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Crafting the Right Content for Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy
September 25, 2017 •Mike Rose
So, you’ve now identified and scored your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer persona. You might be asking yourself what comes next? It’s time to start identifying what kinds of content you should create, and the strategy that goes into making sure it is the right content, to the right contact, at the right time.
ICP and Buyer Persona Are Paramount
The whole point of account-based marketing (ABM) is to create relevant content that is shared with the right and highly targeted accounts, considering each account as its own market. It is paramount that both the ICP (AMB) and the buyer persona (Inbound) are your reference point from here on out for ABM. They give you the resources to match the content to the target. If anything you create or consider does not aim to fix their pains, gain their attention in the volume of competing content or match the right accounts, then it’s time to adjust. The content plan has its unique place in account-based advertising, account-based marketing and account-based sales. Or, as all three are referred to as ABX. X stands for department alignment (not really, but that’s how I think of it).
It helps to continue to break down both the ICP and the buyer persona by roles, archetypes, demographics and firmographics to get a more granular view. When in doubt go back to my blog on finding your ICP. This can create a more manageable funnel to filter your content through handling each variable separately before bringing it back together.
Where the Departmental Alignment Rubber Meets the Road
ABX focuses on targeting the roles (stakeholder as one example) in the right accounts, and that will require more than one of your organizational departments. This is where the departmental alignment I discussed in my blog, How to Catch the Next Big Fish with Department Alignment, starts to shine. Successful account-based advertising campaigns are going to be combining your highly personalized display ads, utilizing a partner like Terminus, with-other-relevant account-based marketing and sales content media like events, emails, scripts, direct mail (yes, I said direct mail!), inbound marketing and more. It’s important to bring everyone into alignment as with the variety in types of accounts Sales, Marketing and Success need move in unison with the campaign. Once you are aligned, then the first step to crafting the right content, finding the specific driver (marketer, sales person, customer success manager, etc.), in the right vehicle (display ad, call/email sequence script, etc.) is to determine where your focus is going to be.
Before diving into content, driver and vehicle it is important to determine where you should be allocating your resources and focus. This is, in part, why scoring your account list into tiers is so important. Let’s say that your accounts are tiered the following way:
- Tier A - $500M+
- Tier B - $200M - $500M
- Tier C - $20M - $200M
Looking at these tiers, the company in this example knows how to work best with companies at ‘each’ tier level, and will be focusing the right resources at each tier. Starting with more high-touch resources being spent on Tier A, and we’ll get into what that means a little further down. Allocating the proper resources to each tier needs to be documented and part of your internal process. So now we know where most of our time is going, so let’s look at how we can make it relevant.
Now that you have an idea where most of your content will be going, it’s time to start diving into content type and content design. It is important to note that both content type and design are not always a linear idea of development. Let the content flow and follow the right ideas.
Creating relevant content isn’t just about how its designed (how it looks and what it says), but as I’ve alluded to already, it is about what form it takes. Consider your ICP, buyer persona and even industry, right down to department, once again and find the content to meet them where they already are. A stakeholder might be reading ebooks and whitepapers as they become stronger subject matter experts, but a decision maker is likely going to be looking for a more personal interaction, and ways they can grow their business as either Way One (vision) or Way Two (strategy) archetypes. The content needs to be created and delivered in a vehicle that lets them see and find your answer to their pain. There also needs to be content for each stakeholder. This information also helps you identify how your ABM ads should be targeted, who should be seeing them and of course how to customize them.
High-touch VS High-tech
This leads us to high-tech (digital/inbound marketing) vs high-touch (personal interactions). High-touch pieces of content are more personal and better at providing a back and forth like subject matter specific events (not just networking by handing out business cards for old-fashion lead generation), scripts, direct mail, workshops, and even some video content. High-tech is more your inbound strategy and digital interaction with your prospects and clients. Both are very important, but you need to know how to use them. Tech also allows you to take a 1:1000s approach in target market reach.
It’s best to think of high-touch and high-tech as threads that you choose to weave. Neither will ever be completely exclusive, even your low tier lists will get targeted with high-touch content if a contact becomes a lead. High-touch requires more resources, active collaboration between sales and marketing (we will never leave the departmental alignment idea behind) and a faster refresh cycle. High-tech is going to require less active resources and hopefully a lower CAC (customer acquisition costs), yet often requires maintenance, monitoring and adjustment and takes the most time in its initial development.
As a general rule, we want to use high-touch with your higher tier clients. In the example above we can also determine that it is likely that those in the decision maker role, and Way One archetype are going to have more money and less time. They are driving the vision of the company and want a more personal experience from those that they trust. Think of what vehicle and message will get their attention more than anything else. In this case, tier A accounts should be targeted by events, sales interactions, follow-up and, if possible, peer-to-peer conversations, in addition to the very targeted digital advertisements. During this time, your high-tech inbound strategy is working to bring in new Tier C accounts, as well as possible stakeholders from your tier A accounts. It is important to map out where these high-touch and high-tech interactions will be to inform your content creation.
The topic of creating content for all phases of ABX – advertising, marketing and sales – could fill many books (and has), so I am just scratching the surface here. Your ICP and buyer persona ultimately informs the creation of your content and how to make sure you are tailoring your creative correctly.
Content should consider the following:
- What pain is my company answering? How will it gain attention in the sea of competitive content? – buyer persona
- Does this driver or vehicle make sense? What driver or vehicle ideas am I missing? (Get creative, but don’t try to innovate for the sake of innovating) – ICP (archetype, decision process role), buyer persona
- What unique advantages do my driver and vehicle afford my content creation? How do I capitalize on this for my target contact? – ICP and buyer persona
- What makes our companies a good fit for each other? – buyer persona (needs), ICP (culture)
- Why haven’t I been using dimensional direct mail all this time? (kidding... kind of)
It is important to look at the whole picture, but the questions above will be answered by specific aspects of both your ICP and buyer personas. It is important to break them down and examine the pieces like firmographics, archetype, technographics, i.e. competitive installs (if important) and decision maker role to target the right content. An event that focuses on how to streamline organizational waste isn’t going to do a whole lot for a Way Three (tactics) stakeholder, yet it will resonate with a Way Two (strategy) decision-maker. This event is still the right content, it just is not going to be targeted to every contact in a given account. That’s inbound marketing folks!
This will help to get you started on creating content in the right direction for your ABM strategy. You may have to customize by account, and you may have to customize by buyer persona, but those are topics for another day.
Crafting content for your ABM strategy comes down to creating the right message at the right time, for the right person using the right driver in each vehicle. That time could be any stage of the buyer’s journey, from the beginning at education all the way to decision. The right content though, is always crafted to tell the right contacts how you are going to answer their personal and organizational pains.
A scientist by training, speaker, author and entrepreneur by drive, Michael brings a level of business acumen to marketing strategy that is rare in the emerging online marketing space. Michael’s strong knowledge and understanding of business challenges, as well as marketing best practices has evolved to him authoring and speaking on a new and innovative game-changing approach to business entitled ROE Powers ROI – The ultimate Way to think and communicate for ridiculous results. The Return on Energy® methodology is the secret sauce behind Mojo’s success and that of our clients.
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