Account-based marketing is a strategic approach that focuses B2B marketing and sales efforts on a defined set of companies (or accounts), allowing for a more personalized and targeted approach—not just to individuals, but to multiple decision makers, influencers, and champions within each company.
With data, B2B marketing and sales work together to identify the key decision makers in a small pool of highly-targeted accounts. From here, the marketing team uses that same data to prepare and deliver messages their influencers actually want (and need) to hear by speaking to each individual’s pain points. Finally, sales uses this content to thoughtfully connect with each prospect at the moment when they are ready to buy.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can use these three components—data, content, and engagement—to prepare your brand’s messaging for account-based marketing success.
1. Do a Content Inventory Audit
Anyone who has been in the content marketing space for a while knows that there is content all over the place. And while there certainly are B2B companies who don’t have enough content, there are way more companies who have too much content but aren’t appropriately making use of it.
Start by looking at what types of content you have in your team’s arsenal, and then align each piece specifically with a target. You can do this by creating a matrix, an inventory template, or using any tracking system that works for you (excel sheets are fine! No judgment here for people who stick to the classics).
However you perform your audit, what matters is that you address the combination of what content you already have and what kind of person it’s appropriate for.
2. Identify Named Accounts
There are two ways to identify named accounts: the manual way and the data way. The manual way happens when you’re working on your alignment between marketing and sales. Your marketing team will simply sit down with your sales leader, and they’ll say, “These are the big, specific accounts we’re going after.” It’s simple enough.
The data way, on the other hand, is a little more interesting and often a little more informed (and therefore, ultimately more productive). It usually involves enlisting a data provider to take a look at your customer list and identify patterns, trends, and types of companies or industries that seem to recur on the list.
Because we all know that your next customer honestly looks a lot like the ones you already have, your provider will use the data to identify which prospective companies look like the ones your message has already resonated with: in short, your ideal customer profile.
These are the people—the named accounts—that you should be targeting and going after with the help of your sales team.
3. Map Your Named Accounts’ Specific Problems
Quantitative data is important, but you need anecdotal evidence as well. At this point, it’s time to talk to your front lines: your sales team and sometimes even your customer service team. Your ultimate goal is to create content that addresses specific problems, so the more insider information you can find out about the challenges these companies are facing, what their competitors are doing, and more, the better you can help them find solutions through your messaging.
A surprising number of companies don’t actually take the time to discuss the pain points of their customers. Yet without this crucial step, your marketing and sales teams won’t be aligned, and account-based marketing will never work.
4. Modify or Create Account-Specific Content
Now that you know what content you already have and what pain points your ideal prospective customers are facing, look for the Venn Diagram overlap.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, here. Creating content from scratch for a targeted account is great, but you probably already have items in your content matrix that answer their needs (or that come close). Modifying what you’ve already created will cut down on time and costs.
Say you have an ebook that has been downloaded thousands of times. You know it’s jam-packed with useful information. Edit it by tweaking the content inside to speak to an individual account by addressing the specific issues they have.
5. Provide Sales With Discussion Points
From here, you give this awesome, data-and-research-backed tool over to sales so they have an asset in their pocket to engage with a prospect in a way that absolutely speaks to that prospect’s need. But it’s not enough to say, “Here’s a piece of content you can use! Good luck!” That’s not alignment. That’s leaving your team to flounder.
Giving your sales team specific discussion points and guidelines that they can use, however, helps them best engage with each decision maker. Find out how sales plans to use the content: Will it be part of an introductory email? A guideline during an in-person meeting? Or perhaps they want it for a takeaway item in a follow-up email? Tailor your guidelines for your sales rep’s plan so that they have an asset they can actually use.
Account-based marketing has the potential to dramatically improve the ROI of your marketing campaigns, but only if you use it thoughtfully and effectively. With the help of data, the right content, and tailored engagement, your marketing and sales teams can align to finally meet the right prospects with the right messaging at the right time.
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