Saturday, September 22, 2012

Asset management's leading marketers share: thought leadership best practices

Thought leadership can be one of the most powerful tools a brand has in its marketing arsenal. In asset management it may be THE tool. 

So what is thought leadership? It is the ability to offer innovative and relevant ideas to clients. But crucially,  thought leadership is more than marketing – it is, after performance and service, perhaps where institutional clients gain most value from engaging you as an asset manager. After all, beyond your own product, your thought leadership efforts are a way to demonstrate you're thinking about your clients' issues, not just your own.

At the recent PAICR conference in New York (that’s Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources) I was fortunate enough to hear from some of the best in the business - Vanguard, PIMCO, MFS Investments (the asset manager not the people who hit the headlines) and T Rowe Price.

Rather than synthesise what they said here's the top line version (less than 30 seconds each) of PAICR's packed session from three of the four panellists themselves.

Thought leadership: more than you think

Darrell M Riley, Global Head of Institutional Strategic Resources, T Rowe Price

Thought leadership and brand

Eugene Colter, Director of Messaging and Content Marketing Communications, PIMCO

The things that matter most

Sean Spaulding, Director of Investment Marketing, MFS Investments 

So, why thought leadership?

Because it creates brand loyalty via stakeholder engagement to increase sales and maintain retention. 

Because it keeps your clients coming back to have further conversations. 

And because you can't have portfolio managers constantly talking to clients - they have money to manage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What asset consultants really want: PAICR panel

Top three asset consultant best practices

Are you a fund manager who wants to keep asset consultants onside? Then don't unintentionally break the golden rules.

According to the #PAICR2012 panel here's what you should do:
1. Be transparent - it's critical
2. Be responsive to questions - reply to the consultant/anaylst letting them know you're working on the answer and when they will have it
3. Be in front of negative news - make sure your consultants hear it before the clients do! 

Top three things to do in a meeting?

Avoid spin; know your audience/sophistication level; focus on ppl & process, not performance

How to follow up after the meeting?

Follow up in a timely manner but DO NOT badger (ask when they want you to follow up); Allow at least two weeks before asking for feedback

Four things you should NEVER do to an asset consultant

1. Constantly call for updates or to get in front of them
2. Ignore voice mails or emails from them
3. Be too "salesy". 

Oh and don't call in late August for a last minute early September Portfolio Manager meeting with a New York based asset consultant - September is conference season in Manhattan. And others beat you the meeting slots.

I am attending the 2012 PAICR conference #paicr2012 for BlueChip Communication on the 10th & 11th of September in New York. During late 2012 and early 2013 I will be providing summaries and presentations to clients and industry colleagues. Please let us know if you'd like to hear more.

Brand & communication: top 3 things that matter most in investment management?

Greenwich's Rodger Smith had some absolute pearls on offer today. 

Pearls, that is, if you work in asset management / funds management marketing or communications.

Probably the best of the best, and with most direct relevance to the audience, were his points about brand.

The top three things that matter most, as judged by Greenwich research, are these:

  1. Strength and reach. This includes attributes such as "is a high quality manager"; "has a strong heritage"; "has a strong presence in the industry"; "offers a broad range of investment solutions" and; "has expertise in global markets"
  2. Innovation. To do well on this you must leverage technology; stay ahead of changing needs; challenge conventional thinking in the industry and; provides critical thinking and analysis
  3. Client focus. One of the key attributes here is "are you there for us, your client, in good times and bad?"
You can't do everything well says Smith. So don't be a mile wide and an inch deep - choose your territory carefully on which to compete. Unless you're Blackrock or PIMCO you just can't do it ALL well. 

I am attending the 2012 PAICR conference #paicr2012 for BlueChip Communication on the 10th & 11th of September in New York. During late 2012 and early 2013 I will be providing summaries and presentations to clients and industry colleagues. Please let us know if you'd like to hear more.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Seven top trends in investment management & what they mean for communicators

In New York, just now, I heard from Greenwich Associate's MD Rodger Smith at the annual PAICR conference.

While his presentation was understandably US-focused, a lot of what he had to say is relevant to the Australian and global market. 

These trends he kicked off with will sound familiar to many of us - whether we're working as an asset manager, asset consultant, or marketing or communication person in the United States, Australia, Asia or UK / Europe. Or perhaps living in time-zone hell, and working across all of those as clients and friends are.

