketers can still use an ABM strategy to improve relationships with customer accounts by highlighting how their brand can still be of service. Any relationship depends upon the two sides being there for each other, and you, as a marketer, should strive to show how your brand can provide support. It could be knowing the number of visits to a specific set of web pages, notifying them a product update is coming, or showing what resources are online that can help the customer. You and sales can use your knowledge of the customer to guide the next outreach and show that you care and want to help.
5- The situation informs the content that marketers create
ABM emphasizes personalization. Marketers engage each key account differently, speaking to specific needs as much as possible. During a crisis, content marketing can’t act as if it is still business as usual. It must address what is going on and what different industries and sectors are experiencing where appropriate. The right tone and the right amount of sensitivity are also important. But content must still be relevant and provide value. Therefore, take a different approach in terms of content and asset type, as each account will have different concerns. Look to strike a consistent, positive, and helpful tone as well. Keep in mind the different concerns of different contacts and work to personalize assets at that level as well. For instance, a C-suite contact may have broader organizational concerns while departmental leaders may have more tactical concerns. Tailor content to cover every possible facet.
ABM puts customers first by building relationships and understanding customers and how to engage them during a difficult time.
For more information about ABM, read "Don't Give in to Account-Based Confusion."