If an investment management marketing and sales effort has been disappointing, maybe it’s not the execution – perhaps it’s the strategy itself.
Inbound marketing for investment managers is a fundamentally different approach, but because few in the industry are using it both to reach new prospects, as well as a cornerstone of client service, it offers forward-thinking managers an opportunity to demonstrate true differentiation.
But know this - it’s an opportunity that won’t last forever. Like websites and email, an Inbound approach will soon be what’s expected of asset managers, rather than something that’s unique.
In the last post, I wrote about how using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal methodology can do wonders for an investment management firm looking to set and quality-check its annual goals.
The next (and arguably more important) step is to ask if the existing strategy is one that has a reasonable chance of fulfilling those goals.
Here's another way to think about this question: if what you’ve done in the past hasn't worked well, why keep doing it? Isn't one of the famous definitions of insanity, "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time?"
Inbound Marketing for Investment Managers
Inbound Marketing for asset managers uses digital content (blogs, eBooks, white papers, video, podcasts, slide decks, etc.) to answer questions, solve problems, and offer insights into the difficulties and obstacles a firm’s target audience (or buyer personas) encounters on a day-to-day basis.
This content is then distributed via a firm’s website, email, and the relevant social media channels. Using analytics tools, either free (such as Google Analytics or MailChimp) or paid (Hubspot, for example), investment managers can track the effect its efforts are having on the firm’s visibility, helping to measure ROI in advance of AUM growth.
It’s Not Just Who You Know…
Inbound Marketing is different because it fundamentally departs from the industry’s old-school formula for success. That formula?
Investment management marketing has long relied on a simple question: who do you know? Consultants, family stores, the wealthy, union leaders, C-suiters – in other words, how big is your Rolodex (or CRM – after all, it IS 2016).
Inbound Marketing for asset management firms relies less on “who you know,” and more on Who Can You Reach?
Extend Your Reach
The ability to effectively reach the audience with whom firms want to do business is the greatest challenge investment managers of all stripes face today.
Those able to do so can show that an important part of their value proposition is an institutional culture which strives to add significant value beyond portfolio returns.
That’s where Inbound Marketing for asset managers comes into play. What can it accomplish?
establish multiple ways to measure success
Would you view this effort as a failure?
For a year, a firm invests in its marketing effort, hires an Inbound Marketing agency to help grow its stable of sales-qualified leads, redevelops its website, and commits to a blogging and content creation effort on an ongoing basis. Website traffic grows 15% per month, the blog’s traffic performs similarly, their social media reach grows quickly… but no new assets have come as a direct result of these efforts.
In no way should this be considered a failure.
Our scenario actually illustrates several ways Inbound Marketing for investment managers can measure ROI in advance of AUM growth. These metrics clearly show that this firm is developing a professional reputation for content that is clear, frequent, and helpful to its audience.
The statistics back up this assertion:
- Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)
- 43% of all marketers have found a customer via LinkedIn in 2013. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013)
- 36% of all marketers have found a customer via Twitter in 2013. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013)
- Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (Demand Metric)
(Looking for more statistics? Click here)
However, if the content marketing effort isn’t generating the right leads, despite growth in website traffic, page views, and social media reach, it is likely that the content doesn't speak strongly enough to the firm’s buyer personas. In other words, it might be good, but it’s not attracting the types of clients you need.
This is a common disconnect, and often means that the firm is more interested in what THEY want to say, as opposed to creating content their audience actually wants.
So, if success is elusive, take a look again at the buyer personas and make sure they are A) accurate, and B) the content is created with them in mind.
Enable the creation of new networks
From my Twitter account, @DQCOMM, I tweeted 61 times over a recent 28 day period, and those tweets (some of which were notifications about my new blog posts, but most were retweets of things I found interesting) had nearly 3,100 impressions; meaning that those 61 tweets were seen more than 3,000 times by virtue of search, retweets, likes, and follows.
I had no prior relationship with any of my Twitter followers prior to engaging them on the social network. What this means is that I’ve been able to connect much more broadly than I otherwise might have, simply by signing up for and participating in the Twitter conversation.
By its very nature, the ease with which things can be shared ensures the message will quickly move beyond the initial network.
establish unobtrusive, multiple touchpoints with your contacts
Here's a big problem I hear often: how can we stay in front of our qualified leads until they are ready to make an investing decision, and at the same time not be totally and completely annoying?
The answer is to create great, helpful, actionable content. And to do so, content creators need to really understand their prospects' and clients' pain points, issues, obstacles, concerns, and all manner of things which keep them up at night.
This requires carefully-researched and accurately-written buyer personas, and content that is created specifically with their needs in mind.
Content posted on multiple platforms enables your audience to find it in one place when they have missed it in another. Your email got lost in their inbox? Good thing the content was posted on LinkedIn. And Facebook. And Google+. And Twitter. And... you get the idea.
Stop Talking about Yourself
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be “helpful” by touting all the ways your investment process and philosophy can help generate investment returns. In all honesty, that’s the sort of content that gets real old real fast.
In other words: Stop talking about yourself.
For example, if a wealth manager has clients in their 50’s, asset allocation becomes an increasingly important issue. An eBook or series of blog posts on how best to analyze the risk/reward tradeoff in certain types of equities would be helpful… truly helpful.
For an institutional manager looking for placement on consultants’ short lists, blog about things that are happening in the global economy, and offer your unique insight (but it does have to be unique, or at least uniquely contrarian) on how investors should interpret these events.
Posts such as these offer consultants specific insight into how you think and react (or don’t react) to global events, and help them to make a determination as to whether you are sufficiently interesting to be brought to their clients.
The “@hedgefundinvest” twitter account is a perfect example of this.
Demonstrate true differentiation
Showing a willingness to engage with clients and prospects in ways that are beyond an investment manager’s parochial concerns is unusual, to say the least.
By generating content that is at once helpful and altruistic clearly shows that an investment manager really “gets” the client service and marketing side of the business.
As I’ve written before, good performance is a terrible differentiator – it’s obviously important to do good work, but relying on that good work to separate you from your competition is wholly ineffective.
At the end of the day, if you are doing the same things as your competitors, then you aren’t differentiating yourself.
And it’s not about simply building the "better mousetrap" – it’s about:
- doing a better job of describing that mousetrap,
- showing how the uniqueness of your firm, and the individuals who comprise it, enabled the creation of the mousetrap in the first place, and
- how that unique perspective and creativity will continue to add value, over and over and over, well into the future.