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“Don't let anybody kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business.” - Mario Puzo, The Godfather.
What is Account Based Marketing?
Everybody adores attention. Your clients are no exception. Trouble is, they also come with a fine tuned antenna programmed to detect whether that attention is a ‘one-size-fit-all’ platitude casually tumbling off an optimized funnel, or one that has been dotingly hand-crafted keeping just them in mind. Not surprisingly, the first one is largely ignored. But if you can do the second one right, you stand to win hearts, and land gold. Deeply personalized marketing initiatives and highly targeted sales efforts -directed at VIP accounts and high value clients to achieve this precise objective - is what ABM (Account Based Marketing) is all about. For trivia junkies : The term Account Based Marketing is widely accepted as being coined by ITSMA in 2004.
In our own ways of course, we are all maestros of Account Based Marketing. The kid who emotionally blackmails his dad for a toy or candy. The manager who pampers the boss for a promotion or perk. And pretty much everything we plan for Valentine’s Day. They are all great examples of account based marketing strategies perfected by humankind over centuries - aimed at ‘softening a moving target’ through ingenious means and ways. So when Don Peppers and Martha Rogers gave the concept of ABM ‘formal flesh and blood’ in 1993 - in their landmark publication The One-to-One Future that foretold the mass migration of mass marketing to more 1:1 formats - they merely bestowed official avatar to what we have always known : Business is personal.
Benefits of Account Based Marketing
Here’s why ABM delivers solid ROI.
Your (a) efforts are super-focussed, (b) trackability and measurability are high letting your optimize iteratively, and (c) energy dissipations and cost leaks are low. All of which means that even though you spend substantial amounts of time, effort and resource (something that, on its part, will come down progressively as you get better at the game), ‘Returns’ are higher than traditional marketing approaches. Way higher, sometimes, to more than justify spends. When you add other intangible benefits, the mileage can feel positively exponential. They are-
Social capital and ‘free press’ that affirmative word-of-mouth from a VIP or big shot account (which is what most of your ABM exercises will target) can fetch for your brand.
Greater synergies between marketing and sales which can unlock new capabilities and build priceless competitive edge for your organization.
Shorter sales cycles - a result of targeting the decision maker right from the beginning, instead of letting frontline workers work their way up gradually - which lets you squeeze in more accounts and pump up revenue generation.
Account Based Marketing Tactics to Increase Conversions
The essence of ABM is data and relationship. You want to hoard up as much data about your target account as you can. It all begins after you have minutely ‘trawled the pool’ to create a short-list of ‘High-ROI / High-Value’ clients you want to focus on, and have thrashed out their personas in granular detail. The goal is to ‘know’ your client so well, that you become their de-facto marketing department they aren’t aware of - the one that’s operating from the outside. This means having deep insights into their strengths, pain points, goals and competition, to the extent that you can, if asked to, devise their strategy roadmaps, deploy best-fit resources and even predict future needs. Equipped with this formidable knowledge, you will now proceed to the relationship stage, where the bridges of trust and confidence you develop will allow your ‘insider knowledge’ to work its magic and impress the CXO, owner or whoever lies in your crosshairs.
The stage is now set for your ABM specialists to step inside the ring. Their job involves:
1. Figuring out the Fitment Point
The spot or angle where your solution makes the best sense for the account. This is the starting point for your marketing and sales army to swing into action.
2. Building Demand Generation Strategies
This involves educating the customer about your value proposition and building your ‘brand’ to position yourself as the expert / authority best who can best address their challenges and best serve their opportunities. This will involve extensive ‘top-of-the-funnel’ content such as social media, video, blogs, creative campaigns and so on.
3. Deploying Lead Generation Gambits
Once you think you have ‘impressed’ your potential client sufficiently, you unleash the lead generation arsenal in your armory - be it activating personalized campaigns, identifying appropriate sales channels, direct mailers, demo’s, course registrations and so on. Note that your marketing and sales team will need to synchronize closely, for the synergy they manage to establish will be key to your ABM success.
4. Nurture the Bond
This is what makes or breaks your ABM. While your client will be pleasantly surprised with your ‘undivided attention’ and the encyclopaedic knowledge you carry about their organization, if you don’t control it strategically, a well meaning tracking exercise may soon start to feel like stalking and thereon, things may get real creepy real fast.
This is where your seasoned AMB rockstars have to get creative with how they handle the situation. Apart from intuitively designed inbound and content strategies, this phase must include the X-Factor of incentives.
Amping Up Your Account Based Marketing Strategy with Reward SWAG
Turn every touchpoint intriguing and irresistible by personalizing it with a thoughtful and memorable reward.
Be it opening an emailer, registering for a Demo or trial, taking part in a survey or poll, enrolling for a course, subscribing to your newsletter / youtube channel or confirming a webinar participation, make sure your carefully handpicked HNC (High Net-Worth Client) has enough reason to act affirmatively. And don’t stop there. Follow it up with a delightful memento that warmly acknowledges their gesture.
Be it thanking them for ‘joining the club’, so to speak, championing adoption across roles and functions in their company, recommending your services to their networks or playing brand advocate by sharing positive reviews online, keep the vibe alive with your cherished VIP patron by being nimble in spotting, saluting and rewarding ‘ambassador behaviour’.
Follow the Thumb Rule of Rewarding
When you reward, make sure you tick the Big 3: DESIRABILITY - gifts and prizes that feature right on top of your potential VIP client’s wish-lists, CUSTOMIZATION - match the incentive to the magnitude of the occasion and the personality of the receiver, and SPEED - don’t break the tempo, reward instantly to keep spirits at ‘winning level’.
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At Xoxoday, we deeply understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and engagement drivers of people, be it an employee, supplier, contract staff, gig or consumer. We bring simplicity and continuity to a complex, everyday problem.