6 Skill Sets Every B2B Marketing Team Should Have On Its Roster

In order to execute an ABM campaign in 2020, you need a team filled with B2B experts-from forward-thinking copywriters to behind-the-scenes gurus.
September 17, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you’re like 15% of B2B marketers, your eyes are squarely focused on account-based marketing—but you haven’t fully invested in the strategic approach just yet. Account-based marketing, or ABM as it’s commonly known, flips classic marketing on its head, targeting a select number of high-value accounts while utilizing personalized content to generate qualified leads. ABM appeals to B2B companies across a range of industries because, quite frankly, it makes sense. With ABM, your ROI is higher, and both marketing and sales teams are in constant communication about what’s working, what’s not working, and the necessary next steps to achieve your KPIs.

If you’re reading this, though, you’ve probably already done your ABM research. You know how it works, you know why it works, and you know the types of accounts you want to target. There’s no use waiting around anymore; you’re only wasting precious time and resources focusing your efforts elsewhere.

Once you’ve made the decision to execute an account-based marketing strategy—and received the monetary approval from the CFO— your next task is building out an ABM team. Whether it’s a brand new team fully dedicated to account-based marketing or just a new direction for your current marketers and sales executives, there are several types of people you’ll need on your team in order to execute a dynamic, locked-and-loaded ABM campaign.

From creatives to developers, here are the six skill sets your account-based marketing team needs to succeed.

1. Art of the Written Word

B2B copywriters are easy to come by, but ABM copywriters, specifically, require a knack for nailing copy that appeals to a very specific person or audience. They have to know which words, phrases, and general ideas will appeal to a CMO—and they have to be able to alter that message to resonate with a Director of Operations. For example, if you’re trying to engage with a healthcare company in order to sell them your software, your ABM wordsmith should create content focusing on growth and revenue generation for a senior marketer, whereas a high-ranking member of the operations team will be more interested in the implementation of the service. And with ABM, the messaging has to be continuous. The ultimate ABM copywriter has the stamina and creativity to sustain a campaign from the awareness stage all the way through evaluation—and then continue to generate engaging copy as necessary.

2. Graphic Design Expertise

When it comes to designing an ABM campaign, experienced graphic and UX designers are critical. They should feel confident designing e-books, programmatic ads, and even podcast logos; ABM campaign creative assets truly run the gamut. While target accounts consume B2B content on multiple channels—including email marketing, LinkedInadvertising, and even direct mail—the visual messaging should be aligned. Branding guidelines and general awareness of when and where the targets interact with the content are instrumental for the design process.

3. Project Management Proficiency

Organization, organization, organization. While the right ABM software will automate a large portion of the process, a real, live human will keep all parties within the marketing and sales teams on track. Is the creative for the lead nurture email campaign ready and approved to launch? The sales team identified a new lead; what do they now need from the marketing experts? This type of employee can fall on either side of the marketing/sales spectrum, but they’re always well aware of the happenings taking place throughout the entire ABM campaign.

4. Analytical Ingenuity

No questions asked, your ABM team needs someone adept at taking a bird’s eye view of a campaign and aligning it with the granular details. They can spot everything from an account engaging at a higher rate than others to a missed opportunity when it comes to site conversion. The ideal team member with this skill is always pushing ahead and looking to reinvent the B2B marketing wheel. They may have seen another B2B software company’s ABM techniques and feel inspired to go one step further, asking the rest of the team, “How can we do this, but make it our own AND make sure it’s successful?”

5. An Eye for Budgeting

A trait that tends to fall under the “analytical” umbrella, budgeting in ABM focuses on the ever-important ROI. With a more focused strategy, 71% of marketers report they saw a higher ROI compared to previous non-ABM initiatives. But that high ROI isn’t just guaranteed. Your team needs someone, or multiple someones, to pay close attention to where and how the marketing budget is being spent. This type of marketer knows to hold back on PPC spend when an account is in the consideration stage of the sales funnel; the cost of keywords targeted at this stage is ultimately cost-prohibitive. And they’re not afraid to give a nod to a major spend on content marketing if they’re confident in the return.

6. Mastery of Operations

Finally, your team needs an individual with a keen familiarity of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and whichever ABM reporting platform you’re utilizing. They work behind the scenes to keep your ABM campaign up and running. Question about channel performance? They’ve got your answer—in just a couple of quick backend clicks. Wondering why a particular account is lagging? This person can identify a low-performing campaign and communicate numerical data to help inform the next strategic step.

