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5 Steps to Effective Branding and Marketing for Smaller Asset Managers

Sep 19, 2018 10:00:00 AM  |  Industry

Posted by Lora Lindquist

5 Steps to Effective Branding and Marketing for Smaller Asset Managers - Social MediaAt the May 2018 Ultimus Client Summit, Paul Leibowitz of Leibowitz Branding & Design presented on the topic of “Developing Your Story for PR and Marketing Momentum.” To assist asset managers with their branding and marketing efforts, Paul summarizes his presentation and provides valuable tips in the following article. In it he discusses the importance of how to stop being your own best kept secret by creating a distinctive brand and brand messaging. All of this can be accomplished through a five-step process, which he reviews in a straightforward, tactical manner.

Further, Paul points out the multiple long-term benefits that are generated by going through this process. Read Paul’s helpful and actionable tips on how an asset manager can develop their marketing and branding below.

The following article is authored by Paul Leibowitz, Leibowitz Branding & Design

“If only we had the resources of the larger asset managers!”

How many times have you felt this? It’s a natural reaction but not necessary! Marketing departments in smaller asset managers actually have many advantages over the larger firms. You are nimble, you can execute without layers of approval. It’s easier for sales, marketing and the Portfolio Manager to frequently collaborate and you have the ability to shape the culture and direction of the company.

Investors are more likely to stay with your firm in all market cycles when they have a clear understanding of your values and process. A well-defined brand that captures your values and culture can create the vital emotional connection that investors seek. You have developed a strong brand when the external perception of your company matches the internal perception.

How to Stop Being Your Own Best Kept Secret

To effectively create your brand and market with limited personnel and a smaller staff, it’s important to work methodically and include all stakeholders early on. We employ a 5-step process consisting of:

  • Research
  • Strategy
  • Content & Design
  • Implementation
  • Evolution

Research

ResearchThe first step in a brand refresh is to define the problem and state the business goals.
We find a 30-question survey and interviews with stakeholders produces a clear snapshot of the personality and goals a brand refresh will solve for. Are you introducing new products or services? Trying to keep pace with the industry? Has there been a major event that needs to be addressed? What are your strengths? Is your audience aware of these? Is there any equity in your current visual and editorial messaging? What adjectives would you use to describe your company? What is your desired tone of voice? Do you know how your competition speaks to your audience? These are a few of the tough but important questions that will shape a strategy the entire company can get behind.

When the interviews are complete, and the results are aggregated into a summary document, it’s easy to get internal buy-in. What you learn in the Research Phase will help you make informed decisions on how to proceed strategically and efficiently.

Strategy

StrategyArmed with the research report that clearly states the task at hand, you can begin to develop the story that will define who you are and resonate with your target audiences. We break it out into ten descriptive paragraphs that include core messaging, differentiation, purpose, vision, brand promise, values, voice, mantra, value proposition and your elevator pitch.

These 10 articulated messaging components define your current state, future state and overall brand promise, informing clients of the “take-aways” about your company.

Content & Design

Content & DesignThe strategy will dictate what you say and how you say it, both editorially and visually. Strategy will dictate the tone of voice as well as the color palette, imagery, graphic style, and the typography choices. All these elements combined create tools for your company to speak in one consistent manner, regardless of what channel is delivering the information. We recommend creating detailed brand guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page, especially in a smaller firm that may use multiple external partners. When you begin to redesign your website and marketing materials, there will be no need to reinvent the wheel, these tools will be the thread that ties your messaging together seamlessly.

Implementation

ImplementationIn a smaller company, you have the luxury of close collaboration and quick approvals to produce marketing materials. The essentials such as website, pitchbooks, commentaries, fact sheets, white papers, brochures, conference signage and social media templates can be created by your focused core group.

The real advantages of being small come together when you have the ability to deliver more customized communications. With sales, marketing, compliance and the PM in alignment, it’s easy to create materials that will provide advisers with frequent updates that establish your firm as a thought leader. A few options include:

  • Targeted email delivered through an inexpensive application, such as MailChimp, is a very efficient means of getting out personalized messages that advisers can take back to their clients, establishing your company as a trusted resource and forging that personal and emotional connection that is essential to building a strong brand.
  • WordPress is a robust content management system for website development that puts the power to make updates in your hands. Plus, Wordpress provides many plug-ins that add functionality to your site such as search engine optimization (SEO) and dynamic charting. Also, make sure you imbed Google Analytics in your site. It will provide more actionable data than you’ll know what do with, but at the basic level, you can track where people go on your site, how they get there and where they exit, enabling you to make any necessary adjustments to improve the viewer experience with this powerful brand touchpoint.
  • Video production costs have come down in recent years and you can script a personal message that you know will directly impact your clients.
  • Direct mail used to be annoying but when was the last time you received a targeted piece of mail? A good old-fashioned targeted direct mail campaign will certainly get an adviser’s attention.
  • Creative premiums that capture the essence of your messaging are more memorable than a pen with your logo and will serve as a reminder of your brand long after the trade show. Or a fun premium could be the basis for a direct mail campaign and will certainly boost response rates.
  • And finally, don’t skimp on public relations, such as press releases or creating content to be pitched to trade publications or used on your site. The old adage “The first dollar you spend on marketing should be on PR” is still a good rule.

Implementation is one of the most fun phases because the possibilities are endless. In this wired world where you are bombarded with images, stop when something catches your eye and think “that is very cool, I can adapt this for my brand, I know my audience will appreciate it.”

Strategy, creativity and consistency in messaging are the foundations of branding and marketing.

Evolution

EvolutionUpon completion of the Research, Strategy, Content & Design and Implementation Phases, keep going! It’s important to remember that brands are living, breathing entities and need attention to thrive. Monitor Google Analytics on a regular basis and keep the weekly meetings between sales, marketing and the PM going. The PM wants to hear from sales what they are learning on the road and sales wants to hear what the PM is looking at, so they can bring that back to their clients, and marketing is the swizzle stick that brings all these great ideas to life.

To evolve your brand, you must constantly reinforce your brand messaging. Think strategically, think creatively, work efficiently, but most of all, have fun! 

Paul Leibowitz is President and Chief Creative Officer at Leibowitz Branding & Design, a 13-person shop based in New York. For over 20 years his team has been helping financial services companies of all sizes build their brands and tell their stories.

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