account-based marketing for manufacturers

Done right, inbound marketing nets a lot of traffic and converts a good number into leads — some qualified, some not.

To indulge in a metaphor, inbound marketing is fishing with a net. Not every fish (lead) you catch will be a keeper (qualified). Your marketing team parses through the catch, passes the qualified ones onto sales to close and throws the rest out to sea.

This is at the core of what we do here at Gorilla. We help manufacturers build a consistent pipeline of online revenue by attracting the right web traffic, converting them into leads and nurturing them until they’re ready to buy. We use a net to catch the right type of fish, and enable their sales team with the tools they need to close the deal.

And we’ve seen a lot of success with this approach for manufacturers. In fact, this bioplastic material science startup generated 92 highly qualified leads in just 10 months with an inbound approach. Inbound —casting a net— is a great way to reliably catch, convert and close the right leads on an ongoing basis.

But if you’re already catching a continual stream of leads with inbound, it might be good to supplement your catch by spearfishing. Or, to reel the fish metaphor in, try account-based marketing (ABM) on for size.

ABM is like fishing with a spear. It’s a laser-focused marketing strategy that concentrates on identifying, engaging, nurturing and closing a list of hand-selected accounts that perfectly align with your company’s needs. Inbound is about building the framework to attract qualified leads to you — ABM is about actively tracking them down.

You first work with your sales team to develop a list of companies that exactly match your ideal customer profile (ICP). Next, you gather contact information for the key stakeholders within each company you’re targeting. Think of everyone who might be involved in the purchase decision: Design engineer, plant manager, procurement manager, C-Suite executives, etc.

Then you run a hyper-targeted campaign to turn each stakeholder into an advocate for your company. The ultimate goal of ABM is to land these target accounts and expand them into profitable and long-lasting customers.

What we’re talking about here isn’t cold calling prospect after prospect, praying one bites. ABM is a highly targeted outbound approach that relies heavily on your knowledge of your target audience’s pain points and ability to produce high-quality educational content.

In this post, we’re going to cover:

  • The reason ABM is making a comeback for B2B companies.
  • Why ABM is a good strategy for manufacturers.
  • Ideas for implementing ABM for your company.

Why now? The reason ABM is making a comeback for B2B companies

Account-based marketing (ABM) is not a new idea. In fact, it’s been around about as long as people have been selling things to other companies.

So why is ABM —an old-school sales tactic— making a comeback today?

Well, because now there’s technology that allows us to target specific people with personalized ads and nurturing email campaigns.

AdRoll. Terminus. LinkedIn Ad Targeting. There are plenty of new platforms you can use to serve up hyper-targeted ad campaigns to grow awareness of your company among your target audience. There are even tools like Prospect.io that will help you find the contact information for stakeholders at each of your target companies, allowing you to send more personal messages — like sending educational content tailored to their pain points or, eventually, a request for a meeting.

In the old days, salesmen used to make a list of target companies, drive around town and give their pitch. Now we can hop online, identify companies that fit our ICP to a ‘T’ and reach key stakeholders without ever leaving our computers.

Using a mix of new technology (i.e., automated email campaigns, targeted ads) and old-school tactics (i.e., mailers, handwritten notes), you can gain awareness among stakeholders and start a conversation about how your services alleviate their specific pain points. As you build relationships with each stakeholder through empathetic and educational content, you’ll grow from being a solution to being the solution.

At this point, it’s important to make something clear: Even with new technology, the relationships you aim to build with ABM will still be hard-earned. These new tools don’t do the marketing for you — they just make it easier to automate, measure and scale your ABM efforts.

But these platforms have opened up opportunities for B2B companies to generate highly qualified leads and cultivate profitable relationships with the companies they’d most like as clients.

Why ABM is a good strategy for manufacturers

ABM is more than a buzzword or a trend — it’s a strategy that real companies have seen real success with. 96% of B2B companies say employing ABM has contributed to their marketing success, according to an ABM adoption benchmark report. And 60% attribute a revenue increase to ABM.

For manufacturers in particular —with their long sales cycles and high-value products and services— ABM poses a unique opportunity to speed up pipeline velocity and generate high-quality, high-profit leads.

  • Greater pipeline velocity so you can close deals faster

    You’re not selling $5 bracelets at a mall kiosk. Manufacturers sell highly complex solutions — and the buying decision for your services or products is not taken lightly. There are likely at least six or seven stakeholders with varying levels of involvement in the buying decision. Each stakeholder has their own priorities and pain points, which can cause the buying cycle to drag on for months.

    ABM can help speed up this process. More than half of B2B companies report greater pipeline velocity due to ABM, according to a study by SiriusDecisions.

    By earning each of these stakeholders’ trust early on with targeted awareness campaigns and helpful content geared toward their unique pain points at every stage of the industrial buying process, you have a greater chance of winning their vote during the purchase decision. And, as a result, you can close the deal faster.

