12 Creative Account-Based Marketing Examples (and Their Effectiveness)
There are a lot of overplayed ABM tactics. And the bigger your deals, the more important it is to stand out and give value, especially with so many decision-makers.
I see around 7 decision makers a lot, but I’ve even seen up to 50. That’s bigger than most standard conference rooms — just to close that one deal you’ve got a mini convention going on, and that’s not even including your team.
Ok, so how do we deal with this? I suggest using a tiered approach to ABM, and copying some of the examples that have worked well for me.
The three tiers of ABM
The best way to do ABM is a three-tiered approach. Tier 1, called “Strategic ABM,” is a 1:1 approach to market to your top 5-15 accounts, with deals over $1M. Think absolute attention to detail.
Tier 2, “Scale ABM,” is a one-to-few approach with the next 50 or so accounts, with deals between $100k-$1M. There is still attention to detail here, but you’re investing over a broader range.
Tier 3, “Programmatic ABM,” is one-to-many and this is where you approach a larger number of accounts, often around 700 but varying greatly. These accounts generally involve deals between $25k-$100k, and the key here is to make sure you’re not including too many accounts.
The wisdom to remember: if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. Your messaging has to be specific and refined enough that it is still worth the work to include each Tier 3 account in your ABM.
Getting creative with ABM to be more effective
You came here for inspo on how to do account-based marketing creatively; I hope to deliver on that. There are tons of ways you can do it, but I have some personal favorites.
What are creative ABM examples? The most creative ABM examples depend on how many accounts are being marketed to, but some of my favorites include:
- Sending personalized videos to many accounts via Vidyard (Tier 3)
- Creating personalized bobbleheads for some of our top accounts (Tier 2)
- Giving a decision maker a complete set of their favorite author’s books (Tier 1)
Where we’re heading
Since each ABM strategy or “play” you use really depends on who you’re trying to reach, and how big the deal is, I think it’s best to go through my suggestions for creative ABM examples like this:
- Tier 3: 1-to-many ABM
- Tier 2: 1-to-few ABM
- Tier 1: 1-to-1 ABM
Tier 3: 1-to-many ABM
1-to-many ABM is the right tier for accounts that matter to you, but aren’t the biggest of deals. These are accounts you want to grab or keep that still need some special care to win.
Tier 3 includes a large number of accounts, so your attention isn’t so specific to each one. Instead, you’re making sure you’ve got a message that is just broad enough to fit your target accounts without it being so broad that it isn’t relevant to them (or, worse, they don’t care).
Send them something using Sendoso
People love thoughtful gifts. Sendoso is not your only option to help people who like free stuff like you, too, but it’s really good at what it does.
Sendoso isn’t a play, but it gives you access to tons of plays in the same field. Sendoso, simply put, is a sending platform — you don’t have to spend as much time putting packages together.
Through Sendoso, you’re able to send almost anything — online or through the mail — to the person you’re trying to reach at a target account.
For Tier 3, this means you can send swag, informational content of value, you name it. They can even repack Amazon orders, add a handwritten note, and send it off to the recipient.
One of the best things about Sendoso is that if you have your own promotional materials, they’ll store it in their warehouse for you so the materials are ready to be packed when you say the word.
Everyone knows ads are great. If they weren’t, the Super Bowl would lose a good chunk of its viewers, and companies wouldn’t bother investing in creating those crazy-good ad spots.
ABM ads just have a narrower audience. Using an intent vendor like Demandbase or Bombora, you can track when a target account is surging with your key terms and know to start showing them ads.
These ads are specific, clear, and help your target account understand the value you can bring to them.
If your goal is to get them to make a meeting, the call to action is “get a meeting.” Pretty simple.
An important piece to remember is that you don’t want them to keep seeing ads requesting a meeting once they’ve scheduled a meeting. Don’t bother them. Make sure once they convert on ads, they don’t see those ads anymore.
Once the ad has helped you get their attention, nurture that budding relationship with content or outreach from your SDR, or drop them into your Eloqua, Hubspot, or Marketo.
Personalized videos are great because they have a higher click-through rate than other videos. Promotional videos can be boring, but if you see your own name in the thumbnail, you’ll click.
Vidyard, which is super popular for 1:1 ABM, is also great for Tier 3, especially with their Chrome extension. You can easily send personalized videos, and they’re easy to scale, too.
To understand Vidyard, picture a bunch of scenes, each with your name, your target account’s rep’s name, both company logos… It’s interesting and unique for each recipient.
All you have to do is upload a list with the right information, and you can send it to 1,000 or even 10,000 people with Marketo.
With your CTA at the end to get people to schedule a meeting or look at more content, you’ve got a cool, creative video that ties back to your company and reminds them of your value.
Tier 2: 1-to-few ABM
Tier 2 is the sweet spot for those accounts that are pretty important, but not quite the crème de la crème. You want to demonstrate their importance to you, and it can’t be generic.
With a much smaller number of Tier 2 accounts than your one-to-many approach, you can take more time to make sure each account is seeing a great example of your company’s interest.
Let them choose what you send
Sendoso Choice takes advantage of the sending platform capabilities that work well for Tier 3 accounts, and makes it more specific so the recipient feels even more valued.
Recipients can choose from a range of personalized bundles determined by the sender, but the sender still doesn’t have to worry about putting together and sending anything.
Giving them choice means they’re more likely to be pleased with the result, which is a win-win for everyone.
PFL and Alyce are also good choices for a great, versatile sending platform.
There’s something about cupcakes that people just love. Using a sending platform, you can take advantage of that with all of your Tier 2 accounts, without having to find or coordinate 50 packages of a dozen cupcakes each.
