By Travis Kennedy
“Treating individual accounts as a market in their own right”
-ITSMA’s definition of account based marketing
Much in the same way that content marketing has grown as a meaningful component of a well-balanced B2B marketing plan, Account Level Marketing (ALM) is quickly taking root. Account targeting is not a new concept but today’s software tools and media channels make it far more cost-effective to execute. This is especially true in the water and wastewater industry with how segmented private and public treatment plant ownership is.
As with general marketing, ALM is all about reaching the right individuals with the right content in the right medium at the right time in their buying cycle. It’s just that the individuals are all within an identified group of set accounts which can provide amazing clarity for you as a marketer. Understanding the specific account and individuals that you are looking to engage within that account can bring incredible focus to the content you create and the mediums you use to reach them. Here’s how:
- Customize your content to the individual
Traditionally, marketing to the water and wastewater industry has involved creating advertisements and marketing copy that would appeal to all. But in today’s world of business-related social media networks such as LinkedIn, and inexpensive marketing channels such as email and text messaging, you can now message individuals directly.
Without a specific individual in mind, marketing messages will typically fall into one of two camps. Either they are exploratory, trying to tease out an issue that your company can address e.g. Are you experiencing chronic water loss? Or they focus on your solution because you can’t reach audience members specifically as they all have different needs.
With individual messaging, you can go directly to work on a customer’s core needs e.g. The primary pump in your lift station at South and Main is 5 years old. Let’s organize an audit to see how efficiently it’s running.
- Customize your content by job responsibility not title
When you start focusing on titles within a targeted company, your messaging and your sales process suffers greatly. Your content should be geared towards what the prospect needs versus what you assume they need based on their job title. The plant manager at one municipality will likely have different priorities than the plant manager two towns over. When practicing account level marketing, ask yourself what does each account’s “daily and common” look like or what do you think keeps them up at night? Those are the types of questions and situations you should be addressing with your content versus assuming and giving them all the same message.
- Pair your representatives with your customer’s people
Account level marketing allows you to personalize your marketing. This not only means sending a message directly from one person in your organization to one person in your prospect’s but also figuring out who in your organization will have the most impact reaching out to their decision makers.
At a minimum, your email marketing should include the contact’s name. Preferably it contains yours too. People like to converse. But beyond this, spend some time trying to link the like-minded in your company with the like-minded in your prospects. If your desired target is very technical, then an engineer from your product development team might have more connection than a senior sales executive. Or maybe he’s a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan … do you have a sales rep who shares a love of baseball?
Don’t rely solely on geography or enterprise level boundaries. Customize the connection. All reps and sales managers have certain talents they bring to the table so let those talents match up with the kind of buyer or prospect you are faced with for a better outcome.
- Customize your content to the account’s buying cycle
Most marketers in the water industry design messaging that is built to generate immediate sales. The problem is that the percentage of your audience ready to buy is miniscule compared to the percentage ready to engage. Today’s world requires outreach marketing designed to secure a meeting versus generating an immediate sale. You need to recognize where each account is in the buying cycle and provide the right content to positively move the account in taking the next step in their decision-making towards your company.
A good example of this is Schneider Electric’s Wastewater Competency Center. Instead of making the sale of their technology the focal point of their marketing, Schneider Electric offers a free energy audit to targeted accounts. Knowing that it takes more than a pretty picture and a slick tagline to move product in an impactful way, the audit helps Schneider Electric gain face-to-face time with target facilities that are early-on in their decision-making process.