Earlier this year, we held a client roundtable of 28 asset managers who shared insights into how they have adapted over the last year. An underlying theme that surfaced from that discussion was agility. Being able to quickly pivot to adjust and apply resources to fulfill changing needs for digital content and communication, virtual meetings and events, and advertising and media coverage, were essential to reach their audiences.
Marketing professionals are constantly striving to get the most impact with the resources they have available. We went to trusted asset manager marketing partners: Leibowitz Branding & Design, Sondhelm Partners, SunStar Strategic, and Synthesis to understand how they’ve been helping asset managers successfully adapt. This interview-style blog post shares fundamental questions and the marketing partner’s answers. Read on to learn how you can be more agile in your marketing efforts while focusing on and sharing your expertise.
What can you do to get relevant, valuable content to the right people, more quickly?
To be meaningful and add value, Dan Sondhelm with Sondhelm Partners, emphasized the importance of identifying a targeted audience through content that has a unique voice and a compelling and relevant message. From Sondhelm:
“The goal of a content marketing program is to build a reservoir of targeted prospects who opt into receiving your content because they find it to be of value. Once in the funnel, a content marketing system begins to track their activities (e.g., when they visit your website, what they do when they are there, what emails they open and how they respond, how they engage with you on LinkedIn) and then adapts the content to their distinct needs, preferences, and behaviors. Rather than receiving one-size-fits-all content, your prospects and clients receive content seemingly intended for them.
The program should also produce actionable analytics to help the marketing and sales teams predict who will be future clients or who may leave you. Consider the intelligence you would have and the opportunities for next steps if you can access data that predicts who are the most digitally engaged prospects over time and over the last 3 months or which clients are no longer engaged digitally and may fire you.”
Emilie Totten with Synthesis found that while the demand for unique customer-center thought leadership is growing, firms struggle to get that content created and out the door. “Our survey showed that the single greatest impediment to hitting deadlines is manual data intake. Even though 95% of asset managers are using some kind of content automation solution or tool, only 25% are satisfied with the data processes that fuel these systems. Our report clearly shows evidence that managers are looking to differentiate on frequency and timeliness of communications, making it imperative for firms to improve their data processes. The faster you can make your data available for marketing, the faster you’re able to get your content in front of investors.”
How do you break through the noise?
With more asset managers producing and sharing more content, email inboxes are filling up and attention and engagement can be a struggle.
Hibre Teklemariam with SunStar Strategic would ask, “What’s your niche? What’s your messaging concept?”, as part of a two-step approach:
- Sit down and think about what makes you unique. This will help focus your approach to the marketplace.
- Be consistent. A good place to start is by looking at your firm’s website as the hub of your distribution and messaging strategy. Advisors are also beginning to adapt to social media. While there are many platforms to choose from, LinkedIn tends to be the most popular. To make the most of LinkedIn, use repetition and consistency to gradually capture the mindshare of your target audience.
Sondhelm offers additional avenues to create a “buzz” that elevates your story above all the noise. From Sondhelm: “You want to start with a deliberate strategy built on thoughtful planning, extensive research, and exceptional communications skills. Consider raising the bar on activities you are already doing, which could include:
- Develop and share content your investors and prospects will actually read. Focus on how your portfolio managers manage money, what issues are creating opportunities, and what problems keep them up at night. Mixing up your articles with videos and infographics will add interest.
- Reach out to key journalists to pitch your story instead of just responding to their inquiries. When you earn news coverage, be sure to also leverage it in your other sales and marketing efforts such as adding the reprint to your website, emails, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget about your sales team. They will want access to the reprints too.
- Instead of just having a website, make it more powerful. Fast performing websites that are Google friendly, emphasize timely content and calls-to-action and provide actionable analytics attract more leads. Work in the website’s backend to appear on page 1 when investors search for relevant keywords. Visit our website audit tool to learn how your website performs and recommendations for improvement. Then try again with your competitors’ web addresses to learn how you compare.
- Be sure your marketing activities are working together instead of in a vacuum. If you are good at digital marketing, share your news articles via email and LinkedIn. If your sales team is looking for warm leads, conduct an email marketing campaign that includes three behavior-based emails. For example, consider a campaign that includes the development of content focusing on the need for income for retirees. If your prospects act on your three emails to watch your video, read your insight article and take your quiz, then let your sales team focus their attention on those advisors who engaged the most.”
How can you better engage with advisors and attract assets?
“Financial advisors are bombarded with information”, noted Teklemariam. “What they really want is a focused approach.” Advisors care about the bigger picture. They appreciate macro data and a fund manager’s viewpoint on the market, current events, and outlook (including how current market conditions are affecting a fund and strategy). They seek information on particular sectors or market nuances, which can help advisors sell new ideas and products to clients.
