CO - Markinnovation

Why Content is the true north of Account-based Marketing? - Part I

Why Content is the true north of Account-based Marketing? - Part I

At a recent conference, I was asked rather unexpectedly by a senior business executive,

“What do you think is the purpose of marketing in the B2B world?”

It isn’t often that you are asked to define the raison d'être for your entire creed.

“To enable customers make more informed buying decisions about things they need in order to run and grow their businesses.”

Okay, I wasn’t that articulate and the second-half of that response emerged after a couple of minutes, I admit. But this is what I have truly come to believe, as someone who morphed into a marketer halfway through his career, but is still conditioned to think like a consultant he began as.

According to Wikipedia, the phrase "content marketing" was used as early as 1996, by John F. Oppedahl who led a roundtable for journalists at the American Society for Newspaper Editors. The proliferation and omnipresence of the web and social since have meant that on the one hand, everyone is a publisher and on the other that marketers had a choice other than advertising.

Having been an early adopter of content and account-based approach to marketing strategy and planning, I have been convinced all along of the sheer power of content. Content that is meaningful and genuinely enriches your customer’s perspective will naturally drive demand and conversions for your brand. But that is the natural order of things or rather a natural byproduct of good content.

Much is being written and said on developing a compelling Content Strategy and I do find >Contently and >Content Marketing Institute newsletters useful. But I wanted to cite two other powerful sources of inspiration, which have helped shape my four-legged content strategy stool.

The foremost and by an order of magnitude is >Design Thinking. The first crucial leg in shaping and informing a good content strategy – is to Humanise. Yes, everyone believes they understand the power of storytelling and of personas in modern marketing. But who’s story? And yes, personas are a leap forward from the gross generalisations called ‘segments’, but often personas are created in meeting rooms, not while observing customers. Close your eyes and visualize one of your customers. Does she fit the persona, or are we predisposed to visualizing her as only the persona we have developed? A clear case of >confirmation bias.

A Design Thinking approach lets you literally follow your customer along the journey, not limited to the touch-points with your brand alone. >Sirius Decisions, a leading B2B sales and marketing consultancy, refers to this deeper insight as – understanding your customer’s watering holes, as in where does your customer love to hang out frequently, both online and offline. How is your customer consuming content, which may not even be related to your brand story?

Marketers need to go out there. Beg your sales reps to let you accompany them for client or prospect meetings, until they do. Observe, listen, draw >rich pictures.

And when you’re back at your desk, double down on social listening, I am agnostic to what tool you choose. But literally follow your customers around both online and offline to truly be able to craft stories which aren’t for them, but theirs.

In the next blog, I will explore the next leg of this stool – contextualise.

  • Rahul Mudgal
    Rahul Mudgal
    Global Marketing Director DOCOMO Digital

    Rahul has over 17 years of experience in B2B marketing, account management, and consulting. Currently leading the global marketing at DOCOMO Digital, he is passionate about digital storytelling and design thinking and has been recognized as one of the top 50 marketers in 2016 by CMO Asia and by LinkedIn as a social selling expert. He is also an active member of the advisory board at the CMO Council.

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