May 1, 2019

ABM: The Tactics in B2B Life Sciences and Pharma

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ABM: The Tactics in B2B Life Sciences and Pharma

Posted by Gareth Roberts

An ITSMA survey found that over 80% of marketers who measure ROI say that account-based marketing (ABM) initiatives outperform other marketing investments, with half indicating that the “difference is significant.” Now to make that happen via ABM tactics...

A previous post on this blog covered the fundamentals of ABM, along with a step-by-step guide for B2B marketers to begin an ABM programme. In this post, we look at ABM in more depth, specifically at ABM from a tactical perspective rather than a broad/strategical perspective, focusing on actions on a day-to-day level.


Read the post → An Account Based Marketing Guide For B2B Marketers


Why ABM for B2B pharma and the life sciences?

ABM is geared for B2B. And when a sector generally appreciates the value of human interaction, with its people making business with people they trust, like within the B2B pharma and life science sectors, then it becomes almost ludicrous to think that organisations do not have established ABM programmes for new business development and marketing communications.

Higher quality leads (albeit fewer), increased revenue (from fewer clients) and a healthier pipeline (albeit long term) are all expected from this sort of programme. All objectives that, for an industry so large but with its pockets of associations, pharma and life science marketers can appreciate. ABM as a growth strategy, by gathering intelligence data, using the data to build strategic relationships (and alliances) and then drive demand, should be on every pharma and life science road map for 2019.

Now for the ABM tactics...


Account-based marketing tactics

As mentioned in part one of this ABM series, it’s easy to be pulled into the tactical elements of an ABM programme early on, bypassing the necessary research and building the strategic foundations of the programme. This is not the suggested route to campaign execution, whatever that marketing campaign may be.

But, as with any marketing plan, campaign or initiative, the tactical aspects (the day-to-day actions and specific tasks of undertaking the programme) is where progress is made.

Therefore, as a follow up from the last ABM post, and following the strategic mapping of your ABM programme, here is a list of 12 actions, tips and tactics for your ABM programme. They generally make up the tactical elements of an ABM programme where you begin to make contact with your prospects and target accounts.


1. Turn to your current customers and prospects

ABM is primarily concerned with relationships. Therefore, turn to the relationships you currently have – those will consist of customers, current prospects and other stakeholders – and look to develop those. Developing a relationship may look like taking the time out to meet in a relaxed/social setting or even provide additional services for free. Existing accounts are more profitable than new ones, so look to increase contact with them and build stronger relationships (and in the long run, sales) with those who are already acquainted with you and your organisation before anything else.


2. Create a list of targets within an organisation

If you don’t have a list of target accounts, then you cannot start communicating with your target audience. Once a suitable organisation is identified, you can access individuals and job roles using LinkedIn (as mentioned in the previous ABM post, be sure to upgrade to a premium LinkedIn account). LinkedIn will also allow you to message these prospects if you aren’t already acquainted with them. Other services are available to aid this process, such as data lists and cold emails, but without some form of consent, it can sometimes be difficult to make the first contact. Be sure to document those who you are looking to connect and build relationships with for direction and management of progress.


3. Engage with targets on social media

Use social media to your advantage. Social media – predominantly LinkedIn with a little bit of Twitter – presents an opportunity to access your target audience, determine interests and then engage. We’re talking about an informal engagement with accounts, maybe in the form of following, liking, replying etc. The goal is to make yourself known to the target account so there is familiarity when you have more meaningful engagements later on. Relationship building requires a multitude of touch points on different channels - social media is your friend.


Related insight → How to Make the Most of Your LinkedIn Profile


4. Ensure everything is personalised (or optimised for data capture/consent to allow for personalisation)

When it comes to personalisation, email marketing is probably the first port of call, where subject lines and other email elements can be personalised with the recipient’s name. There are many other personalisation opportunities available though, such as dynamic content on landing pages, images, smart CTAs and forms as well as other digital display ads that may include similar personalisation elements. Where possible, and within reason, look to personalise your marketing messages so that when your target account engages with your digital channels for familiarity, so he or she feels right at home.


5. Write educational content for each target or target organisation

If we are adopting an inbound marketing methodology for our marketing, writing content will become a critical element of the ABM programme. For content alignment, writing content directly for an organisation is a great way to ensure that the content is targeted and relevant to your target account or prospect. You will no doubt get your content seen by the target organisation, and since the content is highly relevant, the recipients are likely to take the time to consume the educational content presented. At very least, you can mention your prospects in your educational content.


Related insight → Sales Processes Have Changed to Make Way From An Inbound Methodology


6. ...And develop offers for those individual targets

ABM succeeds as a strategy because of its relevance. Whilst crafting organisation-specific content is a start, the natural next step is to create organisation-specific offers to those prospects following the initial content piece. The offers could come in the form of a marketing or campaign plan, a competitor analysis, or it might be more product-focused in the form of an audit, depending on your organisation and offering. Either way, if the offer is more relevant to the prospect, the likelihood of conversion will increase.


7. Invite prospects into your community

B2B markets, especially those within the pharma and life science industries, still value relationships, and where better to make those relationships happen than inside your community? Inviting prospects into your community will give you, or your sales team, the opportunity to connect face-to-face with your prospects. Inviting them to your community of people, be it an event, bar or LinkedIn group, also gives the prospect a sense of belonging which will be appreciated by that prospect. If you don't have a community, create one!


8. Events are your friends

Events are a great environment to execute ABM tactics. Pharma and life sciences events are some of the biggest events in the world. Whether they are your own events or events which you are exhibiting/speaking in or simply events you are attending as a delegate, you will be presented with a number of opportunities to get face-to-face with your target accounts. Invite your prospects to do something with you – whatever you feel is necessary to begin or nurture a relationship, events are probably the best place to execute the ABM tactic within the industries we serve. 


Orientationatom Meet us at a future life science event →


9. Consider direct mail

As we have just touched upon a traditional method of marketing, and since ABM is closely related to direct sales, direct mail was always going to feature on this list. Direct mail, despite being overtaken by digital, can still be an effective option to reach prospects and targeted accounts. A message with a well-packaged gift or a handwritten letter, done right, can break through the digital clutter and create a real impression on the prospect receiving the direct mail. As with any outreach campaign, remember to be creative and unique, and always provide value.


10. Run remarketing (and targeting) ads

Remarketing ads feature on many lists such as this one because of their effectiveness in completing a range of tasks. They give marketers the opportunity to build on familiarity; serving ads to those who have already visited a website with the aim of bringing them back - to build relationships.

Targeted ads can also be used to draw targets to the website in the first instance, as LinkedIn, for example, allows the targeting of ads to members of a specific organisation (providing that the number of people being targeted is over 30). Twitter’s tailored audiences tool is another worthy of investigation. Your ABM strategy isn't complete without a targeted PPC campaign. Clicks will not come cheap, but the results will be far greater.


11. Do more with your website analytics

Use innovative tactics such as reverse IP lookups on your web traffic to take your account based marketing to the next level by identifying those who have visited your website that might not have converted, then taking that data to improve your outreach/relationship building efforts.


12. Befriend the friends/colleagues of your prospects

ABM isn’t about generating leads; it’s about generating relationships. Often overlooked are the colleagues and friends of the prospects you are targeting. Word of mouth is a great way to get in with a prospect, and if a contact of your prospect is talking about you or your organisation to your prospect, there is no doubt that the prospect will take note. Think about this as a channel to reach your prospect; a highly influential one. If a prospect’s colleagues aren’t appropriate, can you consider partners and intermediaries?


ABM is tactical, but also instinctive

Often, an ABM programme is misunderstood, labelled as a number of different things and owned by a number of departments and follows traditional objective setting. ABM in reality, is quite different – salespeople are not chasing new business wins for commission and marketers alike are not chasing website traffic and the number of leads generated.



"The main objective for an ABM strategy is relationships, not leads or sales." Tweet this.


For ABM to be successful within organisations, it entails a company-wide relationship-building outlook. And building relationships is a natural, instinctive process that humans have mastered from years of relationship building where the goal is earning a new friend. That's really it. The rest follows suit.

If you are not a natural people's person, you may struggle with ABM in the beginning. But rest assured, you can build on this process and it will demonstrate results in the long run. Gaining the trust of new people, building a database of contacts, relationships and friends is also highly rewarding for the individual building those relationships as well as for the organisation who will gain more advocates. 

To summarise…

  • Be creative with your messages and outreach
  • If you can, try to reach your prospects outside of work (or in the evenings)
  • Be trustworthy; do not be the traditional salesperson
  • Do not hassle as prospects within an organisation will talk to other prospects
  • The objective is relationships, not leads or sales
  • Be neutral, be knowledgeable and be valuable
  • Communicate with your sales, product and client services teams.


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