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account based marketing (ABM)

How Manufacturers Can Win Big with Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Industrial Content Marketing

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Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic alternative to the Approved Vendor List (AVL) that manufacturers have traditionally used. Why look for an alternative?

While Approved Vendor Lists (AVLs) can be valuable for some manufacturers, they often prioritize cost savings and compliance over fostering innovation and building personalized solutions. This traditional approach can leave manufacturers struggling to connect with high-value customers on a deeper level.

On the other hand, Account Based Marketing (ABM), offers a better solution to targeting high-value customers. ABM allows you to proactively identify and nurture relationships with your ideal customers, positioning your company as a strategic partner rather than simply a vendor on a list. By focusing on building strong relationships with key accounts, manufacturers can drive higher ROI, improve sales efficiency, and establish themselves as industry leaders.

Combined with targeted industrial content marketing, ABM can truly revolutionize how manufacturers approach sales and marketing, leading to more meaningful customer engagement and, ultimately, greater business growth.

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that focuses your marketing and sales efforts on a select group of high-value accounts. Instead of casting a wide net and hoping for the best, ABM allows you to tailor your messaging and outreach to each individual account’s specific needs and interests. It’s a shift from a volume-based approach to a value-based one.

This focused strategy prioritizes quality over quantity, recognizing that not all customers are created equal. By concentrating your efforts on a smaller number of high-potential accounts, you can invest more time and resources into building meaningful relationships that yield greater returns.

Why ABM is a Game-Changer for Manufacturers

Relying solely on traditional marketing methods can be inefficient and ineffective for manufacturers. These approaches often lead to:

  • Wasted Resources: Marketing efforts are spread too thin, targeting a broad audience instead of focusing on high-value accounts.
  • Generic Messaging: Marketing messages are not tailored to individual accounts’ specific needs and pain points.
  • Misalignment Between Sales and Marketing: Sales and marketing teams operate in silos, leading to missed opportunities and inconsistent messaging.

ABM addresses these challenges by taking a more strategic and personalized approach. By identifying and targeting specific accounts with tailored messaging and offers, you can build stronger relationships, drive more meaningful engagement, and ultimately close more deals.

Imagine having a dedicated team focused solely on your top-tier customers, understanding their unique challenges and offering them solutions that precisely match their needs. That’s the power of ABM.

Identifying Key Accounts for ABM Success

The success of your ABM strategy hinges on identifying the right accounts to target. This involves analyzing various factors such as:

  • Revenue potential: Focus on accounts that have the highest potential for generating revenue and contributing to your bottom line.
  • Strategic fit: Target accounts that align with your overall business goals and ideal customer profile.
  • Influence and decision-making power: Identify key stakeholders and decision-makers within each account to ensure your message reaches the right people.

Identifying the ideal accounts can be a complex process, but it’s a critical step in ensuring the success of your ABM strategy. It requires a deep understanding of your market, customers, and capabilities.

If you need help identifying and prioritizing your key accounts, we can provide the guidance and help you need.

Aligning Sales and Marketing for ABM

One of the biggest challenges manufacturers face is aligning their sales and marketing teams. Often, these departments operate in silos, with different goals, metrics, and approaches. This lack of alignment can lead to wasted resources, missed opportunities, and inconsistent messaging.

“Creating content for the buyer’s journey, aligning sales and marketing, and internal communication are important challenges manufacturing marketers face.”

Source: The Content Marketing Institute.

ABM provides a framework for breaking down these silos and fostering collaboration between sales and marketing. By working together to identify target accounts, develop personalized messaging, and execute coordinated outreach efforts, both teams can achieve far greater results than they could working in isolation.

To achieve successful sales and marketing alignment in an ABM context, consider these strategies:

  • Shared Goals and Metrics: Align on common goals, such as increased revenue, improved retention, or shorter sales cycles.
  • Regular Communication and Feedback: Promote open dialogue through regular meetings and feedback sessions.
  • Joint Planning and Execution: Collaborate on all aspects of ABM campaigns, from persona development to channel selection.
  • Shared Tools and Resources: To facilitate collaboration, invest in tools like CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, and project management software.

