steps in creating account based marketing strategy

How To Develop An Account-Based Marketing Playbook

This post will help you develop an account-based marketing playbook. You can also download our collection of ABM playbook templates in the ABM Resource Center. See below. In this post, we dive into the strategy, how you can set your ABM goals, and define your ABM Playbook. In a separate post, we will provide some ABM Use Cases as examples.

It’s generally accepted that B2B marketing is becoming  Account-based marketing (ABM).  According to research by healthlaunchpad and HIMSS conducted late last year, 75% of healthcare technology marketers reported using ABM in 2021, up from 67% in 2020. The research further indicated that 35% of the healthtech Marketers consider ABM as among their most effective strategies. However, the main challenge many firms face is how to develop an Account-based Marketing Strategy.

In this post, I will review the Account-based Marketing Strategy approach we have developed and successfully implemented across multiple clients.

I hope that you will find this approach to ABM Strategy development both simple and systematic.

The Account-based Marketing Playbook Process

steps in developing account-based marketing strategy

We have refined our own account-based marketing playbook process at healthlaunchpad. This is explained in this post that details the steps in the process.

In this post, I want to help you develop your account-based marketing strategy document. We call this the ABM Playbook. This is a simple document that turns your Account-based Marketing strategy into a very specific plan.

If you would like to see a sample of an ABM Playbook, please email me. We don’t share these widely but if you ask nicely 😉 we may send you one.

It makes a good template you can use yourself for your account-based marketing strategy.

Writing Your Account-based Marketing Strategy Playbook

In creating an ABM Playbook for clients, we have developed a simple and systematic process to develop their account-based marketing strategy. In each step, we collaborate with them to create a single deliverable. Each subsequent account-based marketing strategy deliverable is built on the last one. If you want to do this yourself, you can download our ABM strategy templates through the ABM Resource Center. See below. The blog post on ABM Use Cases will give you some ideas too.

We typically do this as a project with clients over 4-5 weeks, creating a deliverable or two each week.

Step 1 – Set Your ABM Goals

You must set very clear and specific goals for your ABM goals. And you have to be hyper-realistic about what you will accomplish with ABM when you get started.

We use the SMART goal framework as this focuses everyone on a specific goal and how it will be achieved. The deliverable is a 1-page SMART Goal sheet. This one of the ABM strategy templates.

Step 2 – Define Your Ideal Customer Profile and The Buyer Collective.

After setting your ABM goals, the next is helping our clients define their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

This is an addressable market segment that you want to target. This short video post, explains how to do that.

The output is a tight definition of the best-fit customers in a way that enables you to develop a Target Account List (TAL). 

The second part of this is defining the Buyer Collective, i.e. the people involved and their roles in the buying process.

Step 3 – Create Your Personas and Their Buyer Journey

After defining your Buyer Collective, the next stage of your ABM strategy creation focuses on creating personas. Typically, we focus on the champion and a key influencer.

We find that a simple 1-page description of the individual’s title, roles, and typical responsibilities suffice. You can download a template here.

The key thing is to define the buyer’s journey. In order to do this, we borrow heavily from the brilliant book by Marcus Sheridan, They Ask You Answer.

We feel that the most important thing to focus on are the questions the buyer has at each step in the journey.

Step 4 –  Create Your Content Plan

Once you have defined the questions the buyer has at each step in the journey, creating a content plan is simply a matter of answering each question with a piece of content.

For example, if a buyer’s question is: “What are the factors that go into a well-designed solution?” You then will want to create a Buyer’s Guide.

For instance, for one of our clients, Bluestream Health, we are targeting developers of HIT apps. We know they are looking for ideas on what to look for in a virtual care solution, so we developed a white paper for developers specifically on this. It has been very successful. What other ABM use cases can you come up with?

Step 5 – Build Your Engagement Plan

There are many ways to do this. We have developed a proprietary engagement plan that maps the buyer’s journey. If you would like to see it please email me. This ABM Use Case post will give you some ideas on tactics to consider in your plan.

The basic premise of any account-based marketing strategy is that buyers go through the following three stages before they engage with you:

  1. Defining the Problem
  2. Defining the Solution
  3. Researching Vendors.

They will use Search Engines, their social network, and social media before they get to you.

We help you map out their journey and determine which demand generation, digital and other tactics to use at each stage.

Step 6 – Establish a Measurement Plan

Before you are ready to put all this into a project plan, you need to agree on how you will measure the impact of your ABM Strategy. How will you measure how you are performing against your ABM goals?

There are some unique aspects to the measurement of ABM.  This post goes into detail on this.

Step 7 – Create Your Project Plan

We have created a simple framework for you in the ABM Resource Center, called the ABM Project Planner to help you plan your project. You can download it here.

Step 8 – Organize the Team

This is a critical piece. Your account-based marketing strategy will fail if there is no alignment between sales and marketing.

It is important that you identify who will be on the team and make sure that you have good representation from both sales and marketing. Ideally customer success too.

Creating The Playbook Document For Your ABM Strategy

This is relatively simple. Check out our ABM strategy template. At the end of these 8 steps, you simply take the deliverables from each step and assemble them into a single document.

Hey, presto! You have an ABM Playbook, a nice simple deliverable you can use to communicate your account-based marketing strategy.

What Can You Do As A Next Step?

  1. Check out more posts like this in the Total Customer Growth Resource Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your ABM journey.
  2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM, ABX and Total Customer Growth.
  3. Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.


Other Interesting Links:

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Adam Turinas

Adam Turinas is a long-time technology marketing leader and entrepreneur. He is the co-author of the Total Customer Growth book and founder of Total Customer Growth LLC. Adam spent two decades marketing for Dell, IBM, Bank of America, and dozens of other major marketers. In 2012 he founded, grew, and eventually sold a healthcare technology software business and then created healthlaunchpad, a leading healthtech marketing firm that teaches clients how to use ABM.