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Understanding ABM in five steps

Don Hoyt Gorman

An ABM campaign is strategically aimed at a specific target account, or small group of accounts, that has been challenging to secure or maintain. Through collaboration between sales and marketing ABM has the power to transform reputation and solve business challenges that no other kind of marketing can. 

The why and the how of ABM can be broken down into five key considerations. 

  1. When should you start thinking about ABM? 

Consider ABM when you have a specific challenge or opportunity within a single account or a group of similar accounts. You may have lost momentum with one of your top-tier accounts and are looking for strategically-driven creative to help regain status and revenue. Perhaps your brand message isn’t landing properly with certain types of clients, making it difficult to secure accounts in target sectors. Or, there may be a significant sales opportunity on the horizon, and you want to position your offer as one tailored to the customer's requirements. 

  1. What is the first step to building a successful ABM campaign?  

Too often, by the time you start considering ABM it’s because your sales teams have exhausted all their usual avenues. They’ve built account plans and held meetings to present their case, but despite all efforts, real progress is not forthcoming. Despite establishing and building relationships, they haven’t reached enough of the most influential people in the account. 

Establishing a partnership between sales and marketing is the most important first step in building a successful ABM campaign. The two complement each other perfectly – sales account insights enrich marketing’s creativity and vice versa. Together, they can run highly targeted campaigns.

  1. Who is your audience? 

Rather than casting a wide net to engage a broad audience, your ABM campaign needs to target a specific audience. Typically, this is the buying committee within your target account. To approach this audience you need to have meaningful messages that address their specific business and role-based challenges. 

  1. What are the steps of an ABM campaign? 

In general, the campaign execution journey begins by selecting accounts and conducting stakeholder mapping. From this, account insights and key themes are developed which inform the creation of account-relevant messaging and content. Engaging the account stakeholders throughout the campaign timeline and measuring the account progress is key to the smooth running of the campaign. 

  1. What are the results? 

ABM is strategically focused meaning it lives and breathes the messages the target account needs to hear. It cuts straight through to the target audience and directly supports sales by creating genuine leads. Though it is a more involved undertaking than other forms of marketing, it can be the difference between securing or losing a transformational deal. 

When there are specific, high-value challenges or opportunities that can’t be handled with the usual approaches, ABM offers a powerful solution. These campaigns are a world unto their own: no other approach gets as deep into understanding your accounts and stakeholders and nothing else can deliver the same results. 

A version of this article previously appeared on AIthority in January 2023.