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If 2020 heralded an era of massive change, 2021 is when all the effort and investment in the way we communicate and do business will come to fruition. But what does all this change mean for all the teams within your marketing department? Here are White Marble’s top tips across the marketing department for the year ahead.

Your content is now having to work harder on your behalf to get your key message out to your audience. For that to work, your message itself needs to be as sharp as ever. When you can’t be in the room to present your proposition, your content – on everything from your product offering to your stance on sustainability – should differentiate your business. This may be easier said than done and is likely to prompt some hard questions internally. But once formulated, clear, consistent and client-centric messaging forms a strong foundation for effective marketing that can really speak to the needs of your clients.

Does your email platform talk to your CRM? Is your website data reliable and in a useful report format? Are you automating your email campaigns? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, make 2021 the year you get your digital foundations completed.

Many firms have a very high-quality technology stack, but the elements don’t talk to each other and therefore the value extracted is limited.

Plenty of marketing teams want to put their marketing automation platform to use, but haven’t invested time in creating clear segments and a strong pipeline of content to ensure the ‘automation beast’ is well fed.

We said this last year too. It’s now even more important than it was then. Make 2021 the year you enable sophisticated marketing, by getting the basics right.

 

The focus on meeting client needs, often in neglected areas and underserved parts of society, will continue to build in importance in 2021. As the fallout from COVID-19 continues to be understood from a financial, social and mental health perspective, companies will need to consider how they can work with their local communities, not at odds with them. Take the work of one global asset manager, for example, who is actively working in its local communities to support access to grants and loans for those parts of society who have previously struggled (or been forced to borrow money at inflated rates). We can also look at the launch of the First Women’s Bank in the US last year, concentrating on supporting female-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, who are more likely to be denied loans from the more conventional banks. By looking to support local communities and underserved sections of society, companies will mark themselves out as progressive, and in today’s increasingly focused lens on inclusion, this will drive strong brand recognition to those companies willing to take the leap.

The speed at which the world is changing and information is being disseminated means firms won’t have the luxury of long lead times for campaign planning. Campaigns will be shorter and more reactive. They won’t necessarily have to focus on one central idea or product, or even asset class. Successful campaigns will be content-driven and relevant – addressing real concerns and issues investors are facing. They will be more personalised (or seem that way) as everyone is experiencing the same thing.  There are opportunities for companies to provide added value to clients by addressing health and wellness issues as well as investment or financial concerns, e.g. working from home, home schooling, mental health etc.

The trend for digitally-driven campaigns will continue amid prolonged working from home. Those firms who adopt a test-and-learn mentality will benefit the most. Being flexible in your approach allows you to really understand what your audience wants and is interested in. If it doesn’t work, move on, and try something else.

Finally, different global teams need to collaborate to become more efficient and more aligned with each other as well as with business goals. Sales teams in particular are now much more reliant on packaged marketing communications to meet increased client interactions. If 2020 was the romance, 2021 will see sales and marketing get married and buy a house. The “happily ever after” and the 2.4 children remains to be seen.

No company stays the same internally, or thinks the same way year in year out, and for good reason. Companies make internal, structural and strategic decisions and changes all the time. But they usually forget to bring these important changes in their values or their strategy to their audiences. And they don’t follow the same sense of evolution and innovation in their design and communication.

Companies’ communications should reflect that dynamism, being constantly refreshed in line with evolving goals, values and client needs. Using the same old communications and newsletters to keep audiences informed isn’t keeping up with their changing habits. As well as what you’ve got to say, think carefully about how your clients want to receive it and in what format. With reading time and attention spans shorter than ever, long dense copy in 20-page PDFs doesn’t sing of a strong understanding of client needs. With video and audio recording now doable from home, producing short, impactful communications in your fund managers’ own voice is easier than ever. If your values include putting the client first and openness (let’s be honest, whose don’t?), that’s an open goal.

Let’s make 2021 the year where we all help put an end to the confusion around terminology. ESG (the consideration of environmental, social and governance factors) is simply an input into your investment process – not the end goal for clients.

Instead of using it as an easy catch-all term in your marketing material, focus on the purpose of your investments and how they align with client objectives and timeframes; the outputs might be responsible investing, sustainable investing, impact investing or perhaps even philanthropy. Honesty and transparency underpin the entire sustainable movement and require an authentic brand message to come alive through storytelling.

 

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