At the end of the day, account-based marketing is a complete team effort. A successful ABM campaign combines creativity with hard-and-fast numbers, and it seamlessly marries marketing and sales efforts in order to keep your business growing quarter and quarter and year after year.

5 Branding Tips Every Entrepreneur Needs to Focus On

Effective branding is about much more than just making an impression. Here’s how to build your business by properly developing your brand.
September 14, 2020 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As an entrepreneur, you are who you are because you’ve decided to separate yourself from the crowd. You’ve got a good idea that you think is either totally unique or can be done better by you than anyone else. But that’s rarely enough to see your entrepreneurial dream become a reality.

Branding can be the difference maker between having a good idea and actually making an impact with customers and the market. Your brand is the perception about you and your company that’s shared by customers, partners, peers and the marketplace in general. Your brand includes the characteristics, qualities and emotions that come to mind when an audience considers your product or services.

Branding is the process of you creating that meaning. Whether you’re just beginning your entrepreneurship journey and need some guidance or you’re well along the way and want more growth-focused insights, these five tips can help you assess the next step in your brand development.

Related: 4 Actionable Ways to Build an Ecommerce Brand

1. Define your brand strategy

Before you begin your entrepreneurial journey, have a destination in mind. Before you conceptualize the functional elements of your brand (logo, colors, fonts, maybe even the name), you should have a clear understanding where you’re going:

  • What is your value proposition (i.e., what is the answer to a customer’s internal question “Why do I need you”)? Articulate what unique element you offer to the market.

  • Who is your audience? Identify the people you want to connect with.

  • What are your long-term goals for yourself and your company? Understand where you want to go and visualize how you’ll get there.

Defining your brand strategy acts as a map for your entrepreneurial journey. Having a destination in mind allows you to gauge your progress, make any necessary adjustments and not get lost along the way.

2. Build an appealing brand identity

Building an awful brand identity is simple: just offer garbage products or a terrible service and your brand will make an unforgettable impression in no time at all! However, a great product or outstanding service doesn’t always stand out in a crowded market. An appealing brand identity helps you connect your product or service to an enthusiastic audience.

Building an appealing brand that a) shares the correct message and b) connects with your audience requires substantial planning and, for best results, professional guidance:

  • Your brand is more than a catchy name or a dazzling logo (although those are nice to have). It results from a thorough auditing process that reveals your audience, value proposition, relationship to competitors and much more. Don’t skimp on compiling a full understanding of the elements that inform your brand.

  • Get yourself a name, logo and look that match your messaging. If your brand is all about reliability, confidence and competent service, you want your branding to reflect those characteristics by being professional and sophisticated. If your brand is playful and creative, those elements should create a bright and energetic impression.

  • Make sure you’re connecting with your audience as you intend. Once you understand your brand, you can make any refinements needed to ensure your audience is staying loyal and connected.

Related:The 3 Steps You Should Follow to Make Sure Your Brand Identity Efforts Build Value

3. Stay consistent

Branding helps create your identity, connects you to an audience and shares the answer to the vital “Why do I need you?” question. If you don’t stay consistent with your branding, guess what? You’ve wasted all that time, capital and hard work you invested, and you’re not back to square one, you’re actually further from your goal than when you began. Here’s why:

  • You no longer have a meaningful or trustworthy identity.

  • Your audience and customers are at best confused. More likely, they have already tuned you out and moved on…and you rarely get a second chance.

  • “Who, exactly, are you?” is the only question your audience will be asking.

Being consistent in your branding protects you from errant interpretations, customizations or just plain mistakes that confuse your audience, diminish trust and challenge loyalty. Consistency creates a more professional and competent impression and ensures your ability to stand out in the marketplace in the way you envision.

4. Be unique

“Why do I need you?” is the question customers ask internally when making decisions. Being unique can elevate the question to an exclamation: “I GOTTA HAVE YOU!” The physical elements of your brand identity can make you unique creatively and emotionally. Ensuring some element of your product or service is unique provides that extra oomph that makes customers prefer you over anyone else. Stay connected to what makes your vision unique in the marketplace.

Related:Connecting the World with Your Vision: 5 Expert Tips to Brand Your New Business

5. Create trust and build loyalty

You understand where you want to be, you’ve created a brand identity, you’re consistent and unique in what you’re doing…now it’s time to really lock in on your audience and sustain a relationship that’s built on trust and loyalty:

  • Deliver on value and quality.

  • Focus on customer experience rather than sales. You can’t control all the variables that lead to sales, but you can manage how your customers experience their interaction with you. Nurture and optimize that experience and the sales are likely to follow.

