Account-based marketing is a big concept when first considering and it takes patience to implement, but it’s worth the marathon. Account-based marketing is targeted marketing meant to engage specific and targeted accounts with each campaign.
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About Our Guest(s):
Senior Account Executive - Concentrek
Director of Content Marketing - Concentrek
Our guests are George Mergen and Allyson Jansen from Concentrek, a strategic marketing agency based out of Toledo, Ohio. George is the Senior Account Executive and Allyson is the Director of Content Marketing. They help a wide variety of clients in different industries with long-term goals and strategic planning.
We sat down with them to discuss both account-based and content marketing. Businesses use content marketing more and more as consumers grow tired of sales pitch after sales pitch. More are seeking information and knowledge from businesses instead of catchy or appealing ads. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. A marketing strategy is not complete without embracing account-based marketing.
Halie Morris 0:31
Hello everyone, and welcome to Everyday Business Solutions.
My name is Halie Morris, I’m your podcast coordinator and host as always.
Today, I have Allyson and George with me. I’m going to go ahead and let them introduce themselves because I don’t think anyone can do it better.
So if the two of you don’t mind?
George Mergen 0:47
I’m George Mergen, the Senior Account Executive with Concentrek.
Allyson Jansen 0:52
I’m Allyson Jansen, I’m the Director of Content Marketing at Concentrek.
Concentrek is a small to midsize agency that has a wide variety of clients in a wide variety of industries covering a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to automotive to consumer goods and services. And one of the things that we pride ourselves on most is making everything that we do is in a house under one roof.
All right, well, thank you for that introduction.
I know it’s always good to get to know who we’re talking to. Now, today, the topic, we’re actually going to be talking specifically about marketing and a bit about sales as well. And so what the two of you specialize in is account-based marketing and content marketing.
So we’re really going to lead off because I think we’re all getting pretty familiar with content marketing, we’re really going to lead off with this definition of what account-based marketing is, because I know we’ve talked a little bit about it. I’m really curious to dive into it, especially for the listeners’ sake, to really define what it is. So if you guys don’t mind.
Can you describe account-based marketing for me?
So it’s a focus growth strategy that works to align collaborative efforts with marketing sales, and with tailored experiences for your most qualified profitable accounts.
So unlike traditional outbound marketing, to the masses, account-based marketing is more precise, more targeted, and a little more accurate. It’s about processing efficiency, with account-based marketing it takes time. It’s not a sprint, it’s more of a marathon.
We went to a lot of seminars, and we worked with a lot of clients, a lot of the things that we hear about some of the seminars, from some of the speakers that they have. It’s who’s doing it, right, who a lot of times will introduce this, and we’ll talk about that. See show hands, and a lot of people think that they are, they do have it kind of all figured out, but the truth is that it takes a little bit of time, there’s a lot involved with it. You know, there’s a lot to consider.
Thank you. I think for me, it’s very interesting, where I’m new to the marketing world, I came from recruitment, so it’s a little bit different.
But as we kind of dive into this more, if somebody is looking at doing account-based marketing, what are some of the things that they consider? What is realistic? What they should have in mind when it comes to you know, “it’s not a sprint, it is a marathon,” Does that mean it’s going to be long term?
So what are those barriers to implementation? What is that road going to look like? And what things do they need to have set up first?
George Mergen 3:52
Yeah, that’s a great question.
The big thing is that it’s really kind of a culture change. Typically, marketing would hand off to sales, and they’d say, hear us this didn’t work, yes or no. And a lot of times, you know, there’s this plane back and forth, in terms of what’s working and what’s not.
So I think it really comes down to like a lack of communication, and understanding of account-based marketing. Foundationally that’s one thing that has to be really kind of established and known prior to moving forward.
You’ve got to break down those barriers between sales and marketing. And that’s one of the biggest hurdles. There’s a big, it’s a big collaborative effort, like we said.
So from this whole strategic workflow, from the beginning to the end, that includes everything like your goals, your objectives, your mark on planning that could even involve workshops getting together initially at the onset.
Then before you go into all of your content development, and it’s important for that, the both of those groups to be aligned all the way through this process, even all the way in to where you talk about metrics and performance. Then that way, everybody’s in at the same time, there’s no shift of that blame. It works both ways.
