How to Segment Your Target Accounts for ABM using STEM | Punch! ABM

How to Segment Your Target Accounts for ABM using STEM

The Compass to Success

In the current B2B landscape, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), essentially the marketing equivalent of finding out the world isn’t flat; and all the new possibilities that are now available to explore! But just in case… here is a succinct summary of what ABM means at it’s top level.

ABM is a strategic approach shared by Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success that focuses on specific, targeted accounts. It’s all about identifying the accounts that matter most to you and dedicating your time to gathering insight on what keeps them up at night.

Using this understanding you can either give solutions to an account’s specific challenges, or closely align with achieving their goals. It’s about customising and personalising your conversations with accounts to match what their version of value looks like! A customer-centric experience.

A minty fresh approach to customer conversations

Prolonged exposure to the old-fashioned marketing method; throwing muck at the wall to see what sticks, has left a bad taste in the mouth of your current and future customers. Think of ABM as a mouthwash, it’s time to start taking an approach to marketing that focuses on really giving people what they want. That’s just good business really.

ABM hasn’t emerged out of thin air, Sales have always been doing things account-based! That is, to focus on the lowest hanging fruit, the accounts most likely to convert. It’s only now through the progression of Marketing Technology (MarTech) and access to good data, that the account-based door has been opened to Marketing.

Now that we are all familiar with the principle behind ABM, let’s discuss how it can be applied when targeting any size of organisation; scaling your approach to targeted accounts using STEM!

STEM stands for Strategic, Target, Enterprise and Mid-Market; it is essentially a way of categorising the different types of businesses from your target accounts, based on return on investment (ROI) criteria, for example size, budget etc. Therefore, the purpose of STEM is to analyse potential account ROI in order to allocate the appropriate amount of resources. It’s worth noting that when you’re doing ABM to scale, you may need to come up with a ‘lite’ version of your service in order to provide affordable, scalable service to Mid-Market accounts.

Nature makes sense

This may sound a little out there, but tree structure actually represents the entire logic behind STEM. Think of a target account as if it were a tree, the trunk represents the resources you are putting into that account. Have you ever seen a small tree with a massive trunk? Or a massive tree with a small trunk? Probably not. The bigger the tree, the bigger the trunk. The same goes for ABM. The bigger the account, the more time and resources it requires!

So STEM is a method of segmenting your target accounts based on value, in order to allocate your ABM resources effectively. If you’re using STEM bear in mind, ABM is enabled by great data…which is where intent data comes in. After looking at your STEM accounts, your intent data determines the urgency and timing for when to then apply those resources!

Time to make like Jack and cut down the bean…STEM

STEM serves as a template that scales on a case by case basis, what I mean by this is that a small marketing company’s big win strategic accounts, may in fact, fall into the enterprise or target categories of a global marketing firm.

STEM works relative to the size and goals of your business, so you need to put the time into applying it to your own target accounts.

To help you with that, here is an outline of what each category might look like, using an example total addressable market of 700 target accounts.

Let’s take a look!

*Example STEM breakdown of 700 accounts, 5 Strategic, 50 Target, 100 Enterprise, 500+ Mid-Market


Mid-market accounts are where the bulk of your accounts are going to be, in this example let’s say somewhere around the mark of around 500 accounts. You will have a large number of companies here, but will spend less time and resources on these accounts as the size and value of a deal is small. For this reason, the only approach that is scalable for mid-market accounts is 1:Many ABM. There is still a lot of business to be had in the mid-market collectively, but the level of personalisation in your outreach needs to reflect the potential ROI. Depending on the scope of your campaigns, these accounts might not even come into the equation; they may just be inbound opportunities.


Next you have your enterprise accounts, you can still expect a large number of accounts here; somewhere around the 100 mark sounds reasonable. These accounts will have a higher budget and merit more resources accordingly. You may start to use custom personas to better personalise your messaging with specific goals and pain points, as well as expanding the number of key contacts you wish to engage with at each target account. They will have enough of a potential ROI to go after with some resources, but not as much value as the target and strategic accounts. Your budget dictates whether you target these enterprise accounts with a 1:Many or 1:Few approach. Do you have enough budget to allow a 1:Few approach to this many accounts? If the answer is no, then you’d be better placed spending your budget on carrying out an effective 1:Many campaign.


We’re getting down into much smaller, more focused numbers of accounts now; your Target section of, well… the target accounts… will be around about 50 accounts. These accounts will have enough dedicated budget to warrant a considerable amount of resources, with this comes an approach using sub vertical content and web experience with elements of personalisation, themed direct mail and personalised handwritten postcards. A more refined, personalised message and additional efforts across all channels. You should be choosing between either 1:Few or 1:1 ABM as your approach, where you allocate more budget per account. With more budget, you are able to learn more about each target account. A greater understanding of target accounts, allows for greater personalisation which in turn, builds long lasting business relationships and drives revenue.


Finally, all that remains are your 5 strategic accounts. They say save the best until last and in this instance that is true. Your strategic accounts are the ones that if landed, would make your year! The pièce de résistance of ABM! These are the accounts you spare no expense to reach. With strategic accounts, there is no strict guideline on how creative you should be (apart from staying within budget). Consider guerrilla marketing, 1:1 content, 1:1 web experience, experiential, higher value direct mail, and research driven handwritten letters and postcards. These methods need to be targeting as many relevant people – within an account – as possible: influencers, internal champions, and decision makers. Actually, even people that you know won’t be decision makers can sometimes be of interest as a way to get your foot in the door! You should be hitting as many influencers from as many angles as possible, get creative and show them why you deserve their business! If you haven’t realised already (I’m sure you have), you need to be implementing 1:1 ABM for your strategic accounts!

Potential ROI should dictate your time and resource!

Account-based marketing is a highly creative and individual way to approach your future and current customers, focusing on the idea that adding value to customers drives revenue. However, increased effort and creativity is costly – it takes time and budget – so you need to be able to segment your accounts based on potential ROI!

So how exactly do you use STEM to segment your target accounts for ABM?

1) Create a list of companies that make up your total addressable market (For help see our blog on Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile)

2) Segment them using STEM (Strategic, Target, Enterprise, Mid-Market)

3) Determine relevant approach based on number of accounts & budget

4) Start creating personalised ABM campaigns that customers can’t resist!

If you have any questions about STEM, please feel free to email us at or comment below and we will get back to you!