How to Take More Risks With Your Marketing

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Leading up to two of our most important conferences of the year (Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit and SiriusDecisions), the Content4Demand team had an important task: come up with a new and compelling theme that we could leverage to capture attention and generate leads. 

We were still riding high on the success of our “Straight Outta Content” theme. But we were using the theme for more than a year, and the DVD was released in January 2016. If we extended the campaign, we could seem out of touch and, worst of all, irrelevant.

Of course, we could have taken the easy way out by creating branded banners and a backdrop that touted our photography, colors and messaging. But where’s the fun in that? We wanted to develop a theme that was as timely, culturally relevant and hard-hitting as Straight Outta Content. Where would we start, though?

We initially considered building a theme around Ghostbusters. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the franchise reboot, but no matter how we tried we couldn’t come up with a catchy slogan. After much internal brainstorming among our content and design teams, we kept going back to one central theme: election season.

Latching on to a theme this polarizing is risky for any brand. What would our tagline be? How would we present it in a way that wouldn’t alienate clients or prospects? What could we do to make sure the theme was fun and hard-hitting, but still relevant and tasteful?

We spent two solid weeks building the theme up, developing the tagline and messaging around it. We finally decided to move forward with the tagline “make content great again,” host a voting booth where people could vote on their favorite content formats, and give away T-shirts and election-themed buttons.

We worked tirelessly to strike the right balance between edgy and informative. But what if the theme wasn’t received well? What if people thought we were trying to promote a specific party agenda?

Long story short, the theme resonated extremely well with attendees at both conferences. People visited our booth excited to learn more about Content4Demand, vote on their favorite formats and even take photos with our backdrop. We breathed a sigh of relief and started planning ways to further capitalize on the theme — especially as election season kicked into high gear.

Our theme was a great success. During the planning process, though, we learned a lot about how to effectively take risks with our campaigns. If you’re striving to do the same, here are some questions you should address before you start:

  • What is our goal? Are you trying to push buttons or get shock value out of this theme? Or are you just trying to have some fun?
  • Does this theme make sense for our target audience? Will the theme resonate with or make an impact on the people you’re trying to reach?
  • How could this theme be perceived? How will your target audience potentially react or respond to the theme?
  • Is there any other risk involved with this theme? Could it lead to negative PR or social media feedback? Could it impact your business relationships and partnerships? This is an extremely important area of consideration before you move forward in any way. 
  • How does the theme align with our business, solutions and services? For us, “make content great again” tied to our business and goals as a content creation agency. We wanted to tell the world that B2B content doesn’t have to be boring, and that brands can connect and engage with buyers using compelling messaging and interactive content formats. 
  • How can we extend this theme across a variety of channels and touchpoints? To maximize the impact of a theme, you should try to extend it across a long-term, multi-touch campaign. We used “make content great again” for two events, an email, a motion graphic video and a number of blog posts. We also have a few ideas we plan to flesh out as we get further into election season. 
  • What will we do if the theme flops? The key here is starting small and scaling up. That way, you can see how your audience responds before you spend too much time or money on the idea. We invested in signage and buttons for Marketing Nation Summit and waited to order signage, T-shirts and more buttons for SiriusDecisions. We were able to gauge how our target audience responded before we invested any more money.


Taking risks with your campaigns and content can be scary. But when you ask the right questions and plan appropriately, it can be extremely beneficial for your brand and help you stand out to your target audience.

Have you ever taken a risk with your marketing? What was the process like for you, and did you learn any lessons? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section below!

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