Background to the Greenwich work is this: 

  • More than 1000 funds participated
  • Research was conducted in 2011 between July and September
  • Participants included corporate funds, union funds, public funds, endowment/foundations
  • All funds had more than US$250 million in funds under management
So what are those seven key change dynamics, or trends, that Greenwich Associates spotted in this global study of institutional (or significant family office) funds?

  1. Globalisation
  2. Defined benefit to defined contribution shift (accelerated by the financial crisis)
  3. Channel management
  4. Product demand
  5. Fiduciary management - and Chief Investment Officer outsourcing
  6. Convergence of institutional and intermediary markets
  7. Strategic/trusted relationships
These changes in asset management or institutional investing is having it's effect on marketing and communication. And the rest of the business!

Just some of the effects for communication and marketing people are these:

  1. Global communication capability is needed: learn how to do it, and well
  2. Fund managers are outsourcing more communication and marketing to partners as managers are squeezed by institutional clients
  3. Differentiated value propositions for asset managers are more important than ever
  4. As technology enables better client segmentation, even in B2B communication, managers are using those capabilities to be much more tailored, experimental and effective in communication
  5. Convergence of markets means, conversely, that messages are more likely to need to work across both institutional and intermediary channels 
I am attending the 2012 PAICR conference #paicr2012 for BlueChip Communication on the 10th & 11th of September in New York.

Friday, September 07, 2012

How to create must-read content: top ten tips...and add a cheetah

As the Content Marketing World Conference wrapped up with a cheetah (more on that in a minute) I wanted to share my top ten take home points.

It was a jam-packed two and a half days. And as often happens it's hard to put it all in context - some of what I've learned is going to take time to sink in.

But clear themes emerged. All are relevant to those (many) financial services firms and institutions who lag their consumer marketing peers in terms of online marketing and integrated campaign management.

Here are the "top ten" tips I think are most relevant for financial services players

1. Know your audience...really know your buyer's persona(s)
2. Plan well, carefully and in detail - beyond the content editorial calendar to speak to a number of buyer pain points and needs
3. Measure. Define metrics, run measurable campaigns and use measurement to refine
4. Commit to continuous improvement - content marketing doesn't stand still because the audience's context, the technology and your expertise are ever-evolving
5. Create GREAT content. Stuff people would crawl over cut glass to get to...
6. Be consistent. If you have a good story that is interesting to your audience keep telling it. Just because you're sick of the story doesn't mean your time-poor multi-tasking audience is
7. Create a path to the content - there's no point building a "castle in the desert" (thanks Fergus!) where no-one will see it
8. Integrated content and campaigns are the only way to go...standalone doesn't give your content the best chance of being found
9. Content marketing is easier than ever - tools are now evolved, cost effective and accessible to average users
10. Content must work on many, not one, platform/s

Finally, I think we can almost forget traditional marketing KPIs based on impressions and reach - instead how about we focus on the most important metric? Sales.

And the cheetah? Jack Hannah of the famed Columbus Zoo had a live one on stage. Now if that doesn't grab attention I'm not sure anything will.

Thanks to Joe Pulizzi and team for a very worthwhile conference. Can't wait to welcome you to Sydney in March 2013.

Google+ Why bother? Content Marketing World 2012

Google+ is reaching critical mass, and (at least for now) is mostly useful to those in B2B communication, said Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures at the Content Marketing World conference today.

If you're a marketer, why would you bother with google+?

Why use google+?

Arnie's view is that you want to be there - pretty much every business, he says, can gain something from having a google+ presence.


1. Circles allow targeted messaging
2. Direct interaction with fans is possible
3. Multiple administrators have access
4. If you have a presence you'll get more real estate in search results
5. Video chat capability via hangouts

And finally? Google+ is replacing the former google location capability - if you want your business to be searchable it needs to be on google+, says Arnie.

So how to make the most of it?

Google+ best practices

1. Bring google+ to your website - add the +1 button to ALL website
2. Get direct connected
3. Optimise your profile - fill it all out including as many links as you can
4. Get verified
5. Confirm authorship
6. Place +12 button on every page of your website
7. Create content and share it

And if you are going to use video hangouts, or record video to post to google+, make sure you have good lighting and sound. People will forgive getting names wrong, and many sins of omission. What they won't forgive is poor quality video.

Arnie runs a link building company - so when he says you HAVE to be on google+ to optimise search he's probably right.

One big impact of google+ is that quality content matters more than ever - spamming and crap content just don't cut it anymore.

Bear in mind also google+ is still pretty experimental - there are new features being launched constantly. So be prepared to roll with the punches!

