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Marketing is critical to new business development for agencies of all sizes. Yet, marketing efforts do not always result in the quality, or even quantity, of clients that agencies need to thrive.

Salesforce reports that 79% of marketing leads never convert, despite the amount of effort that goes into nurturing them. Even for those leads that convert, it can be hard to find those clients that are willing to pay what you are worth.

If your agency is struggling to find the right profile of clients that will take your business to the next level, then you may need to reinvent your marketing tactics. For this purpose, account-based marketing may be the secret to unlocking the growth you want.

Here is an inside look at what account-based marketing entails and how to use it to land those high-ticket clients.

What is account-based marketing?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy that focuses client acquisition efforts on a small pool of high-value accounts. While other marketing efforts aim to throw a wide net over a specific demographic and then sort through the catch, ABM skips the first phase and goes right to nurturing a small pool of highly qualified prospects.

The refined and hyper-focused nature of ABM has led to its being described as selling to a “market of one.” With ABM, the goal is not to attract a pool of leads that are interested and may make the decision to come on board with your agency. Instead, the entire focus is to go after a single account and do everything within your power to bring them on board.

ABM efforts are rooted in simple strategic brilliance. “More fine-tuned targeting will produce more engagement every single time,” according to Neil Patel. There is a simple reason for this. Buyers simply love personalized messaging. 75% of them prefer personalized offers and attention from brands, and as a result, personalized messages deliver six times more transactions than non-personalized ones. This is why ABM is regarded as the “ultimate personalization tool.”

Although it is enjoying more attention in marketing strategy today, ABM has been around for a long time. The tactic, as it exists today, grew from the previous account-based tactics employed by banks, brokers, and other high-powered firms on Wall Street. However, the strategy was resource intensive, often requiring special teams to nurture specific client accounts throughout their lifecycle with the firm.

With the technology available today, especially through marketing automation, ABM is now more accessible and far more efficient. Any agency can use ABM to pursue more profitable clients in a methodical manner, using fewer resources and producing better results.

How does it work?

ABM is primarily about understand the agency’s target audience, what they like and where they can be found. There are four basic steps to launch an ABM approach in your agency:

  • Pick targets: The process begins with selecting those targets that will make the best clients for your firm. Often, this is done in many ways, including through tools such as LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator and retargeting or analytics tools used by your business development team.
  • Plan content: Often, the first stage will turn up the target company, and important contacts in the company that should be the focus of the campaign. When this is done, it is important to plan engaging content to attract your target audience.
  • Nurture targets: Distribute engaging content to target and nurture prospects towards making a purchase.
  • Track results: Monitor results to decide which tactics are working. This also helps you understand what to replicate and what needs adjustment.

Benefits of account-based marketing

  • Bigger deal closings: ABM enables higher sales close rates and bigger deal sizes on average. According to reports, mid-market accounts have a 166% better close rate, and are more likely to close deals that are 40% larger. Enterprise accounts are also 285% more likely to close, and deals are 35% larger, on average.
  • Perfect for high-ticket services: Usually, more expensive services require more personalized messaging and longer sales cycles. People want to fully understand why they must pay as much as you want and will rarely make a commitment unless they are convinced. With ABM, teams can devote the time and resources to show specific clients the value of their purchase. They also know their efforts are not wasted, since the target accounts are more than capable of paying.
  • Higher ROI: ABM delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing tactic. Due to its incredibly focused nature, it allows less waste of resources and far better results. Due to this, 84% of businesses say ABM produces much better ROI than other tactics.

Doing ABM the right way

Although there is no doubt about the effectiveness of ABM for marketing agencies, it must still be done properly to produce results. Here are some of the important points that agencies must keep in mind as they pursue their ABM strategy:

  • Start by asking the “right question.” If you could sell to any 20 accounts of your choice, which would they be? Asking this question lets you aim for the absolute best clients for your business. This question also informs what is possible given your body of work.
  • You must add value. There is no point in marketing to dream accounts that you cannot fully service. The entire nurturing stage will be about selling a story as to why you are their best choice. As a result, you must lead with the value you bring.
  • Adopt smart personalized outreach. While ABM is less wasteful than most marketing strategies, it can take a lot of time and resources. If you do not have the resources to create 100% personalized campaigns for all your prospect, then you can adopt the 80/20 rule instead realizing that 80% of your revenue and/or profits come from 20% of your clients. Aim to personalize outreach efforts for 20% of your prospects.
  • Start warm rather than cold. While reaching out to new prospects may often mean having to use cold emails or messages, it can be helpful to leverage your network to make warm introductions where possible.

ABM is a powerful strategy for B2B agencies of all sizes and can be the key to unlocking the next stage of growth. To learn more about how ABM can help your client acquisition efforts, contact me to schedule a meeting. I would be delighted to discuss how ABM can help your new business development efforts.

Agency Advisor :: I help marketing agencies scale their business.

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