There’s nothing prescriptive about the process. There’s as much freedom and flexibility in the tactics you use in an ABM campaign as there is in any other area of marketing. As such, B2B marketers have been getting a little crazy. Hacking, mashing and flipping traditional marketing funnel activities to concentrate on accounts rather than industries.
One of the newer areas we’ve been exploring with clients is Account-based PR. That is, having an account-based approach to what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
What is PR?
Public Relations is “the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour” according to the Chartered Institute of PR. And they should know right?
There’s a lot in there, but ultimately account-based marketing is all about trying to give your accounts a positive engagement with your brand and nudging behaviour towards sales close.
So it’s clearly a fit.
What is account-based PR?
Account-based PR is the practice of applying the traditional discipline of PR (i.e. reputation, influencing opinion and behaviour) to the ABM approach, focusing on target accounts.
Much like other areas, it involves an existing marketing methodology and adapting it for a more focused ABM approach. It doesn’t have to be, and arguably shouldn’t be fussy or complex.
Account-based PR examples
Account-based PR is still a very new concept, and we’ve been innovating with clients who live their lives in the fast lane. Here are a couple of use cases we’ve been involved with to give you a taste of our current thinking.
One approach we used with a client recently was to run a land and expand competition. A competency-based competition was created, with a stunning prize.
Individual promotion was undertaken to contacts within the client’s ABM list to ensure strong uptake from those within target organisations, although was open to all to meet compliance requirements.
After the competition was won by a deserving person, Account-based PR was used to go hyper-targeted and work to craft PR opportunities with an eye on the prize – the juicy ABM account. This profiled the winners and their award winning work in relevant press, like any traditional PR campaign would, but more importantly from an ABM perspective, within the target account’s Internal Communications and Employee Engagement teams. By publicising the team’s achievement, it raised the sense of well being within the business. The relevant internal teams were more than happy to share on their social media sites, but also share with all employees within the organisation using the intranet, staff newsletter and other tools that got the client noticed within the C Suite of the organisation.
After all, these organisation love to share great stories about their business within their business!
One approach that’s been around for decades, yet is constantly lauded by B2B businesses as being one of the most crucial marketing activities they do, is case studies.
All B2B businesses need to give comfort to prospective customers that they’ve done it before – and that they’ve done it before for a business like theirs. A well constructed case study can certainly evidence that they have done it before, and when you look at case studies through an ABM lens, you also get a different perspective on evidencing you’ve done it before for a business like theirs.
Depending on who the target account is will depend on what type of case study will resonate with them. Depending on the line of business of you and your client, you might want a case study:
- In the same industry.
- Of a similar size of a target organisation.
- In a specific region.
Here we’re talking about integrating ABM deeply into the case study process. So when you begin the process of interviewing a client to develop a new one, that this is strategic and in line with the accounts you want to onboard.
With one client, we’ve even got to the point of using specific language within the case study that speaks to what you know about a target account: the pains illustrated are the same ones isolated in research that’s been undertaken into a target account. A testimonial is provided by a contact who is a close connection to a contact within a target account, who subsequently shared the article and was kind enough to serve a neat intro.
The sky’s the limit with case studies and ultimately how deep you go with it will depend on the resource depth you have to hand, how developed your approach to ABM is and how deeply you have been able to integrate it with other areas of your marketing approach.
One interesting direction we are currently exploring is bringing an ABM approach to thought leadership placed on influential blogs or news outlets. In the same way we explored in the case studies section, depending on what is known about a particular account, you could produce specific content to place within publications that are well respected within the target account’s sector. The topic could be hand selected for its relevance to the individual circumstances of that company. Once placed, the thought leadership could be used as part of content outreach efforts and distributed across a wide range of media spanning both sales and marketing to help nurture them through the ABM buyer’s journey. This has almost limitless potential!
Although it’s still early days, we’ve certainly seen some good results from the work we’ve done in this area. We’ll follow up in due course with a more formal case study of our own once we have some firm data to evaluate. When we do, will it be an account-based one? You betcha! Until then, what other use cases can you see account-based PR? Let us know in the comments.