Once you’ve identified and secured your program goals, your next step in the SCALE framework is choosing strategic accounts. Because account-based marketing (ABM) is highly customized, and as such, more labor-intensive (hint: higher people/agency budget), you should be deliberately strategic when using it.
A framework that helps – S.C.A.L.E.
We developed the S.C.A.L.E. framework to help companies get a fundamental understanding of the strategic ABM process. S.C.A.L.E. stands for:
- Secure ABM program goals
- Choose strategic accounts
- Advance targeting tactics
- Lead a seamless campaign
- Evaluate progress, measure results
This blog post will focus on the C of Scale – Choosing strategic accounts. This is the second in a series of posts that will further explain our framework.
Programmatic ABM campaigns reach a larger list of targets because accounts are targeted at the company size (large-enterprise versus mid-market, for example). Expect lists in the few hundreds to low single-thousands if you’re emailing, and advertising size would be an audience of around 80-100k.
ABM Lite generates a narrower, more focused list than programmatic ABM because targeting starts at an industry level. Expects lists in the low hundreds if you’re emailing, and advertising size would be 20-80k.
Strategic ABM narrows the field even more by targeting the level of exact account(s) and/or specific job title(s). This could mean a list of as low as 10 and advertising could be incredibly focused. LinkedIn states, “The minimum audience size required to run an advertising campaign is 300 members.” – you’ll be around there, depending on what your goal is for the campaign. List the exact company and grow things out till you have the minimum number of members for the campaign. If it’s a single company then list the company, titles, and possibly levels.
Talk to Sales
Start by talking to sales. This team has the most immediate need of your services and will get the most benefit from a successful ABM program. Find the salesperson who is the friendliest to marketing and ask them to walk you through their life in sales. For example:
- How is your work assessed?
- What’s your quota?
- How long does it typically take you to close a deal?
- How long is the process on average?
- Who’s in the buying committee?
- What are the typical touch points?
- What’s needed to keep the process moving?
- What “No’s” do you see happening in the sales cycle?
- How can marketing best help you?
This will give you a broad list of accounts you should be aiming for. You can also search for look-alike companies.
Talk to Customer Success
Take the list you got from sales and filter that through your customer success team.
- Who are our highest and lowest value accounts?
- Which ones have grown the most?
- Who takes advantage of all we can offer?
- Which accounts don’t seem to “get it?”
- Which traits should rule out an account?
- Where do we already have an advantage?
This information will help you narrow your list. Sales will prioritize who is the easiest to close. Customer success understands which clients get the most value from your offered solutions. It’s the combination of the two that brings the highest customer lifetime value (CLV). Target the accounts that are identified by both groups.
Build your personas
You should plan approximately ten target personas per account. At the one-to-one level, you can use not only firmographic data like company size and revenue, but psychographic data: values, interests, personality traits, and preferred communication style. Research individuals in your target range for granular data and insights:
- What do they post on LinkedIn?
- Do they have an Instagram feed? What’s in it?
- Are they on Twitter?
- Overall, what is this individual truly interested in?
Applications like Crystal can give you a lot of insights on how to sell to specific people based on their personality styles and traits. This allows you to craft your pitch accordingly:
- Does your target seem to like storytelling or compelling visuals?
- Do they prefer humor?
- Do they appreciate directness?
Based on psychographic insights, you can hone your messaging and deliver it in a tone that’s likely to appeal to the recipient.
Segment your list
Once you’ve got a focused account list, start dividing it further so you can tailor your message as closely and specifically as possible to what a given company (and/or job title) is looking for.
- What is its industry or vertical?
- How big is the company?
- How many employees does it have?
- What’s the size of its customer base?
- Where is it located?
This level of breakdown will enable you to segment and deliver customized messaging and visuals.
No data, but you need a starting point?
Let’s say you’re launching a brand-new product and you don’t have a historical knowledge base. The process is basically the same, but you’ll be doing it with more guesswork and imagination. (It’ll still help!)
Make a broad list of your dream accounts. Make some educated guesses about who’s likely in the buying committee. Create your ideal list. Segment your targets. And make a careful list of baseline assumptions. As you move through the process, you’ll gauge responses and adjust accordingly.
This is about incremental improvements. Getting better each time you try that compounds over time.
Test and iterate. You’ll get there.