So it’s sort of easy to abandon this process when not everybody’s bought in holistically. The important thing is to stay with it, it takes time. Right? And that’s what a lot of the companies and organizations find it difficult to do; they want to quickly move out of that.
So stay with it. That’s important.
Thank you, George.
Then I was gonna say it does sound a bit difficult, it does sound like something like you said, that could be easy to abandon.
So what are some of the benefits? What are those things that would actually allow somebody into working towards account-based marketing?
George Mergen 5:41
So I think that if what it comes down to is a lot of good, consistent collaboration, that definitely is very strong. When marketing and sales can align. That’s another good thing.
So we talked about that handoff between marketing and sales, when you can break that barrier down, that’s going to strengthen a lot of your efforts. you strengthen customer loyalty, you know, a custom one to one, segmentation is always going to be better, and you’re increasing that lifetime value score also of that customer.
I agree, that’s a huge thing. What type of businesses would actually be the ones to embrace this or that you see being the ones to embrace it?
George Mergen 6:22
Yeah, so this is a B2B strategy.
Typically, enterprise organizations, large with about 1000 employees or more, are usually the ones that are benefiting the most from that. Organizations that know their accounts the best.
That’s where sales can come in, for example, when marketing needs a little bit more information on customers, or sales teams, the ones out in the field. They’re the ones that know the customer. The best are the closest to them.
So that’s why that collaboration is so important.
I’m curious, do you think you could look at a smaller business unit embracing this or like adapting it in some form or another?
George Mergen 6:58
Yeah I think that’s important, too.
I mean, companies that are looking to shorten a long buying journey or companies that have a misaligned sales model, it’s important for them as well and has your traditional marketing sort of stalled out.
This is always a good opportunity to interject this ABM strategy, a lot of companies are so focused on using inbound marketing and outbound marketing only.
But account-based marketing can really kind of help be an additional catalyst, if you will, to really get that. Get that whole package put together and really work for your benefit.
Then just kind of piggybacking off that, you mentioned traditional marketing.
So how do those two compare? Let’s actually compare the traditional versus the account-based.
Allyson Jansen 7:45
I think George has kind of touched on, you know, for companies that are trying to sort of shortening their lead time, you know, that’s where the big difference comes in, comes in. I mean, the traditional marketing process is pretty multi-step, it can get pretty lengthy.
It also does focus quite a bit on more of that outbound methodology where you’re cold calling, and you’re cold-emailing, and you’re reaching out to people, predominantly with a sales message.
When you look at ABM, it’s a more streamlined process, you’re more focused on getting in front of people as a resource, versus positioning yourself as you know, a sales message or just specifically trying to talk through what you want from the customer. Rather than you’re focusing more on what the customer is going to want from you.
So you look at it more as more of a four-step process. And part of that is just presenting custom content. It’s getting in front of the people that you’re interested in talking to those very narrow down prospects, those very narrow down leads, and giving them content that they’re now going to look at you and say. This is a resource. This is someone I trust, this is someone I’m going to want to work with moving forward.
Thank you for that, Allyson.
I think it’s very interesting because we’ve mentioned a couple of times now this idea of sales and marketing working together, which I feel like kind of should be like, “Oh, yeah, they do work together”.
But in reality, I think a lot of us see sales and marketing as that baton being passed off and there’s not as much frequent communication as maybe there should be.
So what are some of those things that we can do? Or what are some of those ways that we should look at the sales and marketing team and make it more of a joint effort?
Allyson Jansen 9:23
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That’s a great question.
On our end, we kind of look at it as you know, a lot of it just comes back to communication, which I think George had touched on a little bit earlier. We are finding companies that we worked with their marketing teams, and, in tandem with us, have been putting out some really great content, blogs, white papers, and videos.
Then when they approached the sales team about it. The sales team had no awareness of it. These are all resources that they could very easily integrate within their own sales processes. They’re things that they can very easily send to their customers to create that value.
So when we kind of look at it, it just gets marketing a little more involved within the sales team. If sales teams have weekly meetings, have marketing sit in every once in awhile, have them say, hey, here are the latest things that we’ve been working on.
On the other side of it, we always sort of suggest talking to your sales team about what the content should be, you know, they’re the ones that are in front of their customers day to day, they’re the ones who know what the pain points are and sort of what their customers need.
