Most new directions or strategies—whether it’s starting a new job, moving to a new city, or simply trying a new recipe—carry some level of risk. No risk, no reward, as the saying goes. That level of risk is higher, however, if there’s no preparation. Can you imagine starting a new job without doing your research or knowing what you signed up for?

The same goes for switching from traditional or inbound marketing to account-based marketing (ABM). The marketing tactics are entirely different. ABM focuses on a select number of accounts (ones with the greatest potential of boosting the bottom line), instead of seeing any company as a prospective customer. B2B companies that are interested in running ABM campaigns should be excited to take the leap—the reward is worth it—but only after making sure their strategies and infrastructure are set up for success.

Here are the four boxes you must check before executing your first ABM campaign.

1. Know who your ideal customers are.

An account-focused approach means just that: You will have a very specific targeted account list. This process begins by establishing the types of companies that will be interested in what product or service you offer. Lean on the experience and intuition of your sales and marketing teams to determine the industry you’d like to work with, company size, estimated annual revenue, and if there are opportunities to cross-sell and upsell within the organization.

Other questions to answer include:

  • Will they bring enough value to your business to be worth your time and monetary investment?
  • Who are the key decision-makers, and what are their titles?
  • How can your company solve your targets’ current and future challenges?

Identifying your customer will improve the overall chances of conversion, greatly increasing the long-term ROI of your ABM spend.

2. Determine which digital marketing channels you will use.

The options are vast and varied, including content marketing, paid search, SEO, programmatic advertising, and paid social media. Most ABM campaigns should prepare for a true omnichannel approach, as each channel provides its own unique value at different stages of the sales funnel. SEO, for example, is more of a prolonged, organic process, while paid search works in the immediate future, targeting those in-market accounts searching for particular keywords and phrases. Additionally, your target accounts will live and engage across an average of six different channels; you must meet them where they are and where they will be if you want to continue to reach your audience and keep them engaged.

3. Get your content and messaging ready to go.

For ABM to be deemed successful, you must prove to your target accounts that you are a font of knowledge and a trusted source in the industry. So before you even consider outreach to prospective customers, you need to have a library of resources ready to go—blog posts, relevant case studies, informative white papers, infographics, and personalized ad sets. This type of content shows, rather than merely says, you are an expert in what they’re searching for.

4. Build out your tech stack.

Finally, your ABM infrastructure must include a complete technology stack if you want to be able to execute and accurately track your campaign progress. According to the ABM Leadership Alliance, your infrastructure must include the following: customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, content management system (CMS), data management platform, tag management, and live chat. This, of course, does not include the other technologies you’ll need along the way for account selection, measurement, sales enablement, and engagement tools.

While preparing to implement an ABM strategy may seem overwhelming, remember the pay-off. 87% of B2B marketers claim that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other marketing program. Prepare as much as possible, then take the leap; once your first campaign begins to deliver, you’ll never look back.