Managing your customers one by one

Make a list of your top five current customers, and another list of the top five customers you’d like to have. What is your plan to grow your current accounts and get those five others that would make such a big difference in your business? The answer may be Account Based Marketing.

According to Wikipedia, “Account-based marketing (ABM), also known as key account marketing, is a strategic approach to business marketing in which an organisation considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.”

As an example of Account Based Marketing, let’s pretend that Smith Manufacturing, a fictitious company, is one of your current customers.

Create a marketing plan around that company. Even more specifically, design a marketing plan around the person in the company that has decision-making authority. let’s say that Bill Johnson is the CEO and he decides how to spend his marketing dollars. How will you reach him, and grow his business?

Consider your current marketing strategy. Advertising, blogs, brochures, seminars aren’t going to make much difference to Smith Manufacturing, they are already a customer. It’s the same concept as marketing to a broad audience, but much more specific. What are the problems that Smith Manufacturing has and how can you solve them? More specifically, identify the things that make Bill Johnson’s life difficult and make a plan to help him. This is about establishing relationships. Think outside of the box.

If the last time you were in Bill’s office you talked about his son’s passion for football, think of him the next time you can get tickets to a match and treat him and his son to a game. Send e-mails about the latest technological advancements that may help them. No, it’s not your job to help him with his supply chain or business problems. But, the more he trusts you, the more he will spend with you.

Let’s use another fictitious company, “The Bank”, as an example of a company that you’d like to call one of your customers. You have learned that John Taylor is their manager and the one who decides how to spend his purchase dollars.

Build a marketing plan around this company and around this decision-maker. The first thing you will have to do is to make them aware of you. You might start with a series of letters, followed by phone calls and e-mail invitations to events you are holding, or blogs you are hosting. Again, think outside of the box.

Perhaps you could drop by one day and bring a selection of pastries. Ask if you could establish a drop at The Bank for needy kids for Christmas. Work on building a relationship with The Bank and John Taylor. You happened to find out that John Taylor is a vintage car enthusiast. Send him tickets or an alert about the next car show. Send him a calendar with antique cars. Be creative.

Account based marketing is about one-to-one marketing. It’s about creating relationships, growing trust and a building a working rapport. It all starts with one. You.

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