Ask the common screen printer that has an auto and a few manual presses what their marketing plan is, and they might answer with the following:
"We market to everyone!"
"We flyer drop the community a few times a year."
"We post Facebook ads and Google Ad Words."
"We cold-call from the yellow pages once a year."
"We have a radio commercial and use billboards."
"We send out emails to our customers via MailChimp."
"We advertise via banner ads in community booklets and websites."
Any of these sound familiar? Are any of these the secret ingredients to business success? Do any of these work better than others? The answer is yes, no, maybe, sometimes, and no marketing is worse than any type of marketing. Truth be told, every business needs a wide arrangement of marketing technique, but none of these are as specific as account-based marketing.
Heard this term before? Believe it or not, if you are in the printing industry, suppliers generally call on you via account-based marketing (ABM).
As opposed to casting with a net to find customers, account-based marketing is a form of business to business (B2B) marketing where you identify and classify your customers into key accounts by concentrating your marketing resources on those accounts, very specifically.
Let's take a closer look at how this works in our industry from a garment distributor's standpoint.
Your sales representatives from your garment distributors often use ABM. That rep is responsible for supporting you with marketing resources to help promote your business. If they help you grow your business and your brand, in return you will probably buy more blank goods from them. They may call on you weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on the size of your account with their company.
As every decorator is different, these sales reps create a unique profile for your business, whether you know it or not. Based on that profile, they deliver you different types of content.
If you specialize in construction and high-vis apparel, your sales rep might show you new lines of construction jackets that have just come out. Instead of the company blasting out generic content your sales rep sends you very specific, unique information that relates directly to your business. This targeted approach yields much higher results.
So how do you apply this account-based marketing technique to your decorating business? Here are five reasons to consider account-based marketing:
1. ABM = Efficiency
It is tremendously easier to work with 10 customers that yield $10,000 each than it is to work with 100 customers that yield $1,000 each.
With that being said, you must spend more time building a strong foundation with those 10 customers, but there becomes less of a load on your company to interact with more people.
Once you have developed those relationships, it is easier to maintain a relationship than to forge new ones from cold leads.
2. Niche-Based Production
As you move to account-based marketing, you begin to create very deep channels with customers. You learn a lot about their business, but they learn a lot about your business, in return.
As you develop a relationship and educate your customers, they bring you more business that is in your niche. Instead of the cold emails asking for items that you are not familiar with, leveraging your customer's relationship yields jobs that your shop favors to produce.
3. Simple to Track
How do you truly measure the ROI of all the marketing tactics listed above? It is really tough to do! With ABM, you have a clear list of leads, customers, sales reps, and revenue. You measure how much revenue they bring, and based on profits, you decide how much you should invest in arming your account-based marketing teams.
If you hired one sales rep and had them call on 50 key accounts, and those key accounts brought in 400 percent more revenue than they did the previous year, you can begin to create a scalable marketing plan for your business.
3. Clients Appreciate It
Let's face it, you might not be a big-wig with a global reach pumping out millions of shirts. What you do have are the power of personal relationships and human contact. Your customers appreciate working with people in your company in person because there is less of a risk of mistake when working with custom goods.
Your customers don't want to be that person responsible for messing up the entire organization's apparel order, so having personal relationships are an added benefit your customers will appreciate.
4. Creates Synergy with a Marketing and Sales Team
Like I said earlier, your marketing team (which might you) and your sales team (which might you) need to have a unified focus and vision.
Think about it like fishing in the ocean. If you are fishing with a generic net, in a part of the ocean you don't know about, for a type of fish you don't know about, you do not know what you will get when you cast your net.
By aligning the bait, tackle, map, fisherman, and type of fish you are going after, you will have much better success. Your business will respond the same way. This creates laser-focused initiatives when you market and sell to your key accounts.
5. Creates Scalable Sales
By creating an ABM program in your business, you are on the road to scaling. When you start out with your first account-based marketer, you will be implementing very narrow, rigid rituals and habits in your business. You will email a certain set of customers personally each week. Or you will go to meet with these five customers once a month. When you create a system for your business, you are also creating a system for scale.
Large companies that were homegrown with in-person sales used account-based marketing even if it was not formally called that. A good year with one salesperson grows to two or three salespeople the following year. Soon enough, you will have an entire company that supports key customers across a large region. Most large companies in this industry did not boom overnight, and it took several years of grinding with key customers and building new ones through strong relationships and personal sales.