I'm attending Content Marketing World 2012 (#cmworld) from 4 to 6 September for BlueChip Communication. I'll be bringing back the primary insights for financial services in Australia, and sharing them with clients and colleagues. Email us to attend one of my (free) highlights presentations in Sydney during September, October this year or February 2013. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Why Game Strategy Works: Content World Marketing

From a non-console gamer, some tips about game strategy for social and content marketing...

It's a great start. I've vowed not to allow gaming consoles in my house (kids don't read this blog...really the other kids don't have them either!). At least until the kids can buy their own.

Gamification isn't new. So, says Russell Sparkman (@FusionSpark) President & CEO, Fusionspark Media, let's think about marketing as fun - even in B2B marketing.

Some of our clients at BlueChip Communication are onto this - and interestingly it's the ones talking to the most pointy headed insto audiences who are most interested.

Russell quotes The Institute for the Future, in a recent Pew Research Center report titled The Future of Gamification as saying “The development of ‘Serious Games’ applied productively to a wide scope of human activities will accelerate simply because playing is more fun than working.”

Gamers may not be who you really think they are  - 40% are female, many are 33 year old males, an some 90% of females under 18 play online games.
What are game mechanics? How and when rewards comes, gamer personalities, social network-based games and more...
Reality is Broken is worth reading if you want to know more, says Russell. 
So why do we like games? Because they put us into a state of FLOW. Goodness me...having read all that good stuff from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi I nearly leapt out of my seat. 
This is why everyone from the 5 year old to the 47 year old in my house plays Angry Birds. Because we experience moments of flow.
Moments that Russell argues we can replicate as marketers by using gamification.
Create a game experience around your story. Consider the gam personalities of your buyers. Work out how to make the game or marketing intriguing, afford layers of status and other 'game-like' qualities.
Just one example of this is the LinkedIn "profile completion" status bar - users gain psychological payoff simply by putting in more data, and thus making that status bar move further towards the left.
I'm attending Content Marketing World 2012 (#cmworld) from 4 to 6 September for BlueChip Communication. I'll be bringing back the primary insights for financial services in Australia, and sharing them with clients and colleagues. Email us to attend one of my (free) highlights presentations in Sydney during September, October this year or February 2013. 

Best Practices in Financial Content: Content Marketing World

Early this AM AEST I headed to the Healthcare & Financial Content Marketing session to gaze into the crystal ball. By 4am Sydney time, 2pm in Columbus, Ohio my eyes were starting to glaze over.

But still, I was curious...

What exactly are US financial services firms doing better than the Australians are in terms of their content and online communication?

How can we learn from those further up the learning curve than we are?

What snazzy tool or approach can we 'lift and drop'?

One hour approval processes for one.

But maybe a not a lot more. The crystal ball was kind of cloudy!

Frankly there was less value in this session than I've seen at other, non-content, conferences. I'm not sure Content Marketing World has the vertical content nailed yet. By that I mean industry-specific streams. Or maybe it's just financial services.

So here are a few quick highlights that do offer value. And here's the health warning: we may have more to learn from non-financial services content marketers than those within our own industry.

SunLife's BrighterLife

SunLife publication BrighterLife has a life of it's own. Never ever does it promote product. No thinly veiled product push - after all that's hardly going to win consumer trust. So the editor finds herself having the same old conversation PR people have been having for decades.

It goes like this: no, that's not a story. No, the media/consumer won't care about that. And no, I won't publish it for you. Buy some space, don't try to earn attention with this content.

Is BrighterLife the custom publishing of the past moved online? I'm not sure. Maybe it is. As we said in 2009, that's essentially the roots of the content marketing movement - old school custom publishing or company magazines.

And if we fall into the same rut some of those publications did, our content will #fail. Because back then the content became tired, boring and self-interested. Primarily in my experience because we didn't invest enough in it - and we didn't do that because it wasn't worth it commercially.

What will make content marketing work (or fail) is the extent to which it adds value to the consumer. And to do that it has to be quality.

BrighterLife is only a year old and it's exceeded all metrics. So there must be real value there for consumers - or it simply wouldn't have traction. And the real value comes in part from keeping the product push on the SunLife branded platforms, and right away from the consumer-value driven brand of BrighterLife.

Wells Fargo private

At the other end of the market is Wells Fargo private banking content - key challenges include compliance. FINRA & the SEC are key - disclosures, risk information all have to go in without disrupting the end user's experience of the content.

