What If Your Content Strategy Backfires?

PropelGrowth Blog

Have You Ever Had a Content Plan Fall Apart?

Just because an initial content strategy backfires with a client, doesn't mean you can't re-strategize!Last year, a new risk management regulation was introduced in the financial industry. It turned out to be technologically impracticable for some industry participants to comply with this particular regulation as written, so a series of industry discussions convened to identify a solution. I thought it would be fairly simple to create a thought leadership e-book related to the discussion by interviewing industry thought leaders. The e-book could provide a cross-section of the industry’s thinking on this subject.

The Financial Industry Is Always Reluctant to be Quoted

We knew this would be challenging for a couple reasons:

  1. Industry participants are generally reluctant to talk publicly about issues. Some banks have a strict policy, “get quoted, get fired.”
  2. Since the e-book was being created for a vendor, some participants who could talk publicly would still be reluctant to be included in vendor content because it might look like a tacit endorsement for the vendor’s offering.
  3. Many industry participants are not comfortable speaking publicly about upcoming regulations.

We established a strategy to work around these issues and were able to find several key thought leaders who were willing to participate in the project, including senior executives from three investment banks. So we conducted the interviews, captured quotes, drafted commentary, and sent the drafts back through their organizations to get edits and approval.

Things Didn’t Work Out as We Expected

At first, things went smoothly, but then some of the people we wanted to interview cancelled and never rescheduled. Others who had already agreed unexpectedly backed out of the project.

I’m sure they all had prudent business reasons for changing their minds and declining to participate. But we were stuck. We had great content from the interviews, great quotes, but insufficient permission to move forward with the original e-book strategy. So our client asked us to take another look at the content, aggregate the comments into themes, and provide him with the themes to help inform their product strategy – to make lemonade from lemons.

We Discovered a Whole New Content Strategy

We went back interviews and transcribed the recordings. As we reviewed the interviews, we realized that we have collected a great deal of extremely valuable thought leadership content, even if we can’t quote anyone. We just have to change directions on how to use it. As we developed the themes document our client requested, we also found:

  • Insights on industry challenges to inform the product roadmap
  • Clarity on business issues that can be leveraged for training the sales team
  • Questions sales can use to to start meaningful business conversations
  • Topics for 15 thought leadership blog posts on highly relevant topics
  • Preliminary content for at least two articles that we can syndicate
  • Multiple angles for the client’s PR team to leverage in getting media coverage
  • Content for a different e-book using the themes we identified
  • Source material we can incorporate into a research paper

Turn eBook Lemons into Lemonade

So if you ever get into a situation where your content strategy backfires. Don’t give up. Look back at your content from a different perspective and see what else you can do with it. You never know when a failed project will turn into a mini-buffalo!

Now it’s your turn. Have you had a content project go south on you? What did you do? Shoot me an email and let’s discuss.

To learn more about how to form a killer marketing strategy, check out this article by Phil Donaldson.

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