Ruth Stevens 1 web resSome B2B marketers know exactly what accounts are in their target market. What a luxury! These marketers can eliminate the old “spray and pray,” and focus all their attention and investment in a finite universe of prospects and current customers. It’s almost like mass customized selling, with maximum coverage and minimal waste. Best of all, a number of new tools and tactics are now available to do the marketing job efficiently.

I’ve been involved a few situations like this recently.  At DMA14 in San Diego in October, I heard a fascinating talk by Mark Rentschler, marketing director at Makino, a large manufacturer of machine tools. They have spent a few years building a database of the 6,000 accounts they already do business with in North America, plus another 6,000 prospective accounts. Makino’s approach? “Laser focus,” says Rentschler. “These are the accounts we pay attention to.”

A similar focus occupies Warm-Transfer, which tele-qualifies leads generated by very large insurance companies, and warm transfers the prospects to the clients’ sales teams. “We need volume of at least 1,500 leads a month to serve a client efficiently,” says Jeff Feuer, CEO. “In the insurance category, there are about 500 companies large enough for us to serve well. We know who they are, and our marketing is designed to attract them, while at the same time discouraging smaller insurance players.” Feuer has a similar target account list in categories like mortgage and higher education.

To support this kind of marketing, a variety of tools and tactics are available, some old and some new. If you’re targeting only a finite universe, you want to know everything about them that you possibly can. To populate your database, look at:

Data append. Business marketers can fill out their customer and prospect records by appending certain data elements purchased from third-party data vendors. Infogroup, for example, offers as many as 45 data elements, like industrial classification code, company size, executive contacts, title, and phone number. Append is priced very reasonably, ranging from $50 to $150 per thousand. You can also tap the resources of B2B “deep data” providers like Avention and HG Data.

Data discovery. B2B append match rates can be disappointingly low, so the next step in filling out the customer record is “discovery,” whereby you call into the target account and collect the missing data, by hand. Expensive, to be sure, but well worth it for hard-to-get information like additional contacts, job titles, buying role, and direct phone numbers. Another approach, albeit less productive, is LinkedIn research.

Specialized third party databases. MeritDirect’s Boston Management Team offers a service that combines append and discovery for named accounts. They run your contact files against the 35 million names of Merit’s Omnibase, by job title, to report on your contact penetration rate by job category, in your target accounts. You can then append additional names, to broaden your access across the buying circle, and then plug the holes with supplementary outbound discovery calls.

Then there’s communications. To talk to customers and prospects in a limited number of accounts, you want to ratchet down your broad-based general advertising, and go for a narrow range of communications options, including:

Addressable media, using real personalization. When you know details about the target—like job roles, buying roles, and where the account stands in relation to your company—there’s no excuse for sending general messages. Here’s your opportunity to use personalized messaging via addressable media like email, phone and direct mail. If the target is already assigned to a particular sales territory, it’s likely you’ll want the messages to be signed by the rep.

Banner advertising targeted by account. Some publishers offer IP address driven delivery of banner ads, which vastly reduces waste. Bizo offers banner ad serving based on company level targeting, using cookies. These targeted ads will cost more on a per impression basis, but think of the efficiencies.

Account-based website design. It’s eminently possible today to customize the experience of your site visitors based on the company they come from. Demandbase, for example, offers a platform that enables this kind of personalization, as well as IP-address driven banner ads.

It’s so refreshing to focus on a limited universe, and concentrate all your efforts there. Have you come across some tools and techniques that I have missed?

About the author:  Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools in the U.S. and abroad. Crain’s BtoB magazine named Ruth one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc., the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. Learn more at