The Marketing Strategist:

Rapport, Relevance, Resonance, and Results: The 4Rs of Account Based Marketing

May 16, 2013

By Rahul Koul, Director of Strategic Marketing, Wipro Technologies

With the growing focus on customer centricity, key account or Account Based Marketing (ABM) can help companies sustain collaborative and profitable relationships with their most important customers. ABM is defined as a process for treating a client company as a market of one. It can yield a high rate of return on marketing investments. In addition, it helps to retain clients, change perceptions, increase revenue, and attract new clients.

Organizations in the IT, services, and consultancy sectors particularly will experience the great benefits from ABM, due to the complexity of the value propositions, long sales cycles, and vast size of client organizations. Microsoft, for instance, was able to use ABM to dramatically increase its account reach and account penetration for enterprise accounts, which drove high levels of client satisfaction and increased marketing’s stature in the organization.

From my own experience, I’d like to suggest four critical success factors of an ABM program that I define as the 4R framework: rapport, relevance, resonance, and results.

Rapport (Co-ownership)

ABM can’t be run completely by marketing. Sales has to join in. And unless ABM is built into the account planning process, it will not be successful.

Relevance (Messaging)

ABM is not mass marketing. It is one-to-one marketing. A deluge of messages will confuse the client. The account team must work together to ensure that the client receives relevant, clear, cogent, and consistent content, and that the team has the value propositions targeted at specific individuals within the account.

Resonance (Delivery)

Resonance is usually used in the context of messaging. I use it to refer to solutions that resonate with—that is, address the goals of—a range of decision-makers. An objective of ABM programs is to penetrate more deeply into accounts. That means dealing with stakeholders who have different needs. For instance, today, IT purchase decisions are increasingly being made jointly by the business side as well as the IT side. It is therefore essential to communicate the decision in the language of each stakeholder. Your message should convey both the business benefits and the technological benefits.

Results (Measurement)

The most difficult part of ABM is often having the right measurements in place to monitor program effectiveness. Customer satisfaction, revenue and opportunity growth, and profitability are the main metrics to measure the program’s ROI. But other metrics such as an increase in a client’s knowledge about your solutions, improved perceptions about your company, and an increase in client interaction and participation in your meetings or programs are also important to measure.

The growing popularity of ABM shows that it is one of the most effective approaches in B2B marketing. It helps companies build long term, strategic relationships, boost profitability, shorten sales cycles, and improve revenue growth. These hard-to-ignore benefits have persuaded many services companies to embark on ABM programs.

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