Alright, so you’ve found your WHALES. And with your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) ship sailing steadily onward, (sorry for this terrible metaphor), you’re hoping to bring in a big one. But alas! You can’t land it. You chase and chase but never bring it in.

So what do you do? Curse Poseidon? Hang up your hat and become a farmer? No. You get inside the whale’s head, learn how he/she thinks, and try again.

Because, after all, account-based marketing isn’t just about chasing lists. It’s about truly targeting someone by understanding them beyond firmographics. You’ve got to know psychographics, pain-points, and even a few hopes and dreams of your targets to really make an impact.

Basically, you’ve got to weave your ABM around PBM (Persona Based Marketing). Only then can you cut through the noise and begin to make real headway with your target accounts.

Start with the Basics

Any well-informed account-based marketing strategy should already be operating with—at the very least—some level of demographic and psychographic data that informs your personas. After all, you can’t exactly target accounts if you don’t understand them.

And to truly do that, you need to go beyond generic profiles. It’s great to know they read The New York Times, but if you don’t know which sections, what their opinions on certain headlines are likely to be, and how they’re most likely to engage with that content, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to make anything that actually “meets them there.”

Dig into social data, discoverable online behaviors, and any publicly available information you can and actually construct a faux Facebook profile for your target. Who are they? What do they do on Saturday morning? How are you most likely to engage with them in a way that feels smart, relevant, and interesting?

Prepare Your Strategy

Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s time to start considering how you’re actually going to talk to them.

Presumably, you know who they are, where they are, why they’re likely to believe in your product/service, and how they’re most likely to be compelled to engage with you. And with this understanding in place, it’s time to map them against your funnel.

Mapping their interests, engagements, and needed messaging (i.e. what they need to hear to move them along in the buyer’s journey) and building a strategy that addresses those needs—and engages their pain points—is key. After all, it isn’t really a personalization strategy if you aren’t, you know, personalizing.

And then, of course, you actually make your channel selections.

Work with sales to decide how you will execute this strategy -be it direct mail campaigns, customized landing pages, or webinars. Sales is, and always has been, an invaluable resource at this stage in planning. Yes, you’ve got the best behavioral data around, but there’s no substitution for the smarts of people actually building these relationships. Tap sales expertise to get that final piece of insight needed to create your truly authentic, personal, engaging plan.

Check Your Data For Holes

It’s always a good idea to check your contact data one last time before taking the leap into the wild unknown. After all, what’s the use of building a beautiful experience like this and driving it straight into a wall?

You’ll probably find it useful to on an AI-powered contact management app—after all, these tools are designed to alert you to any change in your target’s title, role, email address, phone number, or more. Basically anything beyond top-of-the-funnel social targeting relies on this data, and it’s better to follow that old adage “measure twice, cut once.”

Besides, gazing back at data may also reveal some new insights. So be sure about your information before you approach your targeted buyers, and never lose focus.

ABM isn’t hard, but it does rely on a level of behavioral understanding that may seem unfamiliar to you. But you know persona marketing—and have likely been doing it for years. Just work on taking those principles to the next level. And, of course, make sure to have the data you need to actually get there.