How to Create an ABM Playbook For Healthcare
In this post, I will describe how we create an ABM Playbook. This is our method for defining your account-based marketing plan. This is typically done over 4-6 weeks through multiple collaborative workshops with our clients.
These workshops are where we learn about your business and share ideas, insights, and experiences from other projects. We translate this collaboration into the ABM Playbook.
The first step in the ABM Playbook is defining clear goals. We start by understanding the issues you face in your business, your aspirations, and the external and internal barriers to achieving them. Then we help you to define high-level goals for the current and next year. In addition, we will define a clear 90-day ABM goal. We typically use the SMART goal framework for this.
This blog post includes a video that will help you understand this better and provides an example of a SMART goal.
ICPs and Best-Fit Customers
If we start with a clean slate, the process begins by understanding which market segments you are addressing. We help you prioritize which segments to focus on and how to define the characteristics of each segment in a way that is relevant to your business. We can also help you size the opportunity represented by each segment.
Lastly, we work with you to define what a Best-fit Customer looks like for your business. This art and science. The art part is to define the qualities that help you recognize a best-fit customer. The science part is how to score these so that you can target marketing at these more precisely.
Personas and Buyer Journeys
There is a great deal of debate about the value of Personas. I believe they are a critical part of your ABM Playbook if you create them using an ABM mindset. There are several steps to creating a good ABM Persona.
First is defining the buyer collective of your best-fit customer. These are the champions and influencers who are involved in the process of buying your solution. The trick is to prioritize these in order of importance. We recommend trying to limit yourself to four personas. Too many personas can make it very confusing when creating your content and engagement strategies (below).
Next, for each of the four personas, we find a real person on LinkedIn who represents a persona. This makes them much more real. Based on their profile, we outline their role, responsibilities, and background information. We include their role in the buying process.
Now for their Buyer Journey. Many firms use Awareness/Consideration/Decision as the steps in the buyer journey. In our ABM Playbook process, we frame the buyer’s journey in terms of the steps a B2B buyer goes through, specifically:
- Problem Definition
- Solution Definition
- Vendor Evaluation
We feel that this is better for a B2B or ABM strategy than the more generic A/C/D approach.
We start by brainstorming the questions they have throughout the buying process. Here are generic questions are each stage. We create much more specific questions for each persona.
Next, for each step in the buyer journey, we brainstorm types of information they might look for (e.g., information on trends, case studies, RFP templates, buyer guides). We give some thought to keywords and key phrases they search for, and we look at available intent topics via Bombora and Zoominfo. We also determine their trusted sources of information at each stage.
The net result is a persona and buyer journey more effectively designed for ABM.
Once we have a clearly defined buyer journey, we create the content strategy. Content is as important in ABM as it is in inbound marketing. We spend so much effort on the personas’ questions at each stage of the buyer journey because we turn these into content topics.
We take the view that the role of content is to answer questions. This is based on the awesome book, They Ask. You Answer by Marcus Sheridan.
We ask our clients to prioritize which questions we feel are the most important. We then develop a content plan for 90-180 days that address those questions. Here is an example:
If you have more than four personas, your list of content topics may be unwieldy and hard to prioritize.
Engagement Strategy (Our ABM Playbook Secret Sauce)
Now we get into the Engagement part of the ABM Playbook. The Content Strategy is step 1 in this process. The next step is to define the tactical mix.
We have developed a proprietary Engagement Framework. This maps tactics along the buyer journey. As you can see in this diagram, this framework allows you to map tactics to each stage of the buyer’s journey by trusted sources, categorized into Paid, Owned, and Earned tactics.
This provides a clear and holistic view of what tactics you will need to engage and convert a customer. It also allows you to prioritize tactics. We convert this framework into a project roadmap based on the priority of tactics.
In developing this framework, we try to take into account the differences between personas. Again having too many processes makes this much harder to do well.
As we mentioned in the prior section, Earned tactics are an important consideration. We hold a separate session with our PR specialist to discuss how PR and Influencer marketing wil be used. This includes:
- Types of PR
- Which outlets and writers to pursue
- Pay-to-play options
- Key influencers
A critical issue for us to understand is our client’s sales process. This is important in developing an appropriate measurement strategy. It is also important in helping us understand what needs to happen for ABM to operationalized in your organization.
It is well-known that the single biggest reason ABM fails is a lack of alignment between sales and marketing. One of our biggest priorities in the ABM Playbook process is to foster that alignment and sense of shared ownership in the outcome.
ABM requires a different and more strategic way of marketing of measuring the impact of marketing.
- Level #1 is Revenue performance measurement. This includes deal close rates, deal size, and pipeline velocity.
- Level #2 is Marketing Performance measurement. Measures include target account engagement, the % of pipeline accounted for by ABM, and cost per opportunity.
- Level #3 are all the different Marketing Campaigns and Web performance measurements such as traffic, time on site, etc.
This interview with Ben Person from Nuvolo will give you a flavor of what’s different in how they measure the impact of ABM. The key is developing a set of KPIs that suit your business. It will take a while for you to perfect this.
The ABM Playbook (Roadmap and Plan)
Lastly, we take all the outputs from the steps above and create a consolidated document. This is very detailed and can run to 50-60 pages that dive into your goals, your market, your buyers, and their behaviors and recommend a detailed plan about how to use ABM to engage and convert them.
This includes a 1-2 year ABM roadmap, providing a vision of how you will transition into a full-fledged ABM marketer. It also includes a detailed project plan and set of priorities to get started within the next 90-days.
The ABM playbook should be a living, breathing document. You should return to it every 90-days to reflect on what is and is not working. We recommend a complete update of the ABM Playbook annually.