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. 

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