Having worked both in and with asset managers of different shapes and sizes over many years, we have been reflecting on some common marketing issues we all face.
1. How well defined is your brand?
Some businesses spend more time than others thinking about their brand – and it makes a difference. Without careful consideration and articulation, our attempts to convey our brand and what we stand for as an asset manager will depend on too many assumptions; that everyone in our business, from those in at the beginning to the latest recruit, know what our values are, why they are meaningful and how they differentiate us. Very rarely is this the case; the intense introspection to unearth and propagate our values (internally) hasn’t been undertaken.
Today we have fewer opportunities to reassure our clients face-to-face that we are what we say we are and we do what we say we do. It is important that all of us (in particular those that are client-facing) can articulate the same corporate brand values and why they matter for investors. Likewise, those same values must shine through all our marketing and sales communications.
The brand and cultural identity of any business needs careful nurturing. It deserves the time and commitment to ensure that every client interaction is consistent, reinforcing that identity at every opportunity. Only then is it believable, and believable brands drive loyalty, advocacy… and ultimately sales!
2. Are you easily tempted into isolated marketing initiatives?
It may seem obvious, yet it happens all the time, often for innocuous reasons – a conference is booked by a sales person for a product misaligned to a campaign, or there is a short-term PR opportunity on an asset class that isn’t a key priority. How effective are these isolated activities?
It isn’t always practical or possible to control every element of your marketing plan, or of the client journey. Equally, it takes bombarded investors a very long time to notice what we’ve got to say. To get through takes tenacity – a persistent banging of the same drum, for years not months. However tempting isolated marketing activities might be, ask yourself what they will achieve in terms of long-term impact or sustained awareness. As a rule, they are ineffective, and therefore ultimately wasteful.
When marketing spend is under such scrutiny to demonstrate ROI, integrating all your sales and marketing activity and aligning your message will drive greater performance. That message will hit home if clients experience and can interact with different layers of consistent, focused content simultaneously. “Leftfield” content, events or messaging (i.e. a lack of consistency and focus) can be confusing and off-putting – and are therefore counterproductive.
3. How committed are you to your content strategy?
Even if the marketing team is on board, how committed is the rest of the company to a content plan (especially those that we depend on to write)? To deliver an effective content strategy requires an acceptance that on a regular (monthly?) basis there is the time, resource and budget needed to ensure high quality idea generation, creation of distinctive and meaningful content aligned to a long-term strategy, plus its distribution and evaluation.
This is not a toe-dipping exercise. The steady flow of regular communication underpins the high opinion, confidence and loyalty your clients have in you, your brand, your teams and your funds.
4. The importance of segmentation
Service levels and personalisation that we all experience online in our daily lives have driven expectations sky-high. Clients now expect a better, more engaging experience with our communications as standard. Yet there is a huge range of acceptance and readiness for segmentation and personalisation in investment marketing and client communications. Are you keeping up, or (like most of us in the asset management industry) are you lagging?
How up-to-date is the marketing technology in your business, and how can it help you deliver a better service for clients? Whether you are a fund boutique with nascent systems or a large fund group with creaking legacy systems, the technology exists to deliver a first-class experience, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.
5. There is an art to good execution
Sweating the small stuff is important. There might be great ideas coming from your team or your business. But what about the delivery phases to execute these ideas to their full potential – are they properly resourced or are they taken for granted? This is where your strategy will be proven or not; it is the quality, timeliness and integration of delivery across as many communication “channels” as possible that will make the difference.
On the other hand, be realistic; for example, consider what a team of three can achieve if charged with driving awareness across Europe! Might you have more success if you execute small, deliver and learn? High quality execution and persistence – that’s what make the difference. Then widen the scope.
I hope this has been interesting and – even better – useful. If you have any thoughts, comments or just ideas to share, please do get in touch.