  • Be known by partners, peers and competitors within your segment. Having high visibility and demonstrating leadership marks you to your audience and potential customers as someone worthy of attention.

  • Listen to your audience and be part of the conversation. Engagement creates a deeper, more personalized connection that will sustain you, especially when you’re just getting started. These customers will be the brand ambassadors that widen your audience.

  • Respond positively to negative feedback. The first question to ask yourself is: Are they right? Evaluate whether you need to make adjustments and, if so, communicate that to your audience. However, not all feedback is created equal, and there are some people you just can’t please. If they are acting in good faith, thank them, apologize that you couldn’t give them a wonderful experience and move on.

These tips are just the beginning. They’re intended to provide a big-picture look that encourages you to think about branding as a process that results in a tool: your brand. That tool is extremely useful in guiding your journey and helping you reach your entrepreneurial goals.

Are you ready to get started?

Why Every Brand Should Have a Blog

A blog is one of the most effective ways to boost brand awareness and reach your target audiences by authoring content that is relevant to their searches. 
September 10, 2020 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This article was written by Alex Sixt, a member of the Entrepreneur NEXT powered by Assemble content team. Entrepreneur NEXT is our Expert solutions division leading the future of work and skills-based economy. If you’re struggling to find, vet, and hire the right Experts for your business, Entrepreneur NEXT is a platform to help you hire the experts you need, exactly when you need them. From business to marketing, sales, design, finance, and technology, we have the top 3 percent of Experts ready to work for you.

Social media. Newsletters. Video. You name it. When it comes to marketing a brand, there are seemingly thousands of options to choose from. Although every digital channel has something unique to offer, the first option brands should consider when enhancing their marketing strategy is a blog. Believe it or not, a blog is one of the most effective ways to boost brand awareness and reach your target audiences by authoring content that is relevant to their searches.

Before you race to your computer to click that “get started” button in WordPress, you’ll need to outline a few things, starting with finalizing your topic and focus. Establishing a topic will help you to determine the niche your blog will fit into, and showcase your brand as a market leader within the industry. To set your blog up for success from the beginning, consider your brand’s purpose and audience; this will help you identify the right keywords and phrases to ensure your blog will drive readers toward your website.

Even with the right blog positioning, Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tough topic for many entrepreneurs and business owners due to constantly shifting trends and algorithms. Regardless of your SEO experience, blogging is an excellent, user-friendly step to take toward driving more organic website traffic.

If you’re still skeptical about how blogging can contribute to your SEO, here are the top ways that a blog can be valuable to your brand:

Keep your website fresh.

If you’re like most of the population, when you stumble on a website that hasn’t been updated in years, you’re likely to exit immediately and never return. Google is the same way; when a website or its content hasn’t been updated for a while, it will move on past it to find the next best search result for the user. Therefore, websites that are updated have a much higher chance of ranking higher as a search result than pages that are stale.

Keeping an updated website doesn’t mean you’ll need to implement 24/7 content coverage, but it’s a best practice to release content at least once per week, if possible. By publishing fresh content, users will be more likely to trust that your brand is up-to-date on the latest in the industry and, therefore, more trustworthy. When a user feels your content is credible, they’re also more likely to share it across digital channels, greatly improving your SEO by generating more views for your post.

Related: SEO Needs to Be Apart of Your PR Strategy

Increases ‘dwell time.’

Dwell time is defined as the length of time a user spends looking at a webpage after they’ve clicked a link on a search engine results page (SERP), before returning back to the SERP results. It’s a key metric in determining how well your website is performing and can provide valuable insight related to what your audience seems to be most interested in. However, dwell time doesn’t only provide you with feedback; Google likely uses this metric in its algorithm to decide where a website ranks (this is not confirmed, but highly speculated by SEO Experts). The longer the dwell time, the more likely it is that your website ranking will rise.

The content you publish to your website plays a large role in increasing dwell time, as users are much less likely to spend any amount of time on a page they deem to be stale or outdated. It takes approximately 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave. What can you do to make the best impression in such a short amount of time? Publish content that is relevant and tailored to your specific audience. Most users will arrive at your website via some form of content, likely a blog post, and will stay if they feel the content answers a specific question or peaks an interest they have.

Related: How to Earn Your Client’s Trust (And Keep It)

The number one problem shared among entrepreneurs today is finding, vetting, hiring, and retaining expertise.

Identifies long-tail keywords.

