If you had to entice a customer to buy your product using one sentence or less, what would you say? This is the question you should ask yourself when developing a value proposition. It can be difficult to narrow down your product’s value to 20-30 words. Luckily, there are numerous tools available that will take you through a step-by-step process of developing a value proposition. These tools can help you prioritize important information, organize your thoughts, and even bring you to a new perspective or idea that will enhance the way you communicate your product or service’s value to customers.
Here are a few tools to help you develop a strong B2B value proposition:
Bain & Company created a model that organizes valuable elements that B2B organizations can offer customers. The model’s roots can be traced back to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from 1943, which argues humans are motivated by both basic and complex needs. However, this model focuses on people’s motivation for buying products or services. The elements at the bottom are easy to measure, such as acceptable price, while the elements at the top are more objective and difficult to quantify, such as reputational assurance.
According to leaders at Bain & Company, if companies use “modern survey techniques and statistical analysis to quantify all the elements on a consistent basis, they can learn what customers truly value and which aspects of an offering merit investment.” By surveying customers and asking them to rate the elements they value most, you can modify and improve your value proposition.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Strategyzer, known for their business model platform, offers a canvas tool for companies to create value propositions. It’s composed of two sections, a customer profile and value map. The customer profile describes the jobs your customers try to get done (these can be functional, social, or emotional). In addition, this section highlights the pains customers experience when trying to get the job done and the gains they hope to achieve.
The value map lists the products and services your value proposition builds on. In this section, you should ask yourself, how does your product minimize or reduce pain points? How does it maximize outcomes/benefits? The best value propositions come from connecting your customer profile and value map. The customer profile may contain countless jobs, pains, and gains but the value map helps you highlight which ones to focus on.
This trademarked tool is a product of Futurecurve’s research into human behavior. The six elements are part of an iterative process that leads to a customer-centric value proposition. The process is centered around identifying your target market and how your product or service provides value for that audience. However, this value is strengthened by determining which benefits are most important, how they offer differentiation, and proof to support your claims.
Futurecurve outlines a number of positive outcomes of undergoing this process to create a value proposition. To name a few, companies gain a clear profile of buyer personas, an understanding of what offerings to take to market, and evidence on how they deliver value. For more insights on creating a value proposition, you can check out Futurecurve’s book “Selling Your Value Proposition: how to transform your business into a selling organization.”
With these tools, you can ensure that you’re creating a strong value proposition that speaks to your customers and their needs. For examples of B2B value propositions, check out our blog The Top 10 B2B Value Proposition Examples (And How to Create Your Own).
Looking for a team to help with your company’s B2B marketing messaging? Contact us.
If you’re in marketing or sales, odds are you’ve heard of account-based marketing (ABM). It’s a method that’s been gaining popularity in the marketing industry because of its ability to deliver high levels of ROI. In fact, “companies with ABM in place generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts,” according to Marketing Profs. This type of marketing involves honing in on a few accounts and targeting them with a highly-personalized strategy.
Although ABM is a great tool for any company, small businesses stand to benefit the most. This is because “SMBs can’t afford to scatter their money across various marketing tactics and a huge pool of prospects and just hope to generate enough qualified leads to make a profit,” says Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder of Hiver. Unlike traditional lead-based marketing, ABM enables small businesses to focus all their resources on a few high-value prospects that are likely to buy.
In addition, small businesses are likely to gain internal buy-in across departments with ABM. This is important because ABM can be pricey due to personalization and a multi-channel approach. With more buy-in across the company, the budget for an ABM program can come from multiple departments.
Sound like something you’re interested in? Here’s our account-based marketing guide to get you started:
First, you’ll want to develop your Ideal Client Profile (ICP). An ICP is different from a buyer persona because it focuses on a company rather than an individual. It should include firmographic data such as company size, industry, number of employees, and estimated revenue plus unique characteristics such as technologies used, hiring trends, or external industry events. This will help you determine the criteria for your target accounts. Take advantage of your CRM or marketing automation platform to begin searching for target accounts.
ABM is different than most marketing methods because the content and messaging revolve around the specific needs of the account being targeted. It offers a highly personalized approach. For example, you could send a detailed analysis report to a company that is specific to their business. Avoid sending generic emails at all costs. Ask yourself, who am I creating content for? What content do I already have? This way, you’ll be able to find out where any gaps exist and create content accordingly.
If you’re not sure how to break the ice with a target account, it helps to mention them on a blog or social media post. Compliment them on a recent win and highlight what they did well. They’ll appreciate the praise and you’ll be on their radar because of it.
After you’ve created your content, it’s time to figure out the best way to reach your target accounts. There are a plethora of options, such as email, social media, video, website, blogs, webinars, infographics, and white papers. If you’re targeting a company that values creativity, you may want to take advantage of video to grab their attention. Or, if you’re looking to reach a tech company, a white paper may be the best way to connect with them.
