The difference between the two strategies

Warning: ”Marketing Automation-content” does not work with Account-Based Marketing 

You can’t use the same content for your Account-Based Marketing program as for your Marketing Automation program. In a minute you will know why.

This is a direct follow-up of my recent article Marketing Automation vs. Account Based Marketing that went crazy viral (thank you for all your retweets and shares!).

We are part of the global ABM-consortium that was created to share knowledge about, and establish best practices for, ABM. From our latest study, conducted by Demand Metric, we know that 90 percent of the companies that run the most successful ABM programs create ABM-specific content. 

So, what’s the difference between the two content-strategies? 

MA content is optimized for personas

Marketing Automation content is created for B2B or B2C target groups with “personas” in mind. Individuals. You may tailor it for, say, the CEO of a small entrepreneurial business; for a man or woman, 35–45 years old, with one or two children; or for someone who loves to travel. All content is customized to match the needs, wants or pains of that specific persona. Creating this kind of content to support the buying journey, is usually fairly straightforward.

ABM content is optimized for the organization

Conversely, ABM content is always created with the targeted organization in mind. It could be an existing customer with potential for cross-selling or upselling, or a company halfway through the pipeline. It could be as many as 10, 15 or more individuals with shared interests and different professional and personal priorities. 

What’s more, the buying journey tends to be loooooong and often complex, and your marketing program always goes hand in hand with sales, all the way to the finish line.

Organizations don’t make decisions, people do

Once you have a grip on the needs of the organization, you have to consider the various internal stakeholders. When you have that figured that, you will probably have a rather clear idea of a strategy, as well as a focal point for your varied content.

You can now start to create content that will give all relevant categories of decision-makers or influencers what they need to hear, to feel comfortable with you as a supplier or service provider. Remember, individuals make the decisions, but you always start out with the company’s needs.  

The problem with H2H or P2P

Speaking of individuals: I’m so tired of hearing that content is always about “H2H” or P2P“. Humans to humans, or people to people. Sure it’s about humans, but the truth is that it’s way more complicated than declaring ”No more B2B or B2C – it’s H2H”. 

When selling to large organizations with massive order values, the final decision will be based on what is best for the company. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that we are robots without feelings – that we only look at numbers and that we don’t care if the suppliers are easy to work with or not. I’m saying that when it comes to these large deals, it’s about the company’s best interests, and the decision will be made by a large number of both formal and informal decision-makers.

Short, sweet and relevant

To sum up: ABM content must be relevant from a business point-of-view, consider collective and individual interests, but also be easy to grasp and overview, concrete but inspiring, and preferably short and sweet. Clearly, it is a lot to take in, but there are some surprisingly easy solutions. 

But, rather than me writing a boring ten-pager, describing the process from strategy to completed ABM-plan, and how it can be applied to support cross selling, pipeline acceleration, boosting the outcome of your framework agreements…

Best, Johan Sundstrand, CEO Freya News


What to consider when creating an ABM content strategy

The organization

  • What problems can you solve for the organization? 
  • How can you help to increase revenue, reduce costs or minimize business risk?
  • What are their alternatives: Postponing a difficult decision, using another supplier or simply doing nothing?
  • What is the buying journey like? 
  • Where are the obstacles, and when do they take the next step forward? 
  • What about business plans, budgets and investment horizons? Policies? Sustainability considerations?

Internal stakeholders

  • Who decides what and who influences whom? 
  • What are their needs and pains? 
  • How would that influence the individuals? 

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