David McGuire from UK-based copywriting agency Radix did a great post recently on Account-Based Marketing (ABM). I won’t repeat his excellent explanation. But suffice it to say it’s all about focusing your marketing efforts on the very specific subset of prospects who have a genuine need (and budget) for what you’re selling.
It’s the most expensive way to sell, but can be useful for big ticket products that a relatively few customers need. It’s not, as Radix points out, a new idea. But, as Radix points out, it requires content that is far more focused on each specific customer than the customary “one size fits all” content many marketers produce.
Producing that content requires specific skills on the part of a writer. McGuire says that to turn out highly-focused ABM content a copywriter must:
- Do enough research to understand the specific issues facing each targeted account
- Write well enough to capture the imagination of each account, with…
- …the understanding to deliver the most relevant information without wasting their time…
- …and the soft skills to push back on marketers that want to use overly technical language or marketing the account won’t care about.
Let’s assume you’re launching an ABM campaign and are looking for content, and writers, to populate it. Here are some tips for ensuring either your internal writers or outside contractors meet the content bar for ABM.
Content Tips for ABM
A good writer will ask questions like:
What’s the concrete business benefit? How will your solution increase sales or reduce costs?
What existing applications and platforms is this customer running, and how does that affect whether your solution is right for them?
What are the strategic challenges this customer is facing? (Customer retention, chronically low margins, competition from disruptive competitors?) And, again, how might your solution help this specific customer?
What is their corporate culture – aggressive and risk taking, or conservative and hemmed in by regulations? How does our solution fit with this culture?
Who are the critical decision makers? How many of them are there, and how do their priorities agree or conflict? Which of them needs to be convinced first before moving the buying decision up the command chain?
Besides the “sniff” test (do you like their writing) some objective criteria include:
Is the content based on the specific client’s needs, or just a superficial tweak of generic content?
Does it read like an objective story in a trade publication or an analyst report (good) or a piece of marketing fluff (bad)?
Is the content useful and/or interesting enough that you would pass it on to a colleague?
Is it clear enough that your parent/partner/friend who is not in the IT industry could understand the value proposition?
Does it include a three paragraph “elevator pitch” a reader can absorb in 30 seconds or less?
Does the opening paragraph grab this specific customer’s attention with compelling new information designed for them, or bog down in the same messaging you use with all your customers?
Does it reinforce the relevance for each prospect by repeatedly explaining how what you’re telling them helps them with their specific challenges?
Does the writer insist on spelling out and explaining acronyms, even if you think the prospect understands them? (You’ll be amazed how many people around the decision making table have nowhere near the understanding of technology you have as a seller.)
Once the writer has asked you to explain something, do you feel like you yourself understand it better? (If you do, the customer will as well.)
If the writer challenges wording as too technical or confusing, can they offer replacement text that is both clearer and accurate?
Now, how is Account-Based Marketing changing the type of copywriting you need and how you work with writers? Is it best to bring the writer in after you’ve decided what you want to say, or give them a say in honing the value proposition and messaging? And do you feel comfortable with letting mere writers push back on your messaging? Let me know how we writers can do a better job at ABM.