Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What keeps the Asset Management CMO up at night?

And what to do about it...

Chief Marketing Officers, and the CEOs of smaller asset management firms, are worried about the same things.

Lack of resources
Competing priorities
Finding more time to be pro-active

Sound familiar?

The CMO panel session at PAICR 2013 (#PAICR2013) was revealing, sounded very familiar and revealed common marketing challenges, from large global firms to one-office boutiques. 

The problems might be similar but the solutions vary immensely.

Lack of resources
Facing headcount limits, Morgan Stanley Investment Management skewed their marketing team towards bolt-on team members. 

Contractors and consultants help the team deliver projects, scaling up and down as needed without taking up headcount and incurring fixed salary budget. On call, this team of exceptional consultants has essentially replaced a large in-house marketing team.

Even with limited resources CMOs are still investing in quality content. Getting a clear message out across disparate channels with limited resources still starts with good content, at least for the PAICR panellists. One CMO, pushed for budget and time, says their best marketing starting point - online or off - is still a good writer.

Competing priorities
The ugly sibling of being resource-poor is competing priorities.Marketing leaders find themselves constantly re-prioritising as they struggle to make best use of scarce resources. 

One solution is cross-training. While marketers typically have a particular speciality, one global firm uses cross-trianing to get the most from the team. This might mean a single person has responsibility for email marketing, events and web - with training in the areas that are not strengths to enable them to perform well across all three functions.

Unable to deliver everything you'd like to as a marketing leader? Prioritise the things clients really want. 

It sounds simple but one CMO claims what you're doing right now probably isn't what clients want. Just one example given by the CMO panel participants was online content, and in particular websites. A recent review in one firm showed almost none of the content they had online actually met clients' requirements. Resources devoted to putting more content online could well be completely wasted.

Finding time to be pro-active
Starting with client need means actually finding out what they want. And that starts with having time to be pro-active.

Finding more time to be pro-active, especially in a small firm where resources are limited, was a key issue for the smaller firm (Munder Capital Management) CMO panel participant. The solution for some includes having a marketing routine that ensures planning time is set aside and results are reviewed on schedule. Which means campaign results are carefully evaluated and learnings captured so that the things that work are repeated - and those that don't are dropped.

Sometimes simple solutions suffice. Just talking to clients, for example, can give insight that no amount of market research, data or analytics will match. Whether in large or small firms the panel CMOs remain big fans of just staying close to clients. Panellists agreed that asset management marketing now at an online tipping point. That means being "always on" in a social media driven world, moving away from print and bringing previously static materials to life digitally.

Whatever the problem facing CMOs, sometimes the only solution is to learn from experience.

A final piece of wisdom from one asset management CMO was simply this: fail fast, learn from it, and move on. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Freedom: Financial services marketers' great opportunity (and risk)

If just 42% of marketers say their content is effective, what are we doing about it?

Today was a great opportunity to watch 1,700 marketers obediently walk, clap and tweet on demand. Skilfully managed by Joe Pulizzi's Content Marketing World team we showed respect to the world's content mega stars, (over) ate our boxed lunches and kindly cross-promoted each other. 

Some showbiz fairy dust, a bunch of speakers with a lot of self-belief, and some clever clever conference planning have so far delivered a very impressive event in Cleveland, Ohio (who knew?). It's impressive as logistical undertaking, let alone a font of content knowledge like no other.

It's also impressive in it's ability to remind me of this: we are all just people. Whether a content marketing rockstar, real rockstar or humble content marketing neophyte we respond to certain things in certain (often predictable) ways. 

Energy, passion and humour move us.

Next year I think we need to send a plane load of Australian financial services marketers and their agencies.

I'm not saying we lack energy, passion and humour…I'm just saying we could use more of them in the work we serve up to industry and consumer audiences.

Ann Handley (@marketingprofs) said it best when talking about innovation, so here's a snapshot of her session.

Too few of us are focussed on helping versus selling. Our content isn't inspiring, and we're not innovating. If fortune favours the bold, we'd better get bolder. 

That's the nutshell version for our industry, but here's a little more. 

What's innovative? Innovative doesn't equal cool, odd, a billion dollar budget, a global brand, or a situation monitoring room (think Oreo in the SuperBowl blackout).

"Innovation is often the act of taking what worked over there and using it over here", quoted Ann. And her definition of content marketing?

"Content marketing means you consistently create and share information that is...packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, honestly attract customers to you."

Other gems?

"Empathy is not what you do, but what you do for your customers."

"Useful x enjoyable x inspired = innovative content"

"Experiment, especially when looking to build brand momentum"

I can hear the screams of anguish from here - often brand guidelines, senior management and even our audiences don't permit us to be as energetic, innovative or passionate as often as we'd like. 

Sometimes, freedom is in the mind. 

Sometimes the box we put ourselves in is the hardest one to get out of. 

Sometimes the boundaries are of our own making. 

So my enduring question after today is this: are we boxing ourselves into smaller creative and strategic spaces more than we need to? 

OK it's a leading question. Obviously I think the answer is yes. There's a time and place for smart bravery. It's here, and now, is today's CMI take-home.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Marketing agency of the future: top three things clients should look for

Content marketing legends  (let's call them the three wise men of content consulting!) all have plenty of practice serving clients, large and small, with content services. They've built agencies, developed service lines and rolled out content strategies over and over again.

So what can you learn from our three wise men - who are expert service providers - as a client?

Sure, I gained a massive amount as a consultancy owner, but for clients the takeouts are quite different. Having spent more of my time "client-side" than in consultancy, I'm going to share just the things that are most helpful to those procuring, not selling, marketing services from this year's Content Marketing World (#CMWorld).

CMW got off to a cracking start today (overnight in my body clock's time zone!) in Cleveland, Ohio with pre-conference workshops including a return of the marketing agency session offered last year.

So as a financial services client, what would I now look for in an agency offering content marketing?

My top three, based on today's session, are these:

1. Measurable results: a few things done well are better than a lot poorly. Paul's counsel is to measure just a few key metrics - think downloads, leads, inquiries. As a client share what you're measured on with your agency - and make it their problem to measure it for you! Without metrics we're all dead in the water.

2. Strategy services, before content production: there's absolutely no point getting into content execution without a game plan. The three wise men counselled that clients are wasting their money producing content without a plan.

3. Integration across marketing and digital channels: we don't live in a siloed world when it comes to content consumption - yet typically client organisations are siloed functionally. This makes it even more important your agency can help you bridge those gaps.

So how does @bluechipcomm fare on these three criteria? We're on the journey. The measurement piece remains challenging, "strategy first" we're absolutely insistent on, and integration...well it's hard but we've started.

I'm speaking on Thursday at the Financial Summit. I will (of course!) also be blogging and tweeting (@carden).

To follow the main event starting tomorrow see the free live streaming here or the blogs here.