For those just starting out with SEO, it can be tempting to only target the most relevant, obvious keywords for your industry. For example, a hair salon would likely use the keyword “hair salon” to show up in related results. However, this technique neglects the value of using more specific keywords that can benefit smaller businesses that may not rank as first in general searches, known as long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are more specific and gain less traffic but have a higher conversion rate due to fitting within more of a niche. Although relevant keywords should be included in blog posts, long-tail keywords that are more specific to an individual brand, rather than an industry, are incredibly valuable. Due to the incredibly competitive nature of SEO, your content has a higher chance of reaching your target audience with more specific keywords than those that are more general.

Although content that contains long-tail keywords may not attract as much traffic as opposed to more general keywords, the users who do land on your site should be much more likely to convert. Long-tail keywords can help you to identify specifically what your audience is interested in and pinpoint their needs by targeting more specific searches.

Related: How to Identify the Best Long-Tail Keywords

Learn about your audience.

So, you’ve done your research and created a blog that will cater content to your audience’s interests. That’s awesome, but the learning doesn’t stop once you hit “publish” on your blog page. As you begin to create content, it’s important to resist the urge to “set it and forget it.” Even after content is published, you’ll need to pay attention to which blogs are getting the most traffic and shares, as these topics are huge hints toward what topics are likely to drive your SEO and earn more conversions.

The more you’re able to improve your SEO with blog content, the higher your website will rank, as well (after all, that is the goal of SEO). As you begin to hone in on topics that perform well, more users will land on your website and become followers, increasing overall traffic. Bonus points: creating stellar, SEO-driven content will also help you to build a loyal brand following (*cue happy dance).

Related: 5 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Blogging

Get expert help.

This all sounds amazing, but let’s be honest: running a business is difficult, and finding the time to create SEO-focused content doesn’t always make the cut on the to-do list. If the thought of creating and maintaining a blog still feels like a massive undertaking, then there’s good news: you can hire someone to take care of it for you.

As the business landscape continues to shift and evolve rapidly, there are several platforms that can help you find the Expertise you need without the burden (and high cost) of hiring a full-time employee. Platforms such as Assemble can match you with perfect Expert to help you with blogging needs and improve SEO.

Related: 5 Ways a Digital Marketer Can Supercharge Your Online Outreach

No matter your industry, a blog is a powerful tool to help your website reach higher rankings and earn more organic traffic. Whether you take on the task of blogging yourself or hire an Expert to help, you’ll quickly begin to reap the benefits that quality content can bring to your business.

To hire the Experts you need, exactly when you need them, visit next.entrepreneur.com to schedule a meeting with our Expert solutions team.

How to Use Video for Every Stage of the Sales Funnel

To get the most out of video marketing, use the sales funnel concept to tailor video content and messaging to buyers’ stage in their purchase-decision journey. You’ll improve the chances of conversion–and increase sales and revenue. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Videos are powerful tools that have become an essential component of many sales and marketing campaigns. Business have come to understand the value of video and its effectiveness in building brand awareness and trust to increase sales and revenue.

Throughout each stage of the sales funnel, videos can convey information and evoke emotional responses like no other medium can.

To take advantage of video marketing and reduce video production cost, use the sales funnel concept to tailor video content and messaging to buyers’ stage in their purchase-decision journey. Doing so improves the chances of conversion—and increases sales and revenue.

The goal is to guide potential buyers from the top of the funnel, where initial video ads and videos are first viewed that expose the potential buyer to your products or services, to the bottom of the funnel, where sales and purchases of those products or services are made.

Top of the Sales Funnel Videos for Business Digital Marketing

At the top of the sales funnel, you introduce your business and your brand. There is only one chance to make that first impression. The first exposure to your business must be dynamic and impactful, making people aware of ways to resolve problems and challenges, some of which they may not even realize they need to have solved. The goal of video content at this stage is to educate your audience, inform them of products or services you provide, and to inspire them to seek more information.

This is a chance to introduce your company in the best light and establish trust and loyalty from the start. It is important that this introductory video content include the company name, branding elements, and a clear explanation of the products and services you provide.

Top-of-Funnel Videos

Corporate/Branding Videos

Branding videos are designed to expose your company to the market. Corporate videos allow you to control the message and shape your brand’s image in a way that builds trust and presents your business in a positive light. This type of video can raise awareness of your brand and what it represents.

Educational Videos

Teach prospective customers about your business and industry in a way that sets you up as the leading expert in the field. Educating consumers about your business and industry will organically create connection and loyalty. Marketing videos are meant to capture attention, but they should also provide substantive information that will make viewers feel they have learned something about your industry and what you do.