In order to successfully execute your ABM campaign, there needs to be alignment between the sales and marketing teams. ABM relies on the perspective of a sales team who understands the importance of relationship building, knows how to address a business’s pain points, and has experience working to resolve them. According to Sirius Decisions, “B2B businesses with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.”
Additionally, be sure to measure the results of your ABM campaign. Hubspot recommends focusing on coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and influence. Here are some metrics you should pay attention to for each:
- Coverage: take a look at the number of target accounts you’ve identified and reached, how much custom content you’ve sent out, the number of stakeholders or key decision makers you’ve made contact with, the amount of account information you’ve gained
- Awareness: check the number of key accounts visiting your website, opening emails, reading blog posts, attending events, subscribing to a podcast or newsletter
- Engagement: focus on the amount of time key accounts are spending with your brand and whether they’re responding to marketing activities (click-through-rates, content downloads, email response rates)
- Reach: track how successful each channel was in reaching target accounts, check what percentage of campaign success is coming from your target accounts
- Influence: review how fast you were able to move target accounts through the funnel and close deals with your ABM campaign compared to previous marketing campaigns
Use this data to continue optimizing your campaigns for the greatest ROI.
We hope this account-based marketing guide gave you a better idea of how to implement ABM for your small business. When it comes to ABM, it’s all about targeting high-value accounts with highly-personalized content. If you’re looking for help with your ABM strategy, contact us.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is taking the industry by storm. In fact, according to a SiriusDecisions study, 93% of B2B marketing leaders say ABM is imperative to their strategy. Tired of creating content that no one reads and stepping on one another’s toes, marketing and sales teams have finally begun to focus on accounts they would like to win rather than single leads or general audiences.
Of course, ABM wasn’t always the rage. This type of marketing was started in 1993, when the landmark publication The One-to-One Future pushed for personalized marketing. After its introduction, audience-targeted marketing was used more and more until the phrase “account-based marketing” was finally coined in 2004 by ITSMA. As the need for inbound marketing grew (and continues to grow), ABM gained steam and vendors offering ABM solutions became more common.
From what we’ve seen in the past, we predict that ABM will go on to become more prominent as businesses work to streamline and further customize marketing tactics. That’s why we’ve compiled an extensive list of helpful account-based marketing tactics that will take you from planning to execution to measurement.
Arguably the most important step in your ABM strategy is planning your approach. With a strong foundation based on these account-based marketing planning tactics, your ABM strategy is far more likely to succeed.
Define your Ideal Client Profile
Choosing your ideal customer profile (ICP) is your most important task. Your sales and marketing teams must collaborate to ensure that the companies you will be targeting fit your solution. You’ll need to consider the firm’s firmographics data and business needs to make the right decision.
Align sales and marketing teams
Ensuring your sales and marketing teams are on the same page is the key to your entire strategy. Read Agent3 CEO Clive Armitage’s steps to ensure alignment, which includes allowing both teams to contribute ideas, choosing target accounts together, and setting up a communications process for sharing project progress as well as results.
Choose an executive sponsor
Every account-based marketing strategy needs an executive sponsor. This team member champions and guides the project in a big-picture way, ensuring that both sales and marketing teams are on board and happy. Your executive sponsor can also sweep in and mediate an issue, close a deal, or offer valuable advice about any tough decisions you may need to make.
Organize account data in your CRM solution
Before you begin your ABM execution plan, your CRM data is probably lead-based or has some serious coverage gaps. You’ll need to change from lead-based reporting to a measurement structure based on accounts and contacts. This process will take some work, but there are some hacks you can use, courtesy of industry professional Lauren Frye.
Gather and maintain clean data
Companies now have access to a lot of data—but if it isn’t clean, it’s worthless. Review existing data, checking for duplication and old data, and updating mission-critical fields like company name, email address, contact name, and title. Communicate standardized data entry requirements to your teams to avoid the need for cleanups in the future.
Identify buying signals and other data
Determine the signs that indicate a company might be in the market for your product. These triggers will mark the addition of a company to your target list or the start of a new phase in your ABM marketing campaign. Depending on your product, triggers range from office moves to leadership change, and can be automated.
Commit to target account pursuit channels
Once you lock in on target companies, decide which channels you’ll use to reach them. Consider various factors, like company culture and buyer personas. For technology startups, try Twitter mentions and targeted blog posts. For established corporations, segmented email campaigns and personalized direct mail may be more helpful.
Targeting and Engagement Tactics
Now we get to the bread and butter of account-based marketing tactics: engagement. This is the stuff marketers love—creating innovative content that strikes a chord with targeted accounts.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Tag target accounts on social
Ninety percent of businesses use social media for marketing, meaning your target accounts are probably on a few channels themselves. Monitor social channels carefully, retweeting articles created by or mentioning the target account and tagging them when appropriate. Your target account is sure to notice and appreciate the amplification.