It will be interesting to see if ASIC take a lead from FINRA.

Panellists talked about how true journalists are now more and more willing to work with brands who are committed to genuinely educating consumers. There's never been a better opportunity for brands to go find good journalists who  can help tell interesting stories.

On the role of journalists...

And who is best at telling a compelling story? Yes, the sub-head gives it away. While there was some moaning about journos who have poor grammar (they've been propped up by their sub-editors for too long!) there was general consensus that journos are the kings and queens of the content marketing universe. 

Who, after all, knows how to set up a lead, engage the audiences and craft a really interesting narrative?

I'm attending Content Marketing World 2012 (#cmworld) from 4 to 6 September for BlueChip Communication. I'll be bringing back the primary insights for financial services in Australia, and sharing them with clients and colleagues. Email us to attend one of my (free) highlights presentations in Sydney during September, October this year or February 2013. 

Power Storytelling in B2B post 2: Content Marketing World 2012

Changing your story?

We have a need, as marketers, to keep changing our story.

Get over it, says Ardath Albee (@ardath421), CEO of Marketing Interactions.

Because if you're still telling a valid story (one that meets customers' needs) then KEEP telling the story. You don't need to keep creating more and more and more stories. We actually need to make sure we're using it to it's fullest benefit.

Content production, let's face it, is expensive.

So re-use is pivotal.

And customer needs don't change that fast. Neither should your story.

There are relevant ideas here for financial services brands in Australia - whether in institutional or retail parts of the industry.

Be consistent. Be interesting. Keep it up.

And in order to know if you're being consistent, sign up to all your own 'stuff'. Watch it in all channels, in real time, as your customers may be. So you at least know what you're really saying - is it's consistent, useful and interesting?


Or is it disconnected, and not so relevant?

As long as the 'trouble' exists, the story should work. And then you have re-useable content.

Content that has longevity, that can be updated, and that really lasts.

To finish, here are Ardath's mistakes to avoid in B2B story telling.

6 mistakes made in B2B Storytelling

1. To much about YOU
2. Not serialising the story
3. Failing to tell the story across channels
4. Addressing the wrong 'trouble'
5. Forgetting about conflict
6. Talking about your company in the third person

6 things to remember

1. Distinct value drives story theme
2. Distinct value allows pivots for all offerings
3. Always start where there's trouble
4. Anticipate what comes it with Q&A if you have to...based on buyer persona's and what they'd most likely want to know...that way you'll be able to tell a really interesting story from their pov.
5. Tell consistent stories across channels
6. Connect the dots

Finally, check out Ardath's free tool It takes you through the process of building a buyer persona so you can tell them a really interesting story. I like it, and I'll be using it with our clients. We do something like this now, but paper based!

I'm attending Content Marketing World 2012 (#cmworld) from 4 to 6 September for BlueChip Communication. I'll be bringing back the primary insights for financial services in Australia, and sharing them with clients and colleagues. Email us to attend one of my (free) highlights presentations in Sydney during September, October this year or February 2013. 

Power Storytelling in B2B post 1: Content Marketing World 2012

If your content isn't grabbing attention it's not working.

If people aren't talking about it, it's not working.

If it's not shared, it's not working.

So what to do about it?

Brand story telling is the art of sharing your distinct value in ways that resonate with your buyers, compelling them to engage, trust and ultimately buy from you.

Positioning is all about your distinct value as a company. What is that distinct value?

Your distinct value, says Ardath Albee (@ardath421) as a company is the intersection of your company's strengths with your customers' needs.

Ah ha, I thought, the old Venn diagram of "what I do" and where it overlaps with "what you want".

Marketing hasn't changed - just the channels have.

And as Ardath says, how you tell the story, over time, matters. A great example is Volvo.  The story is still, after decades, about safety.

The conference blurb for her session kind of says it all:

"Just as every B2B company stakes a claim to a market position, each of them has a story to share. The challenge is in figuring out how to share that story in a way that aligns with the needs and priorities of prospects and customers. But, it’s not just sharing the story, it’s about making it so compelling that it elevates perceptions of value and urgency resulting in more qualified leads and faster purchasing momentum.

B2B marketers are facing a business environment with an increasingly complex mix of channels and skills needed to create a content and eMarketing strategy that, when executed well, results in quantifiable proof to downstream revenues."
De-jargonised what does that all boil down to? 
Do something of value. Tell a story about it in a way that speaks directly to the needs of your audience. Then share like hell.
I'm attending Content Marketing World 2012 (#cmworld) from 4 to 6 September for BlueChip Communication. I'll be bringing back the primary insights for financial services in Australia, and sharing them with clients and colleagues. Email us to attend one of my (free) highlights presentations in Sydney during September, October this year or February 2013. 

