There are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways for a business to approach marketing. Some IT providers cast a wide net and hope to gain whatever types of accounts they can. Others narrow their focus and go after just a handful of specific, high-value accounts. Instead of a net, these are the ones with a rod and reel casting a line for the big one. The latter approach is what we mean by account-based marketing.
For an MSP, account-based marketing means that rather than attempting to send a broad message and market to whomever might hear it, you select a few target accounts and personalize all messaging and communications for those target groups. You focus your messaging and carefully refine it to your target’s individual needs, which lets you prove to the target you understand its business and are a clear choice for IT services it might need.
Here are a few key steps to getting started with account-based marketing.
Pick Your Niche
Lots of IT providers are generalists who can help anybody who has IT needs. Some of the more successful providers, however, pick a few niche areas and work to understand everything they can about them so they can land the most high-value accounts. The first step in building an account-based marketing strategy is deciding who to target. It may be that you already have a few niche areas of focus, but if not, you’ll need to select one or two. Remember, it’s not about casting a wide net. It’s about finding exactly what the big fish needs, so don’t go overboard selecting too many areas of focus. Once you understand these types of business, you become more of an expert than any local competitors, and you also become better-equipped to craft messaging for that audience in the future. A few popular areas of focus are:
- Small medical practices
- Dental offices
- Food and beverage
Learn Your Niche
Again, you may already have an area of focus , but if not, it’s up to you to begin finding one. You’ll need to understand the specific pain points of the niche you’ve chosen and be prepared to provide services that solve those problems. For instance, anyone in healthcare is concerned with data security and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Becoming an expert in HIPAA can involve everything from studying information online to taking a class on HIPAA to attending healthcare industry events. Learning your niche informs the messaging you’ll create when you start angling for the big one, but it also helps you be sure that you’re not just saying you can help a particular niche but you can prove it, too.
Build a List of Leads
Whether you’re sending postcards, emails, or what-have-you, you need to get your message out to the world, and for that you need leads. Remember, each new lead you gather should be a part of the niche(s) you selected. If you’re targeting dental offices, your list should be dental offices exclusively. A few popular ways of finding leads are:
- Business listings
- Networking at local events (such as the chamber of commerce)
- Attending industry conferences (for example, a local conference or event for dentists)
- Asking for references
- Targeted advertising on LinkedIn
Take a look at our brief guide on how to get more leads for more information.
Get Personal with Your Messaging
According to Aberdeen, 75 percent of consumers prefer personalized offers. Any business wants to partner with someone trustworthy who understands his or her space and pain points. Using our small dental office example, you’ll want to ensure that your postcards, emails, or online ads are hyper-specific. Going back to HIPAA, your messaging for the dental office might attempt to demonstrate that you understand the compliance and IT needs of dental offices and are ready to solve their problems.
Keep Learning and Refining
Chances are, if you’re new to a niche it will take you a lot of effort to learn, understand, and to demonstrate your capabilities to that niche, which means a big part of the process can be continually refining your messaging for the targets you selected. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate success. Marketing is a science with plenty of variables, and more often than not you’ll need to continually update your messaging to ensure that it resonates with your targets.
Landing Big Ones
Account-based marketing is popular because it allows you to be super-focused on getting the absolute best accounts for you. Whether you’re picking a single niche or a few, what’s important is that you understand them well and can speak to the decision-makers who might bring you on board for services. As you start to get the hang of the process, you won’t just land one big one, you might land dozens.