By Carmen Hill, an award-winning B2B content strategist and member of the ALIAS Partners Collective
Account-based marketing (ABM) and content marketing (CM) go together like strawberries and cream. ABM prioritises companies that fit your ideal customer profile, and CM provides relevant, valuable information to them at every stage of the buying journey. Each ingredient is delicious on its own, but combining them creates a different—and infinitely better—account-based experience, or as ALIAS calls it, ABX.
Even sweeter, ABX helps you maximise your content budget and create the most effective content and communications to create demand, earn confidence and drive revenue.ABX helps you maximise your content budget and create the most effective content and communications to create demand, earn confidence and drive revenue. #abx #abm Click To Tweet
Creating a Shared Content Strategy Based on ABM
ABX provides a framework for bringing sales and marketing together around a central, shared content strategy that is based on the principles of account-based marketing. Like ABM, an account-based content strategy focuses on the challenges and opportunities of specific companies and uses targeted, personalised content to engage with decision-makers and influencers in those companies.
To be effective, your content must be unique and relevant to the individuals you are seeking to engage with. That is why the ABX framework calls for content that is rooted in actual customer and competitive data and insights. As ALIAS’ Julie Wisdom says, ‘For ABX to work, you have to get dirty in your data.’
Getting on the Same Page with Sales and Partners
Marketing cannot develop the content strategy in a vacuum. Marketing and sales have to bridge their customary divide and work closely to create content that is relevant, resonant and valuable.
It is true that account selection is the first step in your ABM strategy, influencing all the subsequent steps, from content and creative to channels and conversion. But too often, sales and marketing alignment begins—and ends—with account selection. It’s a lot like good posture: you can’t simply pull your shoulders back and make it right. True alignment requires a head-to-toe exercise that accounts for the entire customer lifecycle.
Working with sales is critical. But it is also important to include the account management team and your company’s strategic partners, which are likely selling into many of the same target accounts. Together, you need to agree on key aspects of the ABX strategy: Which accounts will you target? What are the value propositions? How will you communicate with different departments and roles in the decision-making process?
3 Steps to ABX Success
When you develop your content strategy through the lens of ABX, all content has a purpose and is connected to other content. It is based on relevant data and insights and tied to your value propositions through the customer perspective.
Step 1 – Insight: Understanding Challenges and Opportunities
ABX begins with insight about your target accounts and the people within those companies that you need to engage.
- What is their industry? How are evolving technology, trends and competitors influencing—or even disrupting—their business?
- What are their challenges and opportunities?
- What is their organisational structure and culture?
- What is their role in the organisation and in buying decisions?
- What is their decision-making style? For example, do they approach things from a more rational or emotional mindset?
Taking a deep-dive into the internal business structure is important because not every individual in a business has the same challenges or perspective. Your content shouldn’t just be specific to that business but should be specific to different divisions and job titles, sometimes even down to the level of individuals.
Step 2 – Perspective: Creating a New Vision of the Future
Once you understand your audience in the context of their own experience, paint a picture of how that experience could be better. Gather internal stakeholders from sales, marketing, product development and your innovation team (if you have one) for a design thinking workshop. With the collective wisdom of your subject matter experts, think about how your products and services could improve your customers’ business, career or daily life.
Step 3 – Conversations: Tying Value Propositions to Real Customer Value
Based on the insights and perspective, the next step is to create a conversation map that frames your story around the customer’s worldview, including topics, themes and narratives. The buyer journey is still alive and well, and conversation maps give B2B marketers a methodology for going after every account at various points in time. It gives an ABM strategy longevity as the accounts within it progress, evolve or change.
Topping Off ABX with Higher Content ROI
Ultimately, of course, the real proof of the ABX pudding is in the eating. And ALIAS clients are seeing some pretty sweet results.
ABX leads not only to higher quality content but also to a higher ROI on content and content marketing. More importantly, it eliminates the mixed messages between marketing, sales and account management and delivers a more consistent customer experience, from first engagement to closed sale—and beyond. Pimm’s anyone?ABX leads not only to higher quality content but also to a higher ROI on content and content marketing. Click To Tweet
Ready to sweeten your content marketing strategy with an account-based approach? Join Julie Wisdom and Carmen Hill for their workshop at Content Marketing World: ABX: Aligning Around an Account-Based Content Experience. Save $100 with code: ABX