Blog Is Your Firm Smarketing?

Posted May 14, 2018 by Mike Cogburn

Big changes are coming into focus for asset management marketers who attended our annual CMO roundtable event – specifically around how they operate.

Research, Analytics, and Consulting Smarketing illustration

Marketing is Working Closer With Both Sides of Sales

National accounts teams are requiring more marketing support in reaching distributor home offices, while national sales teams continue to look for help from marketing to uncover substantive leads and reinforce brand and product messages. But doing more without getting more resources or budget quickly becomes difficult. Leading firms are assessing partnerships at the highest distributor level to find the best mutual fits – for the best overall business potential. The term “smarketing” was used by one attendee and seemed to resonate with all of us – it was repeated several times throughout the day.

Once the best partners are identified, the downstream effect for marketing teams requires looking top-down from distributor home offices to individual advisors:

  • Highest Level: Crafting helpful experiences for professional buyers (i.e. gatekeepers and research analysts who are making product shelf decisions for recommended lists and model placements)
  • Next Level: Matching advisor campaigns to distributor investment themes
  • Lowest Level: Targeting individual advisors that they can influence, with relevant products that compare favorably to competitors

We would expect that the most modern teams will blend sales and marketing people even more closely, as Steven Miyao, Head of DST’s Research, Analytics, and Consulting group, mentioned to the group during roundtable conversation. One firm mentioned this being the case specifically for a value-add program that they offer. This could be the beginning of the concept for that firm (and likely many others).

More Attention to the Professional Buyer Experience

In the early morning keynote, I mentioned the dissatisfaction professional buyers at distributor home offices have with the experiences they’re getting from asset managers (from sales and marketing teams). Although just one firm in attendance provides a specific web portal for professional buyers, the vast majority of firms recognized the growing importance of the audience and wanting to find ways to market to and service them better digitally. This is especially given the fact that fewer advisors than we have ever seen (36% total according to our research in partnership with Horsesmouth) are making individual investment decisions for their client. Although most of these professional buyers are clear that they do not make product choices based on marketing or experience, a bad experience can deter them from considering an asset manager.

Segmentation Continues to Evolve

Many executives (more than we expected) were vocal about changes to organizing their teams by audience segments and personas, a big change from being organized by traditional advisor channels (wirehouse, broker-dealer, bank trust, RIA, and so on).

Interestingly approximately three-fourths of attendees’ teams are covering their own segment of advisors not covered by sales. One CMO, whose firm scores advisors based on their distributor firm, territory, portfolio style, past behaviors, and more made a great point: they see advisors going to the website and then making purchases. He further explained an observation that these advisors “typically don’t need a wholesaler to tell them the three reasons to buy the fund”. This helped push the conversations into areas firms are investing heavily into: technology and data.

In discussing martech vendors that they’re working with (CRM, marketing automation, social listening, and so on), the key qualities firms are looking for are connection of data. This was refreshing to hear, as we’ve found that firms possess plenty of data to craft personalized and relevant experiences for customers – but the obstacle has always been in connecting it and refining experiences/messaging in a timely manner. It is essential to not only collect the data but to be able to translate what’s important about it and why – and to do so with the (internal) audience that’s using it in mind. About one-third of firms in attendance have at least one analytics resource dedicated to marketing. This is significantly more than we’ve seen in the past, as distribution teams typically had most, if not all, of the analytics/business intelligence resources.

Our Industry is Changing

As the asset management industry rapidly changes, marketing may be changing the most and the quickest of all functions. The expectation has gone from one of mostly sales support to the task of getting closer to more customers to create more intimate experiences and to be more efficient with resources and budget. This makes for an exciting time for our clients and for all of us at DST Research, Analytics, and Consulting. We are proud of the support we are able to provide for these very changes.



Mike Cogburn
Managing Consultant
Research, Analytics, and Consulting

categories: c-suite, marketing strategy, advanced analytics, roundtable/events, segmentation, sales and marketing alignment

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.




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