Account-Based Marketing During a Pandemic (COVID 19)
The viral outbreak of COVID-19 has caught most companies off guard and is not likely to let up any time soon. With global recommendations to self-isolate and avoid social gatherings, businesses all over the world begin to modify business protocols.
This article will talk about how you can keep your account-based marketing running during a pandemic. You’ll get all the information you need to make an educated decision on how to lead your sales and marketing teams.
This article will also highlight some modifiable tactics that can be used to help keep your ABM program running if employees have been forced to work from home, and so have your prospects in your target accounts.
The Reality of COVID-19
Before diving into how to keep your ABM strategy running, you must first consider how the current situation will affect the actions of others. ABM is all about being the helper to a specific need that your prospect has, and this is even more relevant during tough times such as a pandemic. So it’s completely normal that their concerns change. You must adapt to the situation both you and your target accounts are facing, and truly present yourself as the helper.
Some of the main concerns will include scarcity of money, having their health and safety put as risk, and stress about distractions because they need to take care of their family.
This is where you really need to take the human-first approach. You must be considerate about the current living and business situations people might be facing and respect that!
Please avoid trying to use the COVID19 situation to manipulate people into talking to them.
For example, using an email headline containing “Coronavirus killing your sales pipeline? Buy our…”. As clickbait because you know how concerned people are about it is inconsiderate to the people who have been seriously affected emotionally, physically and financially. That is NOT the right way to sell! It never is. This will only damper your personal and company brand. So, just don’t do it.
The reason why account-based marketing works so well is due to taking the “long game” approach and by giving so much value that when they are ready to buy, there is no one other than you at the top of their mind because you have delivered such a great experience. This is how you build long term customers, and this should be even more relevant now, during the COVID19 outbreak.
Your prospects are distracted
Already, in our hyperactive digital world, attention span has decreased and getting distracted comes with ease. During the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone who is working from home will be even more distracted due to the different work environment, them having to take care of their kids or even just being in the same room as their pet.
There are portals of distractions everywhere, and one of the worst will always be social media. People are constantly on their phones to get the latest news or to see what their friends and coworkers are doing, and even more so with the COVID 19 situation. Depending on how you choose to use social media channels, it can be an advantage or disadvantage.
Using social to engage with your prospects
During the pandemic, everyone avoids leaving the house. Although some people have good self-control and are able to limit their distractions, they are inevitable. LinkedIn is the main platform for B2B professionals, and this is why being present on social channels like LinkedIn is the best way to be present and engage with your prospects.
Leveraging LinkedIn for social selling is not just about gaining access to contacts online, but about building relationships and listening for the right moment to join the conversation so you can present yourself as a solution to a problem.
Adjusting Your ABM Strategy
You don’t necessarily need to stop your entire marketing strategy because of the COVID-19 situation, but you much adjust to what your target account’s needs are right now.
Everybody is thinking about the effects the coronavirus has on their life. This includes working remotely, social distancing, and making sure they bought enough toilet paper. They already had busy lives but this pandemic is adding in so many more plates to spin, and brings a significant emotional burden.
An adjustment is considered as it respects the needs of your prospects right now. And, while the problem your business and awesome software solves doesn’t ‘go away’, your audiences’ attention may well have.
This is definitely an interesting time to be in sales or marketing, but you have to see it as an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and find new ways of reaching your target audience and get their attention back.
Keeping Sales & Marketing Aligned
COVID-19 has forced many businesses to switch to work from home sometimes on little to no notice. And while social distancing is the right thing to do, it’s a new challenge for many businesses.
Keeping sales and marketing aligned will be one of the harder tasks, but the important message to share with your team is that we’re in this together and we’ll get through it together because chance are, the system you have for aligning your sales and marketing teams will be interrupted during this time.
This is truly the time to strengthen the cohesiveness, innovation, and growth that resides within the members of your organization. Grow to be better personally and as a team. Pull together more than you normally would, think of ideas you normally wouldn’t and get through the COVID-19 together!
Here’s how you can get things done even when you can’t physically be in the same room:
1. Centralized repository for all your content
2. Social Media Management Software
If your sales and marketing teams were already aligned and leveraging LinkedIn for social selling because as mentioned earlier, social selling is a powerful tactics sales (or marketing) teams can use to connect with their prospects on a more casual and personal level, and should really be something the sales department does regularly to engage with their accounts. you should already be using a social media management tool. But I decided to mention since I know a lot of companies are not doing it.
A 3rd party software like Hootsuite can come in handy when leveraging LinkedIn because, with exceptional alignment, marketing is able to create content for the sales rep that is relatable to their target accounts, then schedule it in the social media management software.
3. Over-communicate at every step
If your team is used to working in the same office space, you’ll soon realize how important communication is when working apart. Constant over-communicating with each other is essential at every step. COVID 19 has forced us to work from home and communicating purely via email will not cut it.
