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Why our clients choose content marketing, inbound marketing and account-based marketing?

Andries van Oers

CEO & strategist at Nymark

This is not an article with tips on three types of marketing that we believe in. This article is about how our customers experience these different approaches and what the benefits are for them. We believe that everyone should decide for themselves how to design their marketing policy: there is no holy grail and there will not be one. There are, however, a number of circumstances that could influence the choice of marketing policy and we thought that would be a good starting point for this article.

The marketing policy of our clients mainly depends on the:

Target group

The buyer personas we focus on for our clients differ a lot from each other. But they also have similarities. They take important and complex decisions. They consider the purchase of a product or service from our client (or competitor) as a fundamental step towards their goals. Because they have a significant responsibility, they do a proper orientation and generally follow a long customer journey. We see this in Smart industries, as well as Education and Energy. Read here why Nymark focuses on these sectors.

Decision-making process

As soon as the lead is identified, contact has been made and concrete discussions are held with our client about the purchase, with the necessary questions to follow. Sometimes even deep-rooted fears or misinterpretations have to be tackled. With an intensive implementation process, as is the case with our client Agiboo, there is often a certain caution. Does the system do what it is supposed to do? Can everyone in our organization work with it? What is the ROI? The decision-making unit often consists of several people from different departments. Everyone needs to be guided in the right way towards making the right choice. The importance of the purchase is significant.

Type of product or service

It is sometimes difficult to identify the exact characteristics of products and services that lend themselves well to intensive and in-depth long-term approaches such as content marketing, inbound marketing and account-based marketing. Nevertheless, at this level we also see similarities with our clients. The most important aspects are:

  • Order value
    The order value of the product is relatively high. This is simply due to the fact that you can make a significant investment per unit sold. In addition, there is a correlation between order value and the length of the decision-making process.
  • Content and context
    The product must have a relatively broad context. Content marketing and inbound marketing are approaches in which you use the challenges, problems or ambitions of the target group to build a relationship. It is not the characteristics of the product that are central in the communication, but the customer and their needs. In order to structurally create really good content, you need a broad context and, of course, some creativity.
Environmental variables

The environmental variables, for example in terms of market dynamics and competition, influence the policy you choose. The standard approach or ‘common techniques’ sometimes force you as a company to do business in the same way. If events or trading platforms are the place where purchases are made, then using other techniques very rigidly will risk low effectiveness. At the same time, content marketing and inbound marketing are also methods for building credibility and thought leadership, which will improve your sales. And in addition, someone will have to start the transition to other methods. So why not you? In Smart industries, for example, we expect a rapid shift towards more sustainable marketing policy in the coming years.

Speed of growth

If you want to quadruple your turnover within six months, the above approaches are usually not enough as a main policy. It takes a while before you get enough traction with your content marketing, you are easily found in a strong competitive field and you have set up your customer journey well. It takes a lot of work. Sometimes several years. But take that time if necessary. Think carefully and dare to go back to the drawing board if your plans aren’t good enough.

So, we now have a starting point from the perspective of our customers. You will find below the definitions of the three marketing approaches, and what makes them so useful for our customers:

Content marketing

“Content marketing is a strategic market approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content with the aim of attracting and retaining a clearly defined audience with the ultimate aim of converting it into profitable customer behaviour.”

With content marketing you help your target group solve their problems. Of course with a commercial purpose, but it starts with a sincere attempt to help. And how nice is it to make your future customers smarter and more confident? To help them challenge their challenges. As soon as there is enough support provided to enable teamwork, our clients find content marketing, perhaps, the most enjoyable activity within their organization.

Inbound marketing

“Inbound marketing is a marketing method where you attract customers by actively helping them throughout the buying process. Offering value is central to inbound marketing. Inbound goes beyond marketing. All departments that are in contact with customers benefit from the inbound method. This means that Sales, as well as Service, must know the buyer persona extremely well. The entire relationship with the customer is aimed at helping them achieve their goals and removing any problems or friction.”

We sometimes say that inbound is the counterpart of advertising. As if it is some kind of enemy. But increasingly we see a mix of both approaches. Push and pull. A very good SEO strategy for more organic findability also benefits your other methods. Especially in complex journeys. And as explained above, inbound marketing as we do for our clients goes beyond organic findability. It’s about capturing the traffic on your website more intelligently, for example through marketing automation. And here, too, relevance to your audience is central. Opinions are divided about a possible hierarchy between content marketing and inbound marketing. We don’t dare to discuss that. One difference is clear: inbound is pull only and especially focused on your website, content marketing can be push and pull and can be set up externally (also offline).

Account-based marketing

“Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy whereby key accounts are treated as individual markets by setting up specific marketing campaigns for each account. These campaigns are active throughout the customer journey. Sales and marketing work closely together.”

The term ‘account-based marketing’ feels relatively new but was first introduced in 2004 by the American company ITSMA. However, many companies had been using this type of strategy for years out of a need for a more personal marketing approach.

In addition to the desire to be easy to find for potential clients with a latent need, our clients often have a hit list of companies that they would like to approach proactively. These leads are often generated through inbound marketing campaigns. ABM requires good cooperation between different departments, but if you do it right (with relevant content and a smart approach) you can get the most complex and valuable leads moving towards your company.

You guessed it: the above approaches, often in mixed form and with the addition of other tactics, form the marketing strategy. How you develop that strategy and make it consistent and really useful within your organization is the biggest challenge. We are happy to help you with that.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this article. Of course, there is much more to tell and from other perspectives too. If you have any tips, please share them. Cheers!

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