A top trending fad or the future of marketing? Whichever way you look at ABM (Account-Based Marketing), the reality is that in the new digital world, you can’t ignore the buyer’s expectation for a more personalised, tailored experience, especially given how good B2C marketing has become at personalisation. We work with a lot of large IT vendors and systems integrators, helping them build value propositions centred around customer experience: Big Data analytics providers promising to make creating real insight about your end-customers easier, contact centre providers offering new personal ways to interact with customers through Chatbots and AI… it’s all there in black and white. So, if that’s the future for the services market, isn’t it about time marketing caught up?

As Forrester says, ‘Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle.’ Account-based marketing has been around for some time; initially it was the smaller, more agile businesses that were able to take this approach, developing their marketing strategy for specific accounts. But big businesses are catching on now. As the legacy big marketing budgets of the past continue to be squeezed, all marketing departments are faced with the challenge of getting more bang for their buck. A lot of teams are actively training in ABM, with the understanding that a more tailored approach will reap greater success and ROI.

So, the big question – is it going far enough? Is creating a single approach for a specific business, where there are multiple stakeholders, buyers and importantly, influencers, all with their own personal challenges and reason to succeed, enough to stand you apart? Or could persona marketing be what ABM strategies are really missing?

To understand the people to whom you are marketing can be a daunting task – to get under their skin, learn what makes them tick and keeps them awake at night – but the rewards certainly outweigh the effort. And, if you don’t have the skill set or resource capacity within your teams, there are lots of people out there with the capability to help.

For example, we now include persona development within our value proposition creation. By understanding who you are trying to reach and why, you can build a more compelling VP that resonates not just with the IT buyer but across the business, to all the influencers that your solutions may impact or help. This approach also goes a long way with sales teams, getting them to elevate their pitch above the traditional IT manager contacts, out to the C-level and other heads of business such as CFO, CMO and the less familiar CDO (Chief Data Officer).

By making this investment upfront, it becomes much easier to flow your value proposition into your go-to-market strategy. Understanding what your personas want to read, how they consume content, where they go to get information or share their insights, what events they attend etc., can make sure you make the right choices and investments when it comes to the marketing mix.

But persona marketing is not just about understanding more about your end-customers. Last year we worked on a project with an engineering company to create a portal for their internal teams. Rather than just create ‘one-size-fits all’ content, we started first by understanding the different groups of users that the portal was addressing. We interviewed people from each of those groups to find out what they did day-to-day – how they accessed content, what type of information they needed, how often they were in the office, or whether they accessed data from their mobile devices out on the road. We asked them if they preferred words or pictures. PDFs or word documents. We even understood what types of interfaces they preferred down to the use of colour and icons. The end result? An Amazon marketplace-style portal where people were free to search and select information in the way that worked best for them. They could even leave star rating reviews of the tools – something incredibly important to them yet not something we would have thought about, had we not taken the time to develop the personas.

So, if you are looking to make a splash with your value propositions and create real traction with your ABM, or simply want to engage your teams more effectively, persona development could be just the ticket.

We would love to hear from you about your own experiences with persona marketing and ABM. Get in touch with nick@coterie.global.

Nick Smith
Client Director