By Benny Bridger, Director, B2B Digital and Social Media
ABM is the current darling of the B2B marketing world. Despite its rising popularity, it hasn’t made its way to all aspects of marketing — PR being one of them. This is a mistake. ABM and PR, together, will drive stronger results.
A PR program can support an ABM strategy with trustworthy, third-party earned media that speaks directly to challenges and needs of the specific companies and personas being targeted.
Much of the thought leadership around ABM champions content, personalization and concepts such as buyer personas. Yet few of these resources provide direction on how to integrate PR into an ABM strategy. Here is a roadmap to integrate PR into an ABM strategy from the get-go.
Engineering stories that serve targets & buyer personas
To integrate PR effectively, it must start in the planning phase. It requires close communication between product marketing, sales and PR around which specific companies and/or types of accounts are being targeted and which job titles are involved in consideration of the product or service.
This allows PR-specific buyer persona research — the basis for engineering and placing highly targeted narratives and articles. This must include:
- Topics of interest specific to that company — or type of company — and specific buyers (e.g. food safety for a director of operations at a restaurant)
- Trade publications (trusted outlets where they read about their craft and industry peers)
- Primary social platforms (the ones used by the specific people you’re trying to reach within that company or that profession, generally)
- Key challenges/insights within their industry or job role (company-specific or industry-wide trends)
Making PR a main hub of ABM content strategy
Content is the primary form of enablement for ABM. Marketers build eBooks, white papers and research studies around highly specific themes to deliver unique value for target accounts at each stage of the target customer(s) journey. However, PR can take ABM assets beyond the realm of owned content and add critical third-party validation.
By building off the details of the persona, PR teams can place tailored stories in business, trade and regional publications that are likely to catch sales targets’ attention, through direct outreach or organically.
The stories can take different forms:
- A thought leadership byline around vertical trends
- A testimonial or success story from a customer with similar challenges
- A story about winning a large customer in the new target’s geo
Any of these articles, placed in the right news outlets, should have large appeal to the target. It also provides all the typical marketing benefits (content that can be repurposed into owned or snackable social posts, increased company awareness, high-quality backlinks, qualified and interested traffic to the site).
Ensuring PR wins turn into sales enablement
An often-missing link between sales and marketing? Getting all the right assets, including earned media, into sales’ hands in a timely manner.
Given one of the most important sales tactics is validation (proof your company/product delivers real results beyond your marketing messaging), it’s critical that sales uses earned third-party “endorsements” in their outreach. It provides a fundamental advantage over traditional owned marketing content.
It allows sales reps to speak in a conversational manner and ask thought-provoking questions related to the article. This approach will break through and help build stronger relationships with prospects at target accounts versus company-issued announcements and content or automated email sequences, which may come off as spammy.
The value proposition of a product/service is more legitimate when a company’s message is personalized for the target buyer, is backed by news media and is supported with perspectives from trusted and targeted industry experts,
This earned media is the exact kind of high-quality enablement ABM execution needs — and its value can be scaled by repurposing the articles into promoted posts or ads geared toward the target account and buyers.