Much like social media and inbound marketing before it, account-based marketing has become the hottest buzzword to hit the business world. But what is it, what makes it effective, and how can you use it to grow your business?

Those are the questions I want to address in this post.

What is account-based marketing?

For the most part, account-based marketing is just what it sounds like—marketing that’s based on a given account, existing or prospective. It’s typically done by B2B organizations that operate in complex selling environments where there might be multiple decision-makers or a significant investment.

Where inbound marketing primarily focuses on creating great content to bring prospects to you, account-based marketing puts the emphasis on individual prospects or existing accounts.

What makes account-based marketing effective?

While account-based marketing has been around for years, I believe one of the reasons behind its resurgence is that it is an incredibly effective way to earn the trust and attention of prospective customers. We live in a world that has become noisier than ever. Our customers are hit with thousands of advertising messages per day. And many people are tired of receiving the kind of spammy marketing messages that are blasted at them through email.

Account-based marketing is effective, because it’s efficient, easy to implement, and it yields impressive results. According to a recent study, 84% of marketers said ABM delivers higher ROI than other marketing strategies.

How can you use account-based marketing to grow your business?

While each company’s account-based marketing strategy should be unique, based on the target audience and buying cycles of your industry, there are some foundational elements that every strategy includes:

1. Identify the accounts you want to target. These need to be specific. Your answer can’t be, “businesses with $5M+ in revenue in the Nashville area.” You need to name specific businesses. While market research is a very valuable tool in determining this list, some of it is qualitative—that is, the kind of information you’re able to contribute using intuition and experience.

2. Research the unique ins-and-outs of each business. Being familiar with elements such as the company structure and the critical players involved can dictate how you convey your product or service to each business. What unique challenges are they facing? What specific initiatives are they launching?

3. Personally address their specific challenges. Now that you’ve got the names of the key players within each account, you’ll want to create new content for them. Such content should speak not only to the pain points of the business but also to the specific employees and contacts you’re trying to reach.

4. Focus on quality, not quantity. The beauty of account-based marketing is that you can nurture quality leads and give your prospective customers what they want: a personalized sales experiences that gets to the heart of their problems and provides solutions. Contrary to inbound leads, account-based marketing shouldn’t be measured on the number of accounts you can target but rather on the quality of the relationships you’re building.

Ignoring the account-based marketing trend won’t necessarily hurt your business, but it will make it more difficult to personalize sales tactics, maximize campaign ROI, and stay ahead of your competitors.