So we can then tailor the content to meet those needs, you know, we’re absolutely filling that gap, where they can go back to their customer and say, We heard you we understand this was a pain point you were having, here’s a piece of content that we created that should be able to help you.
The other side of it is making it as easy as possible for sales. We see how busy everyone is day-to-day, you know, another thing that we always suggest is just to create some sample communications.
So if you want your salespeople to send emails about the newest blogs, or the newest, white papers, put that together for them, put together a template that they can just filter in the most recent content, make their send a lot easier, if you’re looking to have them be more active on social media and you know, getting on LinkedIn and sharing content, put together a guidebook, help them understand how to do that. It’s a pretty large platform, and it offers a lot of opportunities, they might not know how to use it.
That’s no fault of their own, it’s just a matter of making sure that you’re not taking the time to educate and train them. From our perspective, that’s probably the biggest thing is just to communicate. Also to be willing to offer assistance as needed, whether it’s through drafting up the sample communications, or through creating a guidebook that they can follow. That’s obviously going to easily streamline the process a little bit more along the way.
I definitely agree.
It’s very interesting to hear, especially the take on email and social media, just because we create so many tools and so many resources. It doesn’t usually go past release from the marketing department, usually, the sales will try their own approach, or they’ll create their own like, post, or whatever.
But it’s more sporadic, and it’s usually just focused on the way they know how to directly acquire sales. It’s not as much that partnership as you mentioned.
George, did you have anything to add to that? That idea of how we can get sales and marketing to come more together?
George Mergen 12:16
Yeah, I think something else to touch on was the routine of education. That is important. We want the clients that we work with, you know, it’s making sure that they understand all the things that are developed and developed in a way where you’re sharing that constant information with them on what’s available. Whether it’s print, whether it’s digital, whether it’s e-marketing, all of that stuff. Also, share with them where it’s housed. A lot of them don’t know where to go to find it. We got to make it very simple for them to do that.
So, we’ve got routine, weekly meetings with clients and sales teams to go through all that stuff. And it extends a little bit beyond just sales. It can also involve a bigger group of organizations that involve engineering-type level, people can vote product development type people. They’re all important in understanding exactly where all these materials are, how to get to them, and how they can use the best with their customers.
I imagine they go a long way to helping to create them. Not just that sharing on them.
But I know from our point, we work with software, so trying to sometimes create some of those more complex materials, like the educational ones and stuff. I definitely don’t have all that knowledge on top of what I do, right. So.
George Mergen 13:38
Sometimes it’s hard for them to understand from a creative standpoint. They’d like to get into a meeting, they want to talk about creativity, they like to get very tactical, and that’s okay.
It’s just that, we talked about that big strategic workflow, they really need to be involved and have that input from the very beginning, when you’re doing the planning, and you’re doing the plan, organization, everybody kind of understands what each goal, objectives, and strategies are, and what their accountabilities are, right?
If they’re, if they’re held to, to meet a specific metric or a revenue goal, then that needs to come out kind of in that upfront, so that you can plan accordingly. Then continuously communicate and collaborate on ways to develop that content.
So that it is meeting those objectives. It’s turning those accounts faster in resonating with the customer in the right way. I know that we’ll talk a little bit more about content marketing, but that’s, what’s gonna that’s a big part of how you get their attention.
Yeah, it’s it everybody wants to get into a meeting and talk about how nice an ad looks. But there’s, there’s a lot more to it involved. I think that constant sharing back and forth is so critical.
I would agree.
Then speaking kind of content marketing before we get too much farther with this idea. I know Allyson, you have a lot of experience with that.
So do you want to talk to us more about content, marketing, and How it specifically ties into the account based?
Allyson Jansen 14:57
So I think, you know, as we’ve touched on a little, the big thing that we’re finding with account-based marketing is that you want to customize it for who you’re targeting and your leads are so much more streamlined.
I mean, you have a smaller pool that you’re fishing from, essentially. And so what we’re trying to figure out is a way that you can get in front of these people and showcase your own value as a company.
I think the biggest thing that we’ve worked on in content marketing always is that it basically is a lot like ABM. The fact that it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. You’re not going to publish a blog and immediately have 15, new customers sign up.
But you are going to publish a blog and you are going to be able to promote it across your channels and have your salespeople share it and have your other internal team members share it, and you’re going to gain some of that brand awareness. And then when that person goes to the point of purchase, they remember your name, they remember who you are, and they remember why you bring value to the table.