If your logo and your recipient’s logo is on the box of 12 cupcakes, when they inevitably invite their coworkers to have one you just gave them a great conversation topic: you.
Now you’ve got visibility. But don’t waste it! You can’t just send cool, creative stuff. You have to provide value, so include something relevant, like written content.
This could be case studies showing what you’ve done for similar companies, a guide with expertise in the field of what you do, or even account-specific content.
If it’s relevant to their business, there’s incentive for them to read it.
Interestingly enough, socks are a highly requested swag item, so cool socks can be a great idea.
If you figure out who’s on the team and everyone gets a pair, the process of passing them out can help start a conversation about your company without anyone from your brand present.
Another great conversation starter: bobbleheads (and other display items)
Who doesn’t want their own bobblehead? There are companies out there that can make a bobblehead with just a headshot, and that’s usually easily found online.
You could let decision-makers know that they can pick up their bobblehead at a convention you think they’ll likely be at, which brings them to you and offers a conversation opportunity.
Even if they’re not present or decide not to come get their bobblehead, you can initiate a conversation by asking where to send it.
If that bobblehead has your logo on it, and it lands on their desk, you gain two things: first, they see your logo constantly (subliminal messaging for the win!) and second, every time someone notices it, a conversation just started about your company.
Send a guide
If you have expertise to share, putting together a guide is a great idea. You’re proving your value to your target account, and showing them how much they would have to do if they didn’t have your help.
It’s simple, and also crazy effective. Something that works great for both demand gen and ABM.
This one’s nice because the thing of value that you’re providing is coming directly from you. They say yes to breakfast with a few other executives, and you get an hour to build trust.
Doing breakfast, rather than lunch or dinner, has a unique advantage. Where do you go after breakfast? Work.
So you send them off after breakfast, and when they sit down at their desk they’re still thinking about the nice time they had, and how much they liked the people they talked to… Score.
No one wants to feel like they’re in a timeshare presentation. Don’t oversell. You’re trying to establish a relationship with your target account.
Tier 1: 1-to-1 ABM
Everyone likes Tier 1 because it’s fun. You get to do specific research, careful planning, and be extra-creative.
The relationships you’re trying to build are of great value to you, and you want them to know just how great your company is and how much value they will get from you.
Tier 1s are the most important part of the conversation that should be happening between sales and marketing. Accounts that need more attention should be identified in all tiers, but especially tier 1.
Once you know where to focus your attention, research. Does the CFO you’re trying to reach have a passion they share on social media? Is there something you noticed in their office?
How can you get their attention in a positive way? Think carefully about what the best play might be to get the meeting or reach another goal.
Chocolate and wine (or another thing they love)
This one is great because it is something that can be shared, or enjoyed over a long period of time. With a handwritten note asking for a meeting (how great does “chocolate and wine for 11 minutes of your time” sound?) you could grab the attention of a lot of people.
Especially when you let them know what’s coming beforehand so they get excited, and then include something of value (like written content) you’re not just sending something cool.
Things besides chocolate and wine that I’ve seen have included unique-looking stress balls and relevant case studies sent to a CFO who loved stress balls, and all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books (plus a guide to ABM) sent to a key decision-maker who tweeted about how he loved Gladwell.
The “Find your Face” play
This one is pretty cool, I think. The idea is to take advantage of a summit or convention booth to help you reach those Tier 1 people, invite them to come and then start a great conversation.
All you do is get their headshot off the internet, blow it up, and put in the booth. Let them know that if they come find their face, they could get a prize — $25 Amazon gift card, maybe a bigger prize, or a grand prize like Beats headphones.
Even if they aren’t at the summit or don’t make it to your booth, chances are a coworker or someone they know will pass by and could see their face. A text or tweet later and you’ve got an in to that relationship.
This goes back to the guide from Tier 2. Where Tier 3 might get some information and Tier 2 gets the whole book, Tier 1 gets the next cherry on top.
Put their logo on the cover, and inside include testimonials from companies like them. To make it an even more human approach, since you’re trying to create a relationship, information about the rep on their account with their contact information and interesting details about them (not stuffy salesperson details) is a great idea.
Buy a Billboard
Are you ready for one of the craziest (yet successful) ABM plays out there?
Buy a billboard.
But the billboard you bought just *happens* to be directly across the street from your target account.
And you’re talking right to them. You’re not talking to traffic on the street. You’re saying “hello, company we want to work with so much that we’re publicly declaring our love for you.”
Okay, maybe not love, but perhaps that famous John Cusack scene in Say Anything was trying to teach the world about ABM this whole time.
How to move forward with this information
One of the big questions people have when they’re looking for examples of good ABM is how to create good content for their ABM.
If you already have content for demand gen, there’s probably a quick and easy way to make that work for ABM — think of the guide example. Tier 1 and 2 got the guide, and Tier 3 got the guide, personalized and with extra information of use.
Uberflip is great for a content hub — the first thing a target account sees could be a personalized thumbnail of their specific rep holding a whiteboard with “Hi, [name]!”
With a call to action like “talk to Brett now!” and Brett’s face easily visible, you’re making it easy and personal for a meeting to be scheduled.
Then you’ve got tools like Vidyard to help you easily create personalized videos, and lots of options if you want to send attention-grabbers and information packaged physically or virtually.
Regardless of what plays appeal to you and what strategies you want to try, the most important thing to remember is that you’re trying to build a relationship, so really take the time to care about the people in those target accounts.
You have to become a trusted advisor and help your target accounts see you as providing value in a likable, human way.
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