By Hung Ho

In our “What, Why, How” series, we look at marketing techniques seldom used in Vietnam. This article focuses on account-based marketing, which enables restaurants and hotels to focus their marketing resources on a high-potential and easy-to-reach target audience.

What is account-based marketing (ABM)?

ABM involves identifying and mapping out your potential customers and adopting a strategic approach to target those customers. ABM originated as an approach to business-to-business (B2B) marketing, where marketers have started coordinating marketing efforts with sales. By focusing marketing resources on individual customers (or types of customers) as individual “accounts,” personalized messages can be distributed through effective channels to boost exposure to the right audience.

ABM is a practical approach to marketing, but it is also new. Before this decade, marketers simply lacked enough tools to target their marketing resources at decision-makers in individual accounts.

Why use ABM in hospitality?

B2B ABM is reasonably common in Vietnam, but we have only just begun to explore its applicability to hospitality. Consider the restaurant industry, which generally requires a B2C marketing approach. It can be daunting and expensive advertising to everyone, especially when a large chunk of your audience might not be interested in your product. ABM is a practical tool to segment the broad market and divide the audience into approachable groups.

Search engines, review platforms, and blogs are among the top choices for travelers to research and plan trips. Resorts, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are in competition with each other within Vietnam but also in other Asian countries. This has put marketers in a long-fought battle of inbound marketing, using content to generate leads. Over time, inbound marketing has reached a saturation point as the audience is overfed with “quality content.”

ABM is a fresh tactic which can overcome these issues. Instead of waiting for the audience to come to you through a heavily invested customer journey, ABM can help marketers go after customers by using marketing automation tools and target segmented groups of audience to connect individual buyers to what they’re already looking for. This practice can also help hospitality businesses reach the key individuals and influencers who make decisions for companies and organizations’ trips and outings.

ABM is also a solution for marketing with limited resources, which is important as most small and medium sized hospitality businesses in Vietnam have a very small marketing team. ABM marketers can balance between using marketing automation tools and manual marketing tasks to conduct a campaign with limited resources. With software capable of managing leads, content creation, automation processes and providing analysis, marketers can do ABM at scale by targeting accounts and individuals at the buying stage that they’re in. Active Campaign, Zapier and Hootsuite are among the top picks for both small businesses and enterprises.

ABM is also personal and optimized. Traditional marketing uses the demographic data to build a vague concept of who the customers are and what they want and then tries to apply it broadly. ABM focuses resources to target the accounts and move them through the funnel by using IP-based targeting and optimized content. For small to medium restaurants and hotels, reaching out to the key, potential customers and avoid targeting broad audiences is a very important factor to implement a marketing strategy with a limited budget. Hence, to identify the “accounts” for business’ products is the first and foremost task of ABM.

 

How to do ABM for hospitality business?

 

1. Discover your accounts & collect their data through key internal players

Identifying the business value of your accounts is the most important step in establishing an ABM campaign. It is also the most difficult. However, free tools like MakeMyPersona, HubSpot Research and useful sites such as Pew Research Center and Social Mention can give you a broad hint of your target.
Another source to identify valuable accounts is the business’ current customer data. Based on their firmographics, ABM marketers can analyze strategic factors such as the likelihood of repeat purchases, market influence, and customer behavior patterns.

To match companies with the descripted business value, marketers will need a little help from internal players from each organization. This is also a chance to identify where the sales potential lies and collect the required information to make smarter investments in later processes.

Let’s consider a hypothetical. Say you have a resort, and over the past two years, employees at FPT have been frequent visitors and written good reviews. This hints that tapping into this enterprise and letting this account know that what you offer is well matched to the venture’s value. However, the company has more than 5 operation members with headquarters and branches spread through Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. To identify which customers hold the most potential, where they work, and where they are in the buying journey, ABM marketers could offer incentives to HR staff of the company in exchange for information. These incentives might be a free trip to your resort or small souvenirs on special occasions.

2. Determine the channels

Once the structures of your accounts have been mapped out, you can start to determine which optimal channels would be used to communicate effectively based on the accounts’ locations and activities. Back to our FPT example, here are some possible approaches:

  • Facebook ads that are targeted directly to FPT’s staff.
  • TVC or digital screen at FPT’s office buildings and elevator.
  • Emails, flyers and brochures sent to HR and Administration departments of FPT about Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) at the resort.
  • Attend events, exhibitions, networking events and tradeshows that FPT staff members will visit. Outbound emails can be sent in advance to the visitors, mentioning small freebies, vouchers and other incentives which are giveaways at your booth.
  • Events organized to invite key internal players from your various accounts. Try to make it worth their while with good food, drinks and present them with MICE opportunities at your resort.

3. Personalize the content and message

Content personalization is important in content distribution, especially with digital channels such as email and Facebook advertising. Start with auditing your existing content and try to tailor your messages following each account’s business value.

4. Measure & optimize

Having multiple accounts for your products could enable ABM marketers to analyze ROI in comparative perspectives. By tracking the accounts’ buying behavior on websites and booking systems, marketers can optimize the content and communication channels to effectively reach the sale potential.

Conclusion

Account-based marketing is a fresh, practical approach which can be adopted by marketers with the help of the available automation tools. For small and medium size businesses in Vietnam hospitality industry, ABM is an effective method to segment the broad market and conduct personalized campaign with limited resources.

This content is also available in: Vietnamese