Feature target accounts within content
Everyone likes to be heralded as an expert. Next time you’re writing a blog post, use a target account as an example of an innovative industry leader. Once you have released the blog post, tag them on social channels to be sure they—and their extended network—get a look at your work.
Conduct a mini-survey
Ask a target account employee or leader to answer a mini-survey or interview for a blog post you’re creating. This win-win-win account-based marketing tactic will draw attention to your business, flatter your target, and provide you with research for a blog post.
Create a “State of” report or case study
In a similar vein, you can create an extended report about a target customer’s industry. You may either use the target account as an example, asking for interviews or advice, or you can use the report as a way to let your target account know that you’re an expert in their field who knows exactly what product might help them out.
Host a podcast series
If you’re looking for other content formats that will draw your target accounts in, branch out with a podcast. Create a specific theme and invite guests from your target accounts to weigh in with their industry tips and tricks. Be sure to follow up with the finished product—in shareable format so the interviewee will forward it to his or her boss.
Send personalized direct mail
Direct mail has a bad rap, but actually, it has a response rate thirty-six times higher than that of email. For the best results, personalize your direct mail (a classic account-based marketing tactic) and make sure the image is out-of-the-box and fun. This guide from direct mail guru enthusem will get you started.
Ship out gift boxes
If you have the cash to spare, personalized gifts are an excellent way to establish a connection with your target account. Since your gift recipients will almost certainly read your note to see who the gift is from, take the opportunity to include a personal note that shows you know their business needs. (Just make sure the gift is one they will really enjoy.)
Deploy retargeted social ads
Retargeted social ads allow you to send your ads directly to a list of targets—as long as those targets are connected to their social accounts by their work emails or company. Given that the click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10 times higher than the CTR of a typical display ad, it’s worth the risk. Check out this HubSpot guide for pointers.
Create personalized landing pages
We all know that personalized content yields better results. Personalized landing pages are a great way to drive even more leads. You can customize based on company—or the individual—level, using information from past visits, browsing history, in-session behavior, and third-party data to encourage more clicks.
Host sales dinners
Whether you’re hosting a one-on-one dinner or a small network cocktail gathering, you’ll find that salespeople rarely turn down free food and drinks. One thing: make sure your event is unique. Steak dinners are ordinary, but dinner at a cinema and restaurant combo? Legendary.
Run a roadshow
Personally contact target accounts to arrange your stops and before the event, ramp up excitement with hashtags and email campaigns so you’ll have a sizeable audience. Combine your spectacular roadshow presentation with a less salesy account-based marketing tactic, like a dinner, to even out the pitch. You’ll prove your product’s value and create a strong, trust-based relationship with your target account, ultimately encouraging future engagement.
Source: B2B Marketing
Sponsor an event
Sponsoring an event that a target account cares about or will be attending is a sure way to gain entry into their hearts (and wallets). Whether you choose to make a public donation to their favorite nonprofit or provide free DJs for their rockin’ holiday party, you’ll catch their attention and their admiration, which might lead to a sale.
Participate in or host a roundtable
Most companies makes it public knowledge which industry conferences they’ll be attending. Once you know some of your target accounts will be at a certain location, try to attend a roundtable featuring one of your targets. There’s a good chance you’ll make strong connections and that other target accounts may be in the audience listening.
Measurement and Reporting Tactics
Measurement and reporting are vital to your ABM strategy. After all, how will you know whether your strategy is succeeding if you don’t measure your results? Here are the top measurement and reporting account-based marketing tactics for post-engagement use.
Track account coverage
You need to ensure all your target accounts are being engaged, and engaged thoroughly. Track factors such as the amount of research done on accounts, the number of accounts that have been engaged, and the number of contacts engaged within an account. Bizible offers a simple chart that may help guide your definition of success.
Trace account awareness
This metric can be measured by the amount of web traffic from targeted accounts, as brand Integrate notes, or views on social media ads. Though simple, account awareness is an important metric. Awareness is the first step in the customer journey—and an immediate precursor to engagement.
Measure account engagement
Ensure you track all relevant engagement metrics, including items like responses to personalized webpages, CTR on social ads, and event attendance. Though there are many opinions about ideal metrics, Engagio suggests that teams measure an account’s total minutes responding to marketing activities and engaging with sales teams.
Review conversion rates
In the planning stages, you will have determined what counts as “account conversion.” This is a vital item to measure, as it will determine your ultimate success. Because it is such an important metric, conversion rate is certainly one to review with your executive sponsor, who may have pointers regarding the best definition of this critical metric.
Gather results in regular reports
With ABM, regular reports are vital. Reports should be short and simple—something that employees can skim through and comprehend. The more obvious it is which areas need improvement, the more quickly your teams can take action. As B2B software brand Bizible notes, ABM measurement software can simplify the reporting process.