Team collaboration platforms like Slack makes it really easy to communicate between virtual meeting so both teams can keep working together. It also integrates with so many other softwares to make that communication even better. Use it to your advantage.
4. Virtual meetings
It’s important that even if you can’t see each other in person that meetings are arranged on a regular basis and frequently.
Revenue team meetings, check-in, reviews, are 100% doable and absolutely necessary thanks to software like Zoom that allow virtual meetings.
It’s not just your prospects that are distracted but also your sales and marketing teams. For a lot of individuals working at home can be very difficult. Working from home is not for everyone.
A lot of the time they don’t get distracted on purpose but if it happens frequently during the day this is time that they lose.
1. Prime your environment
Pretend this is a normal workday, and continue to do routinely tasks as you normally would. Find a space in your house that you can designate to working, and take breaks frequently. Without the in-person interactions, you might feel somewhat isolated, which is why it’s important to shift between working periods and healthy distractions like doing some stretches, taking a walk, playing an instrument or cleaning up a bit.
Making sure that all the distractions are put away is going to help so much to be productive while you are working. There are a few things I would recommend you to add your google chrome to eliminate portals of distraction during work hours.
You either use social media to your advantage or get lost into thousands of different distraction portals.
2. Track your time
Depending on your previous work history, maybe you’re used to working from home. But the reality is that many are not. As a result, the productivity spectrum ranges greatly from being really productive to being easily distracted.
You’d be surprised the amount of time someone wastes from getting distracted or works 14 hours days to “prove” they are getting things done.
Tracking time spent working and taking breaks with a tool like Toggl would help everyone get a better idea of where their time going when working remotely.
ABM Tactics During COVID-19
Live events to virtual events
Hosting live events and inviting your target accounts is a well known ABM tactic to get the conversation going. A lot of companies do lunch & learns to meet in person and the meal is provided by the company in exchange for a few hours of their time.
Although COVID-19 has us practicing social distancing, it doesn’t mean you have to stop leveraging these kinds of tactics… It just means you have to find new creative ways to make it happen.
Pro Tip: Instead of meeting in person you can do a virtual meeting and use a company like Uber Eats and they will deliver the food to their homes.
Direct mail to e-gifts
Sending direct mail is a classical ABM tactic to include in campaigns and is a great way to break through the noise. However, your prospects are most likely working from home, and not at the office.
Sending lumpy mail to someone’s home might be a little bit creepy, and I do not suggest this unless you have a great rapport with the prospect.
So how do you still include this tactic in your account-based marketing strategy? Thanks to the internet you can send virtual gifts, like e-cards!
These can be included with your marketing strategy and a consistent message should be kept along with sales outreach and marketing initiatives, like email signatures and ads relating to the e-gift.
E-gift idea #1
People of all ages use Netflix, and especially during the COVID-19 quarantine! Do some research on your prospects and craft a message accordingly. Sending an e-card for a one-month subscription is a small, thoughtful gift that will benefit your prospect and their families while they are all staying at home.
E-gifts idea 2
Does your prospect love to read? Your research should be able to tell you this! Audible credits are thoughtful and allow for a little relaxation- learning time when working from home.
What Doesn’t Change
It’s easy to get in the mindset that working from home means all life is on pause, but really it’s not. Your service still provides a solution to a problem and their problem will not magically go away. Businesses are still moving on, just modified to the COVID-19 situation. Although you may need to slightly adjust your message based on the situation we find ourselves in, you don’t need to halt all ABM activity just because people are working from home.
Can we still track anonymous website visitors?
You might be wondering if everyone is working from home rather than the office and they go on your website, will you still get notified as to the same company? And what about all your non-gated content?
Most anonymous website tracker uses the companies virtual private network (VPN) to identify from which companies they work from. Most large businesses have a VPN because it enables employees to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing were directly connected to the private network.
With that being said, tracking your anonymous website visitors whether they’re coming from ads or organically shouldn’t be a problem as long as they have a VPN.
Now is the best time to learn about your customers and really be there for them. Offer discounts or upgrade their account for free and over-deliver!
If you’re there for them they will always remember that and once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, they will advocate for your business.
So, now what?
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that is affecting people worldwide. From families, small businesses to enterprises, the devastation is present is virtally everyone’s lives. But regardless of what is happening, remaining positive through the crisis, following health protocols such as practicing social distancing will ultimately help flatten the curve and bring us back to normal.
For the time being, adjusting to situations like working from home and flexing our creative brains to continue with an account-based marketing strategy will be put to the test. Although not easy, is necessary in times like these. It’s time to truly grow as a team, as a family, and personally.
If you are new to account-based marketing and are looking for some guidance to keep your team aligned and your ABM program running, reach out to Vertex Marketing Agency for ABM consulting to get through these tough times! We offer free consultations to give tips, tricks and ideas to help with your remote ABM program.