By implementing these strategies, manufacturers can create a culture of collaboration and alignment between sales and marketing, which is essential for ABM’s success.

“Account-based marketing (ABM) has proven more effective than traditional demand marketing and is changing the game for all revenue-responsible functions. However, these functions still struggle to embed ABM best practices across the organization. Rather than carving out one defined path, ABM’s charge is to understand the customers who matter most.”

Source: Forrester

Crafting Personalized Content and Offers for Manufacturers

Personalization is at the heart of ABM. To capture the attention and interest of your target accounts, you need to create manufacturing content and offers tailored to their specific needs and interests. This goes beyond simply addressing them by name in an email. It’s about understanding their pain points, challenges, and goals and then delivering the right content at the right time to guide them through their buyer’s journey.

As discussed in our previous blog post on AI-Powered Content Creation for Manufacturers, understanding the buyer’s journey is crucial. You need to create content that caters to each stage of the journey:

  • Awareness: Content that educates potential customers about their problems and potential solutions.
  • Consideration: Content that helps customers evaluate different solutions and compare their options.
  • Decision: Content that convinces customers to choose your product or service.

Some effective content types for ABM in the manufacturing industry include:

  • Case studies that showcase how your products or services have solved similar problems for other manufacturers.
  • White papers that provide in-depth insights into industry trends or challenges.
  • Webinars that offer educational content or product demonstrations.
  • Personalized emails that address specific pain points or offer tailored solutions.
  • Targeted landing pages that provide relevant information and resources to specific accounts.

Remember, the goal is to create content that is so relevant and valuable that it feels like it was created specifically for each individual account. This level of personalization can have a powerful impact on engagement and conversion rates.

Developing compelling offers is equally important. These offers should be tailored to the specific needs and interests of each target account. They could include:

  • Pilot projects or demos of your product or service.
  • Exclusive content and marketing support for channel partners who already sell to large OEMs and your target accounts.
  • Invitations to VIP events, trade shows or webinars.
  • Custom consultations or site assessments to help address specific challenges.

By crafting personalized content, you can demonstrate your understanding of your customers’ needs and position yourself as a valuable partner. This approach not only helps you win new business but also strengthens existing relationships and encourages long-term loyalty.

Selecting the Right Marketing Channels for ABM

A multi-channel approach is essential for ABM success. This means using a variety of channels to reach your target accounts, including both digital and traditional methods. The goal is to create a consistent and impactful message that resonates with your target audience, regardless of where they encounter your brand.

Remember, the manufacturing industry often has decision-makers who prefer different communication channels. Some might be active on LinkedIn, while others might prefer industry publications or trade shows. A multi-channel approach ensures you are reaching your target audience where they’re most likely to engage.

Here are some channel considerations for manufacturers:

  • LinkedIn: Connect with decision-makers, share thought leadership content, and establish your company as a trusted resource.
  • Industry Publications: Increase visibility through technical articles, ads (print and digital), or event sponsorships in relevant trade publications.
  • Trade Shows and Events: Network with interested prospects and customers, showcase your products (New product introductions or additional features), and gather valuable insights. (Pre- and post-show email marketing are very important)
  • Email Marketing: Nurture relationships with personalized content and offers tailored to their interests. (Maintaining top-of-mind awareness through long sales cycles is critical)
  • Website Personalization: Dynamically tailor website content based on visitor data to create a more relevant and engaging experience. This can include showing different case studies, testimonials, or product recommendations based on a visitor’s industry, company size, or previous interactions with your brand.

Leveraging multiple channels and tailoring your message to each account can create a more personalized and effective ABM strategy. Remember, the goal is to reach your target audience where they’re most likely to engage and provide them with a seamless experience across all touchpoints.

“Organizations that manage more channels accomplish more marketing goals than those with fewer channels.”

Source: Gartner.

