Remember when you had to declare a major in college? It was an exciting time. It meant you were making a choice for your future, and that sense of clarity felt pretty reassuring (whether or not that major ended up relating to the job you have today, but I digress). With that goal in mind, you still had to find a way to get there.
I remember meeting with my advisor and telling her why I wanted to major in creative writing. I had done my research and made my case for that particular path. We looked at what that major required in terms of coursework, and we mapped out everything I’d need to do to pull it off. I left the meeting knowing exactly what resources I needed to leverage in order to reach my end goal.
Account-based marketing can be very similar.
Think of a certain account that you know your company would love to have as a client or partner. A relationship with that prospect is like that college diploma; it’s the goal you’re working toward. Now, ask yourself what you need to do to actually land that account. What resources do you need to create and leverage to speak directly to them and reach that goal?
It might seem like there are endless resource possibilities, but our company has found one that works like a charm, and it’s quite simple: content.
Content can be used in many ways, including to reach and influence a very specific audience — even a specific audience member. The process isn’t unlike how you create content for a general audience, but it does go a little deeper.
Rather than create and use content for overall buyer personas or for points on a general consumer journey, which can apply to any number of accounts, you develop and distribute content for a specific industry or company.
By researching your target’s industry as a whole and this company’s unique pain points, you can create content that’s custom-fit for its exact wants and needs. And when you deliver that personalized information directly — and do it consistently enough — you position yourself as the solution that understands the company and its challenges better than any other potential partner.
After you’ve identified the specific accounts you’d like to partner with and researched their industries, specific pain points, and unique partnership opportunities, it’s time to align your sales and marketing teams. Here’s how you can use content to directly influence specific accounts:
Sharing content directly with a lead is a great way to get a conversation started or to revisit one after it’s gone cold. Let’s say you managed to connect with a lead at a conference, and you’re planning some follow-up emails, but you want to follow up in a way that stands out and gets a response.
At the conference, your lead mentioned that her company’s marketing department is struggling to prioritize content distribution — and your company recently put together a comprehensive guide on content distribution and a case study about how you helped a similar company address the same problem.
This would be a great opportunity for you to connect her to resources that provide education around a specific topic that’s causing her pain. By doing so, you can build trust, encourage advocacy, and strengthen your relationship.
It’s true that creating content consistently can fuel your social distribution strategy by helping you regularly share new and relevant ideas. Another benefit to social media is that it gives you the ability to use social data to start these sales conversations with the right people in your target account’s company.
Communicating and sharing content with a lead directly on social is fair game and, believe it or not, a method that works really well. Try messaging your lead on LinkedIn, tweeting at her, or sending her a direct message with personalized content you think she’d find valuable based on your research.
In addition to personalized, one-on-one outreach, drip campaigns are an incredibly effective way to nurture your specific audience members. That’s because emails offer ongoing education and touchpoints to your audiences — like different tiers of leads, general subscribers, current clients, and more — and that means you have the ability to segment them further to engage even more specific audiences.
Design your drip campaign in a way that is highly segmented and puts your various content to use by speaking directly to each of those segments. Think through the unique questions, concerns, objections, and challenges that each segment presents, and identify content that addresses them. Use that to build your campaigns and ensure your recipients receive the most personalized content available.
If you’re already creating content, you likely understand how it can be used to attract and engage an audience. To practice account-based marketing, you’ve just got to drill down deeper to influence those specific accounts. Content can — and should — be used as a tool to target and influence the right leads for your company. With this advice, it’s time to get started.
Natalie Slyman is a content marketing and social media professional. She enjoys reading her favorite blogs, perusing Instagram, and talking about her cats (even when no one is listening).