So that’s a lot of where we see the content marketing filtering in is that you are creating these resources. It not only arms your sales team, but it arms your organization as a whole in general. Where if someone comes to your website or someone goes to your LinkedIn page as a company, they’re going to see all of this value, and they’re going to be more inclined to communicate with you and work with you.
The big thing that we always try to push is that you have to move away from being a salesperson at this point. We’ve kind of gone that way for a long time now. Especially this year as everything has shifted with the sales process. As people have to get more creative, a little more digital-focused – creating good content is key for succeeding in the long term when it comes to that.
Getting in front of these people and asking them, what do you need, and then creating something that will answer that need, because that’s really the best way that you’re going to build these relationships and make the sales in the long term.
I just don’t think people aren’t responding anymore to you know, you demanding their attention, and you just kind of getting in front of them with your message. They want you to ask questions, they want you to be there to you know, answer their needs.
So that’s where content marketing fits perfectly. It just fits perfectly into ABM and helps streamline this process and make it a lot more valuable for the salespeople. Especially as they’re out in the field trying to get in front of these people.
George Mergen 17:19
Yeah, that’s a good point.
So it’s not like we buy a room…we move through the buying journey as we go out and online and buy anything. We’re making decisions, we’re becoming aware of a need that we have, we’re differentiating, we’re educating ourselves, and we’re getting pretty far down this purchase pathway.
Then we make the decision and we do the conversion to sale. That’s pretty much the way that that journey happens for a lot of people in the same instance when you can interrupt that journey with content marketing in a way that provides us the resource, and the go-to. We always like to use the term “go-to” for the “how-to” for one of our clients.
It really sorts of puts that into perspective and allows you to really kind of make sure that you’re grounded in the sense that you’re providing content at the right time in the right place along that journey.
I feel like it’s a lot of what you’re seeing now with more brands doing social media and maybe their stories and sometimes just their posts in general.
It’s more education-based versus being like, “here’s my product- isn’t it so pretty”.
Sometimes you’ll have a brand, they’ll just post something motivational. Then that gets high engagement.
George Mergen 18:43
Yeah, there’s a lot of confusion between branded content and content marketing to the point where so many clients always think that you’ve got to brand the beginning and add your brand marker at the end. You’ve got to tell in between that exactly how much better quality it is and how much better price it is and competitors.
But if you truly provide something of value in putting that little bit of recognition and recall, the customer may not be buying that day chances of them remembering and recalling your brand and your product because they had a positive experience with it in this type of interactive engagement with the content, you’re gonna be better off. You’ll get that recognition and recall at a later time when they are in the market.
Right! That’s such a good point, George!
I think too, you know, there are a lot of companies out there that have big-ticket items. I mean, you’re selling products that are thousands of dollars, and so someone sees you on LinkedIn or Facebook or wherever else, they’re not necessarily going to click and purchase there and then. They might not even need your product at that point.
But if they remember that your brand was the one that posted an article that they read that helped them solve this problem, okay, in six months and eight months, whenever they might need to purchase that and they’re willing to make that big investment. They’re going to be more willing to purchase from you because they’re going to remember your brand name and you’re going to set yourself apart from the competition. I think you know, we always remind people to treat social and how you act on social as a brand as you would want to be served content.
I don’t want to get on Facebook and have brands throwing their products at me. Saying “buy buy buy” “purchase us, we’re the best”. I do want to get on Facebook if I’m having an issue with something related to my dog or something and I see an article that relates to that from a dog brand company, you know, I’m going to go back to that brand and I’m gonna be more likely to trust them as someplace that I want to purchase from moving forward.
So a lot of it just comes back to, you know, speak to your audience the way that you want to be spoken to, you know, we’re all human. And I think that that communication point is really big when it comes to content marketing. And as it relates to sales, as well.
From my side, I see a lot more people- because even if you’re doing B2B, you’re still dealing with the same people- they want the relationship and the trust before doing anything else.
They like it when it comes to the brand. I know that this brand always provides accurate information about this topic and usually, it aligns then with whatever you’re doing as a company.
But it’s something of value that you’ve provided first, that they’ve built up that trust and awareness for you. If they have to make, like you said, that big $1,000 to $2,000 purchase, and they swing back around, they’re going to immediately think what’s reliable, what’s worth the investment.
