Building pipeline typically involves a net and/or a spear approach to your outbound strategy. Messaging and targeting within a net are typically broader, enabling sales and marketing teams to reach a higher number of prospects (though not all are necessarily “right”). A spear, on the other hand, is a highly targeted and personal approach to pipeline generation, often seen in Account Based Marketing (ABM).
Today, ABM is a highly valued approach to generating qualified leads that match your target account(s). With ABM, all messages, content, and outreach are laser focused on that specific account. You conduct extensive research. You identify contacts and influencers within the account. You develop personalized content for that account. All efforts are geared toward landing that first conversation and progressing through the buyer’s journey to sale.
Sounds simple enough, right?
The truth is, ABM can be quite challenging to get right. But the effort is worth its weight in gold … In fact, you may be three feet from gold and you don’t even realize it!
To really pour some gasoline on your ABM strategy, try these creative fire starters!
#1: Keep it interesting with multiple content formats to get that fire rolling.[Content] variety is the spice of life for your ABM campaign. When you consider the variables associated with learning styles and preferences, time constraints, attention spans, interest levels, and so on, it becomes even more important to ensure your outreach includes a variety of content styles and formats to grab the attention of your prospect.
Mix things up.
For example, many organizations have seen tremendous success by using the Active Blogs Content Quad, which leverages four content formats to generate optimal engagement – written articles, graphic micro posts, video interviews, and podcasts. The content quad touches on several learning styles and preferences, casting a wider net for engagement.
By customizing these content pieces to appeal to your target account or contact, you’ll be able to establish a connection and begin a conversation faster. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that you understand what your prospect is dealing with and that you have information that could help. Offer education and guidance. Don’t jump straight into a sales conversation. When you do this right, the sales conversation will naturally follow.
To scale this approach, create content templates that you can customize and personalize with your target account information.
#2: Build your sphere of influence with a podcast.
Podcasts are growing in popularity – and for good reason. As a purely auditory experience, podcasts provide a unique portal to information and insights that the listener can engage with anytime, anywhere, with just a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
It’s like sitting in on a conversation with one or more influencers, discussing a topic of interest to you.
For business, podcasts provide an opportunity to share best practices, words of wisdom, solutions to common problems, and more. But what makes business podcasts especially unique is their ability to expand your sphere of influence within a target account.
For example, let’s say you are trying to gain a foothold in the HR department of a major enterprise organization in the healthcare space. Your podcast may address specific challenges that healthcare HR leaders are experiencing right now. You may include other healthcare leaders in the discussion to widen your breadth of experience and wisdom as well.
The point of the podcast is not to sell. It’s to educate. To demonstrate your expertise. The more you are able to do this well on your podcast, the more fuel you have to share these insights with your prospects and widen your sphere of influence within that target account.
You may opt to share a specific clip from a recent podcast episode with one or more contacts within your target account, for example. By getting contacts engaged and subscribed to your podcast, you have secured a spot in their world. What you do with that spot and how long you keep it, is up to you.
#3: Share your insights and expertise through video – either solo, interview-style, or panel discussion.
Video is the next best thing to in-person communication. Not only does it provide a great medium to express your insights and expertise, but the viewer gets to put a face to the information as well! From how-to videos and quick problem-solution demonstrations, to sharing industry trends, company news, and more – there’s really no limit to content opportunities you have with video.
In your ABM campaign, you could use video to highlight an industry problem and your innovative solution, whether that’s a live video with you speaking or an animated version to catch the recipient’s attention. You may also use it to share a personal message to your prospect, almost like a video voicemail. In later stages of your ABM campaign, you could use video to share a demo of your product or a customer case study to help in the decision-making process.
Another benefit to video? Trackability. Whether you choose to upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, or embed the video directly onto a webpage or email, you’ll be able to track the views of the video, giving you more to talk about when you connect with your prospect again.
#4: Personalize video and audio messages via LinkedIn messaging.
LinkedIn is a great place to meet and nurture connections. But don’t limit yourself to written messages. Surprise your contact by sending a voice or even video message. This creates a more personal connection between you and your prospect and may actually increase your level of engagement with him or her.
