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Why Content Strategy Fails – and how to Avoid Failure

Ross Hunter 16 March 2024

Creating a content strategy is hard. Period. But in the financial services sector it transcends creativity and audience engagement. It has to gel the competing insights, objectives, and visions from the sales, marketing, product development and investment teams.

With a multitude of views from strong-willed people with conflicting interests, it’s no wonder large fund management groups struggle to successfully execute a coherent content strategy.

At the heart of the issue lies the distinct roles and objectives of the sales, marketing, product and investment teams:

  • Sales Teams prioritise content that helps them close deals and build relationships with prospects and clients. They typically want materials that facilitate the buying process and demonstrate clear value propositions.
  • Marketing Teams typically advocate for content that educates, engages, and guides prospects through each stage of the sales funnel. They have to balance long-term brand positioning with immediate sales conversion.
  • Product Teams usually want to focus on the innovation, features, and benefits of the funds, so showcasing product marketing content is more important to them than sales-led content or academic thought leadership content.
  • Investment teams ultimately have the KPI of increasing the funds under management in their portfolios. So sales-related content is important. But individual fund managers also have a personal interest in demonstrating their insights and intellectual superiority – hence the predilection for length white papers on esoteric subjects.

Given these diverse perspectives and goals, is it any wonder a middle-ranking content strategist or marketing manager would struggle to negotiate a cohesive firm-wide content strategy.

The Challenges of Integration

1. Communication Gaps

Effective interdepartmental communication is critical yet often lacking. Each team might operate in silos, with minimal understanding of, or care for, the others’ priorities and constraints. I see this as a problem particularly in bigger fund groups, where it’s understandably hard to bring the views of hundreds of people to anything like a consensus.

(“I don’t really care what the product team says; I can’t sell their new high yield credit fund, I want sales content to help me to bring in more US equity mandates.”)

2. Resource Allocation

Limited resources mean it’s always a point of contention when departments vie for budget allocations based on differing strategies and expected outcomes. Fixed income departments may be grumbling that there’s no marketing budget to support the retention of their assets, even if they have some top performing strategies.

(“Sorry guys, we need to allocate more of the budget to domestic equities, crypto ETFs and private credit this year.”)

3. Competing Metrics of Success

Each department measures success differently, whether it’s lead generation, conversion rates, or product adoption. Aligning these metrics into a unified content strategy requires compromise and consensus-building – but that’s damn hard.

(“Who cares about brand awareness; let’s just sell what the market wants and what we’re good at.”)

4. Cultural Differences

Even culture can vary across departments. Sales might be driven by fast-paced, results-oriented goals, marketing by creative and strategic planning, and product development by innovation and detail-oriented processes. These cultural variations can hinder strategy development.

(“Don’t waste time spending a week on fancy design; just give me a quick and dirty sales aid that I can get to my clients tomorrow.”)

So is there any way to overcome these mountainous challenges?

Good news – yes, it is. Unsurprisingly, it involves addressing the challenges head on.

Overcoming the Challenges

  1. Establish a Top Down Vision: A top-down approach is critical. Your company’s senior management has to define the vision for the content strategy as it aligns with the company’s goals. This vision should serve as the guiding star for each department (and the stick you can use to beat insurgents!).
  2. Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration: Encourage regular interactions between departments to bridge the gap between differing perspectives. This gives you a better chance of achieving a more integrated approach. Again, it’s critical for the department heads for sales, marketing, product and investment to be aligned on this.
  3. Implement Shared Goals and Metrics: Develop a set of common goals and metrics that reflect the needs of each department. This could include combined metrics that account for lead quality, brand engagement, and product feedback. Focus on the different stages of the buying journey and ensure you have relevant metrics for each.
  4. Utilise Technology and Data: Use data analytics to share insights across departments. With you have real-time data, you can adjust the strategies dynamically. That ensures your content stays relevant and impactful throughout the buying journey.
  5. Cultivate a Culture of Respect: Sometimes there can be a lack of respect between departments, whose goals don’t always seem to be aligned. So, it’s critical for senior leaders to respect the priorities of each team, foster empathy for others, and promotes a more harmonious approach to strategy development and execution.

Creating a successful content strategy is clearly a complex process in an investment management company. But when we recognise and address the challenges, companies can leverage their combined strengths to achieve an effective strategy that pushes the organisation to achieve its goals.