Just that thought of they’ve already provided me value and reliability with content I didn’t even have to pay for is going to be at the forefront of their mind.
Yep, exactly. Perfectly said.
It’s about finding that right balance. We talked to a lot of our clients about not everything that you put out has to be content marketing, but not everything you put out should be branded content.
So it’s just finding that right balance and providing that layer if you will. I think that they complement each other very nicely. What we often find out is that when buying the sponsored content type of media, a content-rich type of media is a little bit more expensive than your more frequency media.
But I think that it’s important to have both. You definitely want to put a lot of critical mass in the market with a lot of advertising that is out there and it’s resonating, but the sponsored content that isn’t necessarily as a brand is just as important.
So out of that deeper connection that you want to get to as we said before, that was the reason we created this podcast.
Coming in and creating this, we’re telling people okay, we’re not selling the product through the podcast. We’re connecting to people through the podcast. We’re building up those relationships.
I like it, too. From the marketing standpoint, I’m sure you guys might see this, too, sometimes with content marketing, it’s an enjoyable way to break up what you’re already doing, but also be able to share some of that expertise.
We as people, we love to share when we feel we have something valuable.
Yeah, that’s a great point, Halie.
A lot of time too, the more you can interject a little bit of human nature into it. Even telling the testimonials and stories behind your content.
I think that’s important so that you’re not always perceived as the authority that is selling something and you’re developing your content that way. I think that a lot of the time, the more you can bring in that human element, it personalizes it for people and it brings it down a little bit. It makes a big difference.
Right? We have definitely seen greater success when there’s a face to the brand, essentially. It’s something that we’ve talked about with our clients before.
People want to see your employees. They want to hear from your customers. They want to know exactly who’s behind the brand because you have to remember. your brand is essentially just some big name. It’s vague.
No one really fully understands you until they can see what’s behind the curtain. So we always recommend, obviously, with the content marketing side, is to pull the curtain back.
Show who is working on your stuff. Show who works within your company. Show who’s purchasing your products and how they’re using them.
That comes back to user-generated content, which is extremely helpful as well. People want to see the actual application of if a person has purchased this product, now, let’s see what they did with it in their real life? How does that apply to me and what I need for my real-life usage?
So we always just say, give a face to the brand. It’s the best way that you can really set yourself apart from the competition and get a little bit ahead on your channels.
I agree. Thank you. I think we’re getting to a great point to wrap up.
So with that being said, did you guys want to give your own tidbit of advice for somebody who’s considering account-based marketing, trying to refine their content marketing, and work more closely with our sales team? Do you have any advice?
Yeah, I’m always going to come back to just staying with it. It’s that marathon, like we talked about. That’s important. So often, because of this big culture shift, this change, it’s not comfortable for a lot of organizations to make this transition.
Like I said, they want to abandon it and the most important thing is to really stay with it. Keep at it. Those routine routine meetings, those conversations, those communications that happen back and forth and to break down the silos, that has to happen continuously.
It may be sluggish. You may not get a lot of communication back and forth initially, but you have to struggle through those calls.
Sometimes they can be different, those interactions face-to-face, but you have to stay with them. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to get over that hurdle and break that down.
No, that’s a great point. I would say, the other thing is to just focus on the education side of it. I really do think that it’s a struggle at first because you’re going to go to people who aren’t active on social potentially or aren’t really familiar with what content marketing is.
We’ve seen it 1,000 different times where you’re not going to really have someone who just inherently understands.
If I go to my company’s LinkedIn page and share posts, what is that going to do? So if you’re able to take the time upfront, and put together the resources, the training, presentations and whatever else, and really help not only your colleagues, but also leadership understand the value of it.
You’re going to succeed more in the long term. As George said and we’ve both said many times, it is a marathon.
So there is some struggle with that. You’re not going to see these immediate results one or two weeks after you start integrating these new processes.
If you have an educated team and you have educated leadership on that slower-moving process is ultimately going to see better results, but you’re going to have to have that buy in the whole way as you go through the long process.
Alright. I thank both of you for coming on. Allyson and George, I really appreciate your time.
I also appreciate the time of our listeners. So thank you for tuning in for another episode of Everyday Business Solutions. We’ll see you next week. Thank you!