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Want More Business? Narrow Content Focus to Targeted Accounts

Editor’s note: Given the vital role technology plays in achieving content marketing success, we’re taking a closer look at how today’s thought leaders are bringing unique perspectives and personal experiences to the work they do in this space.  

We often think of business growth in terms of “more” – reaching more people, delivering more content, selling more products, and so on. It’s one of the reasons content marketers heavily rely on tech solutions to speed up their processes and scale their campaigns.

We asked Brian Finnerty, vice president of growth marketing at Demandbase, the category creator in Account-Based Marketing, about the main challenges facing B2B marketers today and what he sees as the most important qualities for modern marketers who want to grow their businesses.

Meet Brian

Childhood aspiration: A very famous professional soccer player

College degree: M.A, English; B.A., English and German

Got his start as: Technical writer for an e-learning company during the dot-com boom

What he loves about marketing: It allows me to use both sides of my brain: the creative side, where I can generate material that’s interesting and engaging to people, and the scientific part, which I can use to measure the impact that content has

Productivity playlist: Start Me Up (Rolling Stones); Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana); The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn (The Pogues)

On marketers’ biggest challenge

The single biggest challenge I hear from B2B marketers is that traditional demand-gen efforts have fallen into a cycle of diminishing returns. It’s simply getting harder to generate enough pipeline to support their sales teams.

Biggest challenge for #B2B marketers? Traditional demand gen produces diminishing returns, says @brianfinnerty via @cmicontent. #ContentTECH #ABM Click To Tweet

Be conscious of scaling your growth marketing efforts by focusing on a target list of accounts. Once those accounts have been identified, engage the buying committee at in-market accounts so that your budget is really focused on activities that will generate pipeline. Failing to focus on your best-fit accounts is a true growth inhibitor as you’re wasting budget trying to engage people in the wrong accounts who will never convert to becoming a customer.

Where tech solutions help most

The customer journey typically follows a long and winding path. It’s not uncommon for members of the buying committee to visit your website multiple times in a week and then go dark for an extended period.

Pushing real-time alerts to your sales team once that account becomes active again is a really good way to interact with key contacts at that account when interest in your solution peaks again. This second (round of) interaction is often the decisive one for decision makers. Having an ABM platform that triggers these kinds of sales notifications is particularly effective in winning new business.

Push real-time alerts to #sales when an account becomes active again on your site, advises @brianfinnerty via @cmicontent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

What tech can’t do

For all the many benefits campaign automation offers, technology does not remove the creative burden from marketers. Both content and advertising must engage prospects at a human level and inspire them to action. Simply reaching the right people is not enough – you need to reach them with a compelling message that inspires action.

The ideal scenario is a blend of excellent creative that is personalized to an individual’s company, role, or stage of the buying process. This will help marketing messages to resonate with the desired target audience and stand out from the noise.

On sales and marketing collaboration

Close alignment between sales and marketing is a key aspect of account-based marketing. No more bickering over dead-end leads from marketing or shoddy follow-up by sales. Growth nirvana is getting both sales and marketing on the same page around your ideal customer profile, developing content that drives engagement from your target accounts, and tracking intent signals from key contacts on the buying committee within those accounts. It’s simply a much more focused and efficient way to run marketing.

Growth nirvana = #sales and #marketing on the same page, says @brianfinnerty via @cmicontent. #ContentTECH #ABM Click To Tweet

On what he’s learned and what he would teach to others

It’s incumbent on a modern marketer to be able to talk about emerging issues, think about them, and articulate an opinion on them. It starts with being an absolute consumer of content. Read The New York Times, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries on big-picture thinkers like Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates. You can’t read enough or download enough information, but if you’ve got a good way of curating content, it will be a real asset throughout your career.

I always try to keep a curious, open mindset. Being willing to take risks and take on new challenges is an important mindset for marketers because it’s such a fast-evolving landscape and there are so many new tools and technologies out there. As a marketer, you always have to keep an eye out for those big seismic shifts.

Expand how you think about marketing technology

The most promising players in the tech space understand that simply adding volume or velocity is no longer enough to put your content initiatives on a sustainable path to marketing success and business growth. Marketing technology should direct your efforts toward the accounts that are in-market, showing clear buying signals for your solution. It’s also critical to be a continual learner if you want to stay on top of evolving martech and adtech trends and opportunities.

What are you looking to learn more about in the marketing technology landscape? What inspiring voices are helping to expand your industry vision? Tweet your thoughts to @CMIContent using #ContentTECH.  

Join us at ContentTECH Summit this August in San Diego to further your connection to content marketing and technology in real life. Check out the agenda today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute