During 2012, I was lucky enough to connect with Marketing Directors of asset management firms and the wealth management industry. Of course each one had their own particular priorities, but one overwhelming thing became clear…
It’s difficult to prioritise the right initiatives to focus on.
Time and again I heard about overwhelming workloads and the constant state of flux that’s caused by ever-changing priorities.
Enhance the website. Attend Conferences. Send out E-mail Campaigns. Road trips to Advisors. Manage Agencies.
Sometimes, it felt like hugely valuable marketing functions were in danger of being reduced to a ‘to do list’ that gets crammed into ever decreasing circles.
I think it’s time for change. I believe that the culmination of market forces, regulatory change and client behaviour will, during 2013, have a significant effect on the “speed” and hence effectiveness of marketing functions. Like a car moving at constant speed the question is “Are you going to slam on the brakes or are you going to put your foot down on the accelerator and get to where you need to be?. Whilst far from being exhaustive, here are five ideas/initiatives that I believe should feature as priorities:
Take scaling seriously. It’s not about simply saying “we need more AUM”. It’s all about repeating successful marketing processes to a larger audience, in a more cohesive and targeted form and building momentum in loyal groups. This applies to institutional, advisor led or retail strategies. Julian Ide, CEO at Old Mutual wants to double assets over the next three years. Pretty aggressive strategy but he will achieve it as long as he focuses his marketing efforts through cohesively nurtured distribution channels.
Redefine your Brand
I reckon that asset management brands are the single most under–sweated asset firms have. But they need to be modified. There are millions of people (particularly the young who represent the future of your companies) who still think JPMorgan is a bank (as opposed to an asset manager), Aberdeen is a city, Old Mutual are an insurance company. The list is endless. Modify the brand so that there is a modern association with what you are trying to portray and with the audience that will fuel your growth and give you strong retention.
There are people in your departments that could boost your marketing effectiveness so much…if only they had time. Many years ago, I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Tom Peters, the legendary co-author of “In Search of Excellence”. The lasting memory I have of his speech was when he talked about how so many executives fail to ask their teams what they could be doing to help the department as opposed to what they currently do.
Most asset management firms have long serving, highly experienced people within their teams. But guess what…many of them are pulling together Powerpoint decks, figuring out how to use Adobe, talking to Operations to complete the factsheet “run” and generally being glorified administrative support. Outsource all of these things and redeploy your team so they can use their experience to boost output.
Reassess Budget Allocation
I guess the budgets for 2013 are done and dusted. But I hope the right balance has been struck between the “old” and the “new”.
Billboard advertising, Print Advertising and Corporate Events all remain highly relevant. However, the world is changing. Human behaviour is changing. Digital Marketing is mainstream. Not just a budgeting after thought.
Check out nutmeg.co.uk. They are like a little Terrier dog on your trouser leg. One day, they or your competitors will be like an Alsatian. They will have a bigger bite. And it will come out of your AUM.
Digital does not mean “build a nicer website”. It’s a whole new paradigm and requires a strategic rethink at Executive/Board level. Look at marketing automation tools, transform the way you portray yourself on your website, introduce fun, easy to use tools, make “access” a wonderful journey and use social media, adwords, email, blogging and webinar material in a focused and more effective manner. Last but by no means least….more video…but less boring ones.
Use Technology to Support your Distribution Channels
Kurtosys has spoken about this topic many times before, primarily through the lens of RDR. However, it goes well beyond RDR. Your distribution channels and their buying and referral patterns are changing very quickly. You need to start providing them a place they can go where they feel comfortable, get a warm meal and a place to stay.
From a digital perspective this means capturing the hearts of minds of your distributors (and clients who may refer you to others). Co-mingle relevant content and narrative in a single stream of knowledge. Build trust through this and provide transparency and insight. Move away from a product based selling and start allowing your clients to see that you truly believe in solutions that meet their needs or their clients needs and that you are understanding of their risk profile or their portfolio gaps that you can fill.
I hope some of these points are helpful. As always, we welcome your comments and look forward to providing you with more thoughts and observations as the year progresses.