Blog secrets for tomorrow: Content Marketing World 2012

There's just no point blogging if you're not generating business, says Jason Falls (@jasonfalls). Most blogging is bullish*t.

Why? Because it's not delivering leads.

SO, at risk of paraphrasing to the point of inanity, here are a few tips to fix your blogging. I'm keeping it short because clearly, mine needs work!


Make sure you know:

1. What are people saying about you?
2. How many people are responding to your calls to action?
3. What is your conversion rate?
4. What is your sales rate?
5. Rankings is (sic) old school (why? because they're tailored for individuals these days)
6. Conversions by source

If your blog isn't delivering on these kinds of metrics, think about whether you're actually achieving anything at all.

Build an audience

Your content needs to be 'holy smokes' ie be:
- Amazing
- Shareable and...
- Provide clear calls to action.

So follow at least these two of the five 'F's of word of mouth marketing. This will work in financial services - we just have to get cracking and do it.

1. Talkers: industry leaders to your your own audience
2. Topics: try a) helpful ideas b) thought leadership c) entertainment or d) stirring stuff up

This post, in case you're wondering, falls under topic idea a) helpful ideas! But to get most traction? 

Use tactic d) - stir stuff up. 

It's most effective in getting attention. Politicians have been using it since time immemorial. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Crowd control

Policing employees' social media activity without bringing out the riot squad

By guest blogger Tamera Lang

In my last guest post, I mentioned that having a staff social media policy in place is one of the key ways to manage social media risk (if you haven't already, email us for a free copy of the BlueChip online reputation risk checklist, which sets out some of the essentials). Don't just take my word for it - lawyers are urging Australian businesses to get their social media policy in order to avoid legal action due to employee behaviour online. Last year, Fair Work Australia reinstated an employee who was dismissed for alleged inappropriate social media use because his employer did not have a social media policy in place and usual induction training on behaviour was "not sufficient". With more than 11 million Australian Facebook accounts, you would be hard pressed to find a mid- to large-sized company with no staff interacting online.

Gone are the days when only a few select employees are able to communicate about your company, brands or products in a controlled and disciplined manner. While it may be tempting to ask your staff not to communicate about their workplace at all, it's an unrealistic expectation. Social media discussions are like a cocktail party, people will talk regardless and it's better to put in place some guidelines to help your employees decide what is appropriate to say (and what is not).

Social media policies broadly need to deal with two types of social media use: personal and business. Personal social media use is the most common, where employees use their own channels to tweet, post  and blog about their own lives - lives that intersect with work. Business use of social media occurs when employees are authorised to use social media as part of their job function: for example, in the context of answering customer queries or promoting products.

At a bare minimum, the personal use of social media policy should:
  • prohibit disclosure of confidential company information (including legally privileged information, market sensitive matters and private customer data);
  • prohibit using social media to breach company policy and laws (for example, to harass, discriminate and/or defame);
  • provide guidelines on when social media is acceptable (for example, is it banned during business hours or is a moderate amount of use acceptable?); and 
  • provide guidelines on what is and is not appropriate to say about the employee's role and work environment.
The final point above is important. As I stated above, work is a part of life and it's natural that employees (particularly from younger generations) may feel entitled to pass comment on social media. It's better than an employee set the tone of what's acceptable, rather than imposing a downright prohibition. Empower and trust your employees to make acceptable comments. After all, an engaged and motivated employee is an excellent brand ambassador. Just make sure they know their boundaries: for example, they should not proclaim themselves official spokespeople and should not comment on legal matters or crisis situations. Try to keep your social media policy linked to your corporate values and/or identity, so that it resonates with your employees.

A great example of a company with a straight forward, yet comprehensive, social media policy in the financial services sector is NAB. Its policy simply requests that employees are to behave in three ways: to be transparent, to be responsible and to be respectful. And it all fits on to one page, so it's easy to refer to and remember.

While this is one example of a good social media policy, when devising your own, you should consider the special needs of your organisation and your employees. This is definitely a case of one size not fitting all. The best course of action is to get advice from your social media sign-off team (comprising of your key internal stakeholders) and external communication advisers to determine what will work for your organisation.

Tamera Lang is currently undertaking an internship with BlueChip Communication