Teklemariam recommends presenting this information to advisors in easy-to-digest, client-ready pieces, which they can share easily. Another tip: Advisors want to know what a fund is doing performance-wise. A common mistake that managers make is to gloss over poor performance. If you provide a historical perspective, poor fund performance won’t send advisors running. They want to know that you can weather the storm, so if you can share that, they want to see it.
Paul Leibowitz with Leibowitz Branding & Design recommends starting with a solid brand. “It’s important to take an objective view of how you present your company,” said Leibowitz. When he meets with clients for the first time, he asks:
- Does your internal perception of your firm match the external perception? Why not? What is not being communicated properly? Everyone can agree, many products offered by competing firms can be similar, especially when placed in a style box.
- The product alone isn’t a differentiator. What are your differentiators? Is it your culture? Your process? Your people?
Providing advisors with a true picture of your company through consistent, thoughtful marketing communications will enable advisors to make an educated decision to engage with your firm.
How can you use marketing agility to your advantage?
The consensus from these marketing partners is that digital marketing is not only a reliable way to garner interest, but also a great way to track engagement. This enables you to evaluate and adjust to ensure you’re offering relevant content, with targeted and personalized messages.
Leibowitz included a word of warning, “Even with advanced tools in place for gathering visitor information, there is nothing better than a personal connection. Ultimately, we are still in a relationship business. It’s essential to have procedures in place for swift and efficient follow-up when people interact with your digital marketing efforts. You want to reach people while they are still interested. Also, when they do click through to your website, the information on the site should be relevant to the campaign. I know it sounds obvious, but if your website is stale and there is little thought leadership, people will move on quickly.”
Totten encourages you to also look at the sales side: “One great way you can differentiate is by being more customer-centric in your sales pitches. Firms can accomplish this by empowering salespeople to customize their own presentations while ensuring compliance. While marketers can certainly speak to the value proposition of the firm, only sales can connect that value proposition to the prospect or client’s specific needs. It may take a combination of communications to convey the right message. Instead of using the company’s generic presentation template, a salesperson may need to add new information, mix and match slides, or add a video to create a relevant and compelling story. At the end of the day, clients are looking for partners who can help them add value to their own client relationships. The more client-centric your sales team is, the greater strategic advantage they’ll create. If all things are equal on firm performance, investors will allocate to the firm that communicates quickly with the right message.”
Looking for help with marketing agility? Where do you start?
Leibowitz, Sondhelm, Teklemariam, and Totten shared multiple approaches for leveraging the resources you have available to break through the noise, deliver valuable content, and better engage with advisors. If you’re uncertain where you should start or could use some help in your journey, here’s an overview of how each of these marketing partners can help:
- Leibowitz Branding & Design uses a proven 5-step process consisting of research, strategy, content & design, implementation, and evolution to discover and celebrate what is unique about your company. With solid fact-based research, they write core messaging that is the foundation of all marketing efforts, which enables solid, strategic, and consistent marketing efforts across any channel or tactical execution. For more information on how they can help you engage with investors, please email Paul Leibowitz: email@example.com.
- Asset managers committed to growth or seeking to be discovered are long past the realization that the status quo is unacceptable and are moving towards meaningful change. While strengthening your visibility, enhancing your credibility, and looking the part of a serious asset manager may seem daunting, with the right planning partners and the capacity to think strategically, any firm can meet the challenge. Visit Sondhelm Partners to download their latest report on how boutique asset managers have managed the pandemic, to read their blog featuring tips and strategies for AUM growth, or to schedule a complimentary consultation. Dan Sondhelm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To start, do an audit. Take an honest look at your marketing strategy/mindset. Ask yourself – Is it working? If you had a plan before that you neglected, it’s time to revisit it and update it. If not, you can create a simple plan you can execute. Determine what’s measurable and meaningful to measure. It will help you decide if you should make a change. Should you divert money and effort to something you have not done yet? What would you cut out? What should you expand? Find a benchmark, another firm that is growing that you can emulate. How are they different? How are they growing? SunStar Strategic can help you create a strategic approach, develop your messages to differentiate you from the competition, and build credibility through thought leadership and leveraging third-party endorsements through the media.
- If you’re curious to learn how marketing teams are prioritizing content creation and how they are using automation to cover manual tasks and streamline data processes, check out this free benchmarking report from Synthesis Technology and FUSE Research Network. Synthesis helps investment companies automate data-heavy marketing processes like producing fact sheets, commentaries, and pitchbooks, as well as updating websites and consultant databases. By streamlining the data and content distribution process, investment firms free up their sales and marketing teams to be more efficient, strategic, and customer centric. The result is less time spent on manual tasks and more time focusing on growth. Reach out to Synthesis Technology for a free consultation.
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