Measuring and Tracking ABM Success

You’ve put in the effort to identify your key accounts, align your sales and marketing teams, and craft personalized content and offers. But how do you know if your ABM strategy is actually working? This is where measurement and tracking come in.

Measuring and tracking your ABM efforts is crucial for several reasons:

  • Demonstrate ROI: By tracking key metrics, you can clearly demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of your ABM campaigns. This data can be used to justify your budget and secure additional resources for future ABM initiatives.
  • Identify What’s Working (and What’s Not): Tracking your results helps you identify which aspects of your ABM strategy are most effective and which ones need improvement. This allows you to optimize your approach and maximize your results over time.
  • Make Data-Driven Decisions: Data-driven insights enable you to make informed decisions about your ABM strategy, including which accounts to focus on, which content to create, and which channels to utilize.
  • Continuous Improvement: By regularly tracking and analyzing your results, you can continuously refine your ABM strategy to ensure it remains effective and delivers the desired outcomes.

Key Metrics to Track for ABM Success:

Here are some essential metrics to track when measuring the success of your ABM campaigns:

  • Account Engagement: This measures how often your target accounts are interacting with your content and outreach. Look at metrics like website visits, email opens and clicks, social media engagement, and event attendance. (Google Analytics alone may not be enough)
  • Pipeline Growth: Track the number of qualified leads you’re generating from your target accounts. This indicates whether your ABM efforts are effectively moving potential customers through the sales funnel.
  • Revenue Generated: The ultimate goal of ABM is to increase revenue. Track the amount of revenue generated from your target accounts to assess the overall effectiveness of your strategy.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): ABM is about building long-term relationships. Track the CLTV of your target accounts to gauge the long-term impact of your ABM efforts.
  • Sales Cycle Length: ABM can help shorten sales cycles by focusing on qualified leads and delivering personalized experiences. Track the average sales cycle length for your target accounts to see if ABM is having a positive impact.

However, accurately measuring the impact of ABM across multiple channels and touchpoints during long sales cycles can be a challenge. In the industrial sector, it’s often difficult to directly attribute specific marketing activities to revenue generation. This is due to the complex nature of industrial buying journeys, which often involve multiple decision-makers, long consideration periods, and a variety of influencing factors.

ABM for Smaller Manufacturers

You might be thinking, “ABM sounds great, but it seems like a strategy reserved for large enterprises with deep pockets.” However, that’s not entirely true. Smaller manufacturers can also leverage the power of ABM to drive significant growth.

It’s true that ABM can be resource-intensive, but there are ways to make it work even with a limited budget. Here are a few tips:

  • Start Small: You don’t need to go all-in right away. Begin with a pilot program focused on a few high-potential accounts. This will allow you to test the waters, refine your approach, and demonstrate the value of ABM before scaling up.
  • Focus on High-Value Accounts: Don’t try to target every large account. Instead, focus your efforts on a select group of accounts that have the highest potential for revenue and growth. This will maximize your ROI and ensure that your resources are being used effectively.
  • Leverage Technology: Many affordable ABM tools and platforms are available that can help you automate and streamline your efforts. These tools can help you identify key accounts, personalize your outreach, and track your results.
  • Partner with Experts: If you lack the in-house expertise or resources to implement ABM on your own, consider partnering with an agency that specializes in ABM for manufacturers. This can be a cost-effective way to get started and ensure that your ABM strategy is set up for success.

By following these tips, smaller manufacturers can implement ABM without breaking the bank. It’s about being strategic, focusing on the right accounts, and leveraging available resources to maximize your impact.

Remember, ABM is an investment, not an expense. When done right, it can deliver significant returns in terms of increased revenue, stronger customer relationships, and improved brand reputation. So don’t let budget constraints hold you back. With the right approach, ABM can be a powerful tool for growth for manufacturers of all sizes.

Are you ready to leave outdated marketing tactics behind and embrace the future of manufacturing sales? Let’s talk about how ABM can transform your business.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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