Consider using this option to share a quick note about an upcoming event, podcast, or resource. You also may want to send a voice or video reply to a question they asked. By speaking directly to your prospect, you’re demonstrating a one-to-one communication vs. a canned response, which will go a long way in your ABM efforts.
#5: Connect internal leaders with leaders at your target account.
Align the leaders within your organization with the leaders within your target account. In some cases, your executive team may grant you access to their LinkedIn credentials to do the connecting for them. In others, you simply need to supply a list of target contacts. In either case, connecting leader to leader will expand your sphere of influence within that organization. Now, your chief executive officer (CEO) can share custom content with the CEO at your target account. It’s not coming from a sales person (wink, wink), it’s coming from the CEO, giving it an air of authority that it may not otherwise.
Once a connection is established, the executive can then hand-off the communication to the appropriate sales professional to continue the process. If things stall, you can always loop the executive back into the conversation to try to stir things up again.
This is very much a “use the resources you have” approach. You’re not alone in your business, so why approach your sale alone?
#6: Leverage your entire company to spread content like wildfire.
Present a united front. Similar to #5, use what you’ve got! Encourage the entire company to share the latest resources, podcasts, webinars, blog articles, videos, and more. The more exposure you can give your company, the more likely someone at your target account will take notice and possibly even share within their network as well. This type of activity will complement your ABM campaign and help drive its influence.
#7: Add some sizzle with graphics and bite-site thought leadership.
Creative graphics paired with bite-sized thought leadership is a great way to stop your prospect from scrolling through their news feed and pay attention to what you have to say. Try mixing up your styles by including a fun quiz or interesting statistic or innovative use case. You may choose static, attention-grabbing images or short video clips or gifs that create movement to draw the eye in.
Within your text caption, share a compelling fact or statistic, pose a question, challenge an assumption, or tell a quick story. Keep it brief, but informative. And always include a call to action, whether that action is to engage in the comments, read an article, watch a video, or something else. Always give your reader a direction to go next. If not, you now have a missed opportunity to further engage with him or her.
#8: Create intrigue with a direct mail or digital teaser.
Step outside of the digital playground and (dare I say it) send something to your prospect … in the mail. That’s right, I said it. By sending a hand-written note or clever interactive brochure or even something techy that relates to your solution will surely set you apart from the crowd. If you are unable to send something via direct mail, digital is the next best thing. Get creative with your digital message. Use video or animation. Create something interactive and unique. Don’t settle for the standard email. While email is a great form of communication, in this situation you’re going for more personal and awe-worthy. So use this opportunity to step up your game!
#9: Don’t forget the s’mores! Collaboration is great funnel fuel.
Collaboration is a powerful tool in business. As a community, we share insights, best practices, war stories, and funny quips. As a community we support one another … and that includes support in sales activities and conversations. For example, by collaborating with a leader in your target industry, you’ve now opened the door to a “tell me more about what you do” conversation. This is especially useful if you are collaborating with a key contact at your target account.
Even beyond that conversation, you’ve established a relationship that you can now nurture and build upon. Perhaps the person you are collaborating with is not an ideal client, but someone in his or her network could be. You now have a connection that could make a warm introduction that you would not have had otherwise.
Additionally, collaborating on resources like podcasts, articles, ebooks, etc. can expand your marketing reach when both companies are promoting to their networks and email lists. This provides tremendous opportunity to get your name out there and attract the attention of one or more contacts at your target account(s).
#10: Personalize your website, create a unique landing page, or develop a microsite that is custom to your target account(s).
Once you’ve grabbed their attention, where do you send them? To a generic page on your website? Instead of choosing the standard route, consider creating a custom landing page or microsite for your target account(s). Use this as an opportunity to customize your messaging to speak directly to your target’s challenges, concerns, and goals. Don’t be afraid to use the company’s name to really hit home that this is specifically for them. Leverage information you’ve gathered in research and conversations you’ve had with contacts at that company to really hit home the messaging details. There are tools available to allow you to customize your website by visitor, as well, should you choose to go that route. In either case, get creative and make a meaningful impact on your target account!
At the end of the day, it’s important to be prepared to camp for a while. Don’t expect a one-spark ignition; true ABM takes time. But you can fuel your ABM fire by using one or more of these ideas!