Persona-based marketing makes ABM more ‘human’

Account-based marketing (ABM) isn’t for the half-hearted marketer. It requires a deep commitment to understanding the companies you’re targeting before marketing to them. You need to know your target’s initiatives, industry trends, and even their recent press mentions.

But don’t forget that you’re still marketing to people in your target accounts. Your demand generation efforts won’t reach their full potential and the campaign may fall on deaf ears if personas aren’t considered as part of your ABM strategy. To avoid your ABM campaigns falling flat, here are four tips to optimise your persona marketing strategy.

Start with one target vertical

Don’t let your eyes fool you into taking on more verticals than you can handle when it comes to building ABM persona plays. On average, a B2B contract involves about seven stakeholders in just one purchasing decision. The larger the account, the more stakeholders involved in purchasing. This means more personas for you to understand.

The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, means that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your efforts. In business, for instance, this means 80% of your profits come from 20% of your sales.

Now, apply this idea to prioritising your ABM targets. You’ll want to start your efforts in the vertical with the greatest average contract value because they’ll account for the majority of your profit. Now, take the Pareto Principle a step further and apply it to the personas within your target accounts. Which personas are going to have the most influence on the buying decision? Focus your time and resources on them for maximum impact.

Make a clear identification of roles

Across verticals, it can be difficult to differentiate roles and responsibilities. For example, someone in marketing at a B2B tech company might do the same job as someone with an audience solutions title at a health insurance company. To accurately understand target titles and department structure, interview existing customers in the target vertical. Then, use a lead-to-account mapping tool (Demandbase/Terminus) or data enrichment tool to build out contacts in target accounts. Finally, label each contact as one of the following personas: champion, influencer or decision maker.

  • Champion. This persona is passionate about the value proposition of your solution and they will advocate on behalf of your solution to other personas (influencers/decision makers).
  • Influencer. This persona will provide critical feedback throughout the buying process and has a vested interest in the outcome of the buying decision.
  • Decision maker. This persona is likely to be the buyer during the decision-making process

Match your multichannel messaging to personas

So, you’ve established your vertical target, your personas, their placement in the org and their pain points. Now, it’s time to create messaging that resonates with each of them through various channels. How many channels? We found the most fruitful persona plays use four to six channels to engage each target. Leverage online (email, social media) and offline (direct mail, phone calls) efforts to maximise engagement.

In your messaging, ensure each persona has their own individual call to action, relevant to the role they play in the deal. For example, your champion is likely to take action (attending a webinar, filling out a demo request) on their own, without intervention. But it’s important for the champion to bring along an influencer or decision maker to the conversation and you need to incentivise them to do so. If you struggle to accomplish this, I’d suggest running a ‘do this, get this’ campaign to sweeten the deal. One of PFL’s customers, TimeTrade, increased meeting conversions by 25% when they ran a meeting maker campaign to champions and hard-to-reach executives within their target accounts.

Follow-up when necessary

When you run a campaign like this, don’t reach out to every persona at a target at the same time. It’s a better idea to hold back on contacting certain influencers or champions in case your initial attempts stall out. That way, they can intervene and try to help move the deal forward. Outside of when you plan to run a persona campaign, ensure your efforts are ‘always on’ (like ABM awareness ads or email nurture) with a clear follow-up strategy. For example, when we send out personalised direct mail from PFL, our sales team is notified within 15 minutes of the package delivery so the salesperson can follow up at precisely the right time.

The goal of ABM is creating a focused connection between your brand and your target accounts. Leveraging a persona-based marketing strategy makes the entire approach that much more human. A half-hearted approach will lead to half of the results you’re striving to achieve. Invest the time up front to understand the companies and people you’re going after so your campaigns don’t fail.

B2B Marketing ABM Report 2020

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