Explainer Animations

Animation catches viewers’ eyes instantly and draws their attention to the message and information being presented. Using animation for videos at the top of the sales funnel takes the sales edge off of the content, creating a lighter, more casual approach to educating consumers about your company. Animated explainer videos engage the viewer while presenting solutions to problems and demonstrating how and why your product or service is the one to trust.

Lifestyle Videos

The most important goal of marketing videos at the top of the sales funnel is to connect with the audience and allow them to picture your product or service in use at their business. Get personal by showing real-life situations and how your business is the best answer for the questions and struggles in their business lives. Appealing to emotions in this way will get viewers invested in your message and the solutions your brand provides.

Problem/Solution Videos

Present a problem and show how the solutions your company provides. Problem/solution videos at the top of the sales funnel should concentrate on the problem, issue, or question at hand. Draw them in by showing you understand and care about their issues and present your solution at the end to pique their interest and leave them wanting to hear more.

Middle-of-the-Funnel Videos

Buyers who have moved on to the middle section of the sales funnel have expressed interest but are not yet ready to commit. With their problems defined and the solutions you provide clearly established, video content in the middle of the sales funnel is an opportunity to present the specific ways you have answers to their problems.

Dive deeper into the benefits and features to get viewers invested in your offerings. Pique their interest by offering trials or promotions with real value designed to sample your product or service with little or no cost to them.

Widen the scope of your reach and educate prospective customers by producing multiple videos at this stage with multiple topics and areas of your business to provide a more comprehensive look at your company and build up confidence and comfort in your company and offerings.

Examples of Middle-of-the-Funnel Videos

Instructional/How-To Videos

Assume that those in the middle of the funnel have basic knowledge about your product and service, and they are seriously considering making a purchase. Showing them how to optimize your product or service will prepare them to become customers: They will already know how to use your product or service when the decision is made.

Product Videos

This is your chance to show off your product and to focus those in the middle of the sales funnel on the deeper benefits and features. Show them how you do what you do and why you do it. Grab the viewers with humor or statistics, get specific, and provide information to prove you are the best choice for their needs and preferences.

Tips and Tricks Videos

Show viewers how to get the most out of your product or service by providing what seems like inside information to give them an advantage by using what you are offering. Connect in a way that builds trust and lets them know their value to your brand.

Bottom-of-the-Funnel Videos

Those who have made it this far into the process are ready to make a decision. Marketing videos at the bottom of the sales funnel should guide buyers toward the final step of the decision-making process by making the definitive case for your product or service.

Reinforce the benefits and features that make you stand out among the competition and why you are the best choice to solve their problems. Addressing common questions about your business and the services you provide will give this audience the information they need to make an informed decision.

Examples of Bottom-of-the-Funnel Videos

Case Studies

Videos outlining case studies are ideal for the bottom of the sales funnel, where buyers make their purchasing decisions. Highlighting real cases from real customers or clients will build up a trust in your brand by showing they are not alone and that you have previously solved the problems they have. Case study videos are powerful tools that connect with future customers who can picture themselves in the same situation.

Demonstration Videos

Immerse viewers into your product with a demonstration to show exactly how it works, what to expect, and how it will benefit them. Demonstration videos are used to continue to build trust in your brand and give consumers confidence in the product or service you provide.

Testimonial Videos

Like case study videos, testimonials take the sales pitch out of your hands and into those of satisfied customers who share their positive experiences. Prospective customers can see themselves in current or former customers who had the same types of issues or problems they are experiencing—which your company solved.

Webinars

Long-form webinars offer the chance to go into great detail about your product or service and answer all questions regarding your brand. Webinars allow you to highlight all features and benefits and educate the audience about how to maximize them. Address and answer all customer concerns or questions to give them the complete picture of what your business can do for them.

Free Webinar | August 27: Content Marketing Secrets for Every Social Media Platform

Learn about the best types of content you can use to get the most traction out of each social media network and grow your audiences.
August 20, 2020 1 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social networking websites are much like any other human social constructs—each website requires different behaviors and has different expectations of its participants. Visiting each social network can be like being in a different country. Interacting with Facebook friends requires you to behave very differently from connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn. To reach your audience, you need customized content that caters to each platform.

In this free, live webinar, Mike Alton, co-author of Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing, will teach you about the best types of content you can use to get the most traction out of each social media network and grow your audiences.

Register Now

Mike Allton is a Content Marketing Practitioner—a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing, and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse. As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.