How should marketers target their most profitable accounts?

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Ever play marbles? Even if you haven’t, you won’t be surprised to learn there are cheap marbles and expensive ones. For example, you can buy a swirl for about 25 cents while an agate might cost $5.00. So you wouldn’t want to pay $500 for 100 marbles if there was a chance the jar contained some swirls.

And yet, many e-mail marketers run their campaigns as though they are playing marbles without knowing the difference between a swirl and an agate.

Heretofore, little attention has been paid to identifying, marketing and selling to strategic accounts. There are several reasons for this: high turnover; lack of systems and processes; the wrong organizational structure; lack of focus, accountability and predictability; and the simple failure to make it happen.

The result? The largest, most profitable accounts are being targeted like small, low-profit accounts. A case in point: A new PointClear client that for more than a year focused exclusively on e-mail marketing to high-level prospects found that this one-pronged strategy drove responses from lower-level decision-makers, and deal sizes were one-third of the size they were with a more integrated approach.

The evolution in 2011 will sound familiar, but it will be driven more by necessity than intellect. Customers and prospects should be divided into simple groups: those being provided relatively little service until they can be replaced with bigger, better and higher-margin clients; those needing selective investment; maintenance accounts; and those worth the investment to grow. Will strategic accounts—the biggest deals—depend entirely on e-mail for success? Heck no! They require an integrated approach—a multitouch, multimedia, multicycle approach to multiply results.

Dan McDade is president-CEO of PointClear (, a prospect-development firm.

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