  • You hand-select each company on your list — so you know each lead will be highly qualified

    The companies that make the cut for ABM exactly match your ideal customer profile (ICP), meaning they meet your criteria based on their budget, location and the accessibility of their decision makers.

These companies have been hand-selected for their potential to blossom into long-term, profitable relationships. And they do. 60% of B2B companies who implemented ABM campaigns stated that their revenue was higher due to the strategy, according to a study.

This can be attributed to two factors:

  1. The quality of the companies you choose

    Because your marketing and sales team work together to pre-qualify each company on your list, you can be confident that acquiring them as customers will be worth it. If you close the deal, you know they’ll be a good fit relationship- and budget-wise.

  2. The trust you build throughout the campaign

    In an ABM campaign, you personally address each stakeholders’ pain points head on, earning attention and trust for your company. When the purchase decision comes around, they’ll be more comfortable choosing you.

Although ABM is a labor-intensive strategy, it can have a great impact on your bottom line in terms of revenue increases from influenced accounts. And because you are targeting a finite number of companies with ABM, you can easily and accurately measure the revenue it’s generating.

While not a plug-and-chug solution, ABM is a great way for manufacturers to target, land and retain high-value accounts. By winning over each decision maker at each company, you not only have the opportunity to speed up the buying cycle, but also build more profitable client relationships.

Account-based marketing ideas for manufacturers

Before we give you a couple ideas for starting an ABM campaign of your own, there’s something we need to stress:

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy, not a string of tactics.

Anyone can blindly cold call a 100 target companies with a sales pitch — that’s not ABM. ABM isn’t just advertising. It isn’t just sending out hand-written notes.

ABM is much more holistic and deliberate than that. It’s the strategic process of identifying accounts you’d like to work with, engaging them with helpful content and building long-lasting, profitable relationships with them.

Your marketing and sales team work closely to identify a selective list of companies you’d like to work with. Use your ideal customer profile (ICP) as your guide during this process.

If you’re a metal building manufacturer, your ideal customer might be a small to medium general contractor who will bring a lot of repeat business. You’d identify a list of companies who fit this profile and gather contact information for the key stakeholders at each company.

Once you’ve identified the companies you’re targeting, you’ll need to engage them with content meant to increase awareness and address stakeholder pain points. Who your audience is and what they care about will guide your decisions about how to communicate with them. Targeted advertising campaigns, email campaigns and customized how-to videos are all good options.

The purpose of ABM is to land and expand high-value clients. To this end, your job is not done when the ink is dry on a contract. ABM is about building relationships with stakeholders before, during and after the sale.

Now onto ideas for starting an ABM campaign of your own. Here are three.

  1. Run a hyper-targeted paid media campaign

    AdRoll and LinkedIn allow you to zero ad targeting in on the specific people you need to reach. While display ads aren’t the most personal method of communication, they are a great way to get your company’s name in front of decision makers.

    Offer something helpful. We run ads to our Industrial Marketing Guide — a guide for B2B manufacturers on how to grow business online. The key here is to offer something helpful that relates to the audience you’re targeting.

  2. Set up automated email nurturing

    If you identify 50 companies that would be a good fit, and you have the contact information for the decision makers you need to reach, you can generate a series of automated emails.

    While these emails are automated, they shouldn’t be impersonal. A canned email will get a canned response — or no response at all.

    Try to be as specific, helpful and educational as possible. Offer something of value, like a case study, guide or even a blog post written specifically for their company and their pain points. Once, we recorded an eight-minute long video geared toward only the CFO. It took time, but it got us in the door for a meeting.

    Three or so should suffice — you don’t want to overwhelm someone who isn’t interested.

  3. Add a personal touch with mailers and hand-written notes

    Emails are easy to automate, but nothing stands out like a handwritten note. It shows you put thought into the communication and that goes a long way when you’re trying to cut through the clutter.

If you write letters to more than one person in a company —the plant manager, lead engineer, VP of sales, etc.— assume they’re going to compare your message. Tailor your letter to their specific pain points. The engineer cares about the technical aspects of how your solution works. The CFO cares about the bottom line. The CEO cares about efficiencies, growth and public image. The VP of sales cares about, well, sales.

Sure, custom direct mailers and letters take a little more time, but the impact they will have is well worth it.

As part of a comprehensive marketing plan, ABM can help manufacturers capture and retain high-value clients. If you’re ready to have a conversation about how ABM fits into your lead generation strategy, we can help.

At any scale, budget and timeline, ABM empowers industrial companies with the framework they need to seek, engage and close long-term, profitable accounts. Let’s start with a three-month trial. We’ll evaluate your industry and develop a plan to spearfish your ideal clients right out of the water. Request a consultation to get started.

Build a consistent inbound pipeline of qualified leads

Our Tactical Guide to Industrial Lead Generation will teach you how to attract, engage and convert ideal-fit prospects into real leads, move them into your sales funnel and measure results.

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