Communicate your results
At the end of the day, communication is key. Be sure that sales and marketing teams are sharing reports, making constant changes to improve their strategy, and keeping their eyes on the goals ahead.
Whether you are planning your ABM strategy or preparing a final report, we hope this list of account-based marketing tactics will be helpful well into 2019. And if you need help setting up any part of your strategy, we’re here to help.
Interested in learning more about ABM? Check out our blog post 5 Effective Account-Based Marketing Strategies For B2B Companies.
We’ve all been there. You walk into a department store — just to browse. Within moments, an overzealous salesperson is pressing you to buy something that you’ve barely glanced at. Immediately put off, you’re scanning the store for the nearest exit.
This logic translates to B2B companies. A business can claim, “oh that person just wasn’t the right fit,” but HubSpot asserts that 50% of leads are qualified — just not ready to buy. For this reason, it’s imperative your company understands the difference between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).
An MQL is someone who meets the demographics of your ideal customer profile — the marketing term for this is “buyer persona” — and has shown meaningful engagement with your company. Examples of an MQL include signing up for your newsletter or downloading your ebook because these actions show initiative from the prospect to educate themselves on your industry.
An SQL is someone who meets the demographic criteria and has completed an action(s) that translates to, “I want to speak with sales.” Respond to actions that indicate the prospect wants to know how your company solves their problem– downloading a pricing guide or requesting a demo are just two examples that signal this type of interest.
What differentiates an MQL from an SQL will differ from company to company. The important thing is that marketing and sales are on the same page for how both are defined. Lead scoring makes this possible by enabling companies with a systematic way of differentiating the two.
What is lead scoring?
Lead scoring is the practice of assigning a point value to individual leads according to the information they’ve given you and how they’ve interacted with your website. This score helps your team prioritize leads by putting them into different buckets — MQLs, SQLs, and neither.
How you define what triggers an MQL versus an SQL will change based on the needs and capabilities of your company. For example, if your marketing strategy is mature and you receive thousands of MQLs a day consider increasing the amount of engagement someone must show before triggering that response.
With so many moving parts it can be hard to even know where to start. Luckily, HubSpot has created a lead scoring algorithm to make the process simpler. You can use the software to help with manual lead scoring or you can leave all the heavy lifting up to HubSpot.
Congratulations — you’ve sorted your MQLs from your SQLs! Now you must customize an approach for both types, but how?
The Right Way to Follow up With MQLs:
Don’t be the department store salesperson. MQLs are still just browsing and forcing them to the next stage will only drive them away. At the same time, it’s okay to reach out directly. Consider this part of your lead nurturing strategy. According to Forrester Research, “companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.”
Be confident knowing that someone who triggers an MQL notification knows what your company does and is trying to learn more. Reach out with the goal of mutually assessing the fit of the potential partnership while providing them with educational resources. There are many different ways to do this, but I’m only going to provide you with two options to start.
The first option is to send a welcome email when someone first triggers an MQL notification in your system. Here’s an example from HubSpot:
Notice this person encourages the prospect to continue the relationship by providing a clear way to access additional information.
How do you nurture a lead between the welcome email and when they move to the SQL stage? The most important thing is to stay fresh in their minds. Instead of sending a response to a particular action, consistently provide content they would find interesting. Here is an example:
Research consistently shows that “a person needs to know you, your reputation, and your product or service before he/she is willing to make a purchase.” Doing this requires consistently being in the lead’s line of sight. Forwarding content to your MQLs is the simplest way to do this.
Side note: Notice that both emails are individually addressed and appear to come from a real person. Personalizing these points of contact creates the framework for building relationships — which results in MQLs converting to SQLs.
The Right Way to Follow up With SQLs:
Finally, the lead is ready to hear your pitch. Your sales team’s job is to connect the dots for the customer and fill in knowledge gaps. They want to be sure that your product will address their pain points. Simply asking them, “so how did you like that ebook?” won’t cut it. Build the conversation around an action(s) they completed which triggered the SQL notification. For example, let’s say the action was a free demo request. Shoot them an email like this:
There are two key things to notice here:
- Expectations for the call are set beforehand: This puts the lead at ease with the process. It also helps them prepare accordingly for the call.
- The goal is to help the customer: This is a sales call, but coming from a stance of trying to help them will allow you to understand their needs and how your company fits with them.
The Bottom Line:
The difference between an SQL and an MQL is murky. That’s why it’s imperative for your company to create a universal definition that sales and marketing stick to. Creating a definition strikes the perfect balance between educating leads and closing a deal.
Moving someone from the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey to the conversion stage can feel like you’re walking on eggshells — one false move and the lead is gone. That’s why it’s important to have experts on your side to optimize your marketing strategy. Contact us to learn how we can help you develop a strategy to reach your business growth goals.