One of the first interviews I had in college was with a local money manager who was looking for a new recruit to make calls and drive business. He was specifically looking for a PhD… someone who was poor, hungry, and driven of course. I was sold by the fact that you had “unlimited upside potential.” For a soon-to-be college grad, that sounded great.
I remember asking him “Where do the leads come from?” and his reply was something to the effect of “You start by calling your friends and family.” Not a sophisticated strategy, but referrals were obviously effective and this was a time before the demand generation marketer even existed (at least under that moniker). I thought about the people I knew and the money they had, and then politely declined his offer to live off of Ramen noodles for the foreseeable future.
I ended up taking a job with a mid-sized RIA (registered investment advisor) that managed about $25 billion at the time. The job profile was similar: make calls and drive business. However, I wasn’t solely reliant on my limited network to do this. They had a database of around one million retail investors to call on and my job was to qualify them and get them interested. I was told a good rep makes two to three hundred calls a day. It took that many calls to find the one to two people a day who could qualify for the minimum investment amount and were potentially interested. If only I knew then what I know now…
The Marketing Game Has Changed
My first few experiences with the investment industry stick with me to this day as a Marketing Manager. Back then, I had been shown the two best options that asset managers had for finding new investors at the time: referrals and cold calls. Nowadays, there are much better ways to do this for the investment industry and beyond using a marketing automation platform.
While the cold call may (soon) be a thing of the past, many asset managers are unfortunately still stuck in rut of relying heavily, if not solely, on referrals to drive business. Whether you’re at a small shop that manages a few hundred million or at a firm that manages billions, you may still be relying on antiquated processes for driving demand. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Small and large businesses alike face similar challenges, and financial services in general are often behind the curve when it comes to new technology and processes. Especially in a highly regulated industry like asset management, it’s difficult to stay up-to-date with new technology and processes without guidance from the SEC or FINRA. No firm wants to get audited or fined. Additionally, some firms are reluctant to try new marketing tactics because the leaders of the firm are from a different era. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but oftentimes people get stuck in their ways and don’t understand new technology, let alone how it can help them grow their business. At my last firm, we suffered from the latter scenario. Even though we had very strong leadership and managed several trillion in assets, many of the senior leaders were very reluctant to leverage current marketing tactics.
If you want to move beyond referrals and cold calls to grow your assets under management (AUM) or revenue, evaluate your marketing strategy for these five must-haves:
1. Lead Generation Forms
If you have a website, use it for lead generation. There are many ways to drive traffic to your website such as paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), content syndication, sponsored emails, sponsored content, and social media. But all that traffic is useless unless you have a way to turn it into leads. You’ll need a web-to-lead form on your website—essentially, a place for people to enter their contact information so that you can collect it.
You can decide what information is most relevant, but you’ll probably want to start with name, email, phone number, and investable assets if your focus is retail investors or company name if you’re selling to advisors. The same goes for marketers in other fields. What type of information is important for your marketing and sales team to know about your leads?
For those of you who already have a contact form on your website—such as for people to request a portfolio review or to ask questions about your products, in order for you to attract more people to fill out your form (and get more leads in your database)—you’ll need to move beyond the simple “Contact Us” and engage them with compelling content, which brings me to my next point.
2. Engaging Content
If you’re going to ask prospects for their contact information, you must offer them something of value in return. For an investor, a portfolio review may be very valuable, but that is often putting the cart before the horse for most investors (in other words, a very late-stage action). In order for you to expand your reach and get more leads into your database, you’ll need great content that resonates with them regardless of their stage in the buying cycle: early, mid, or late.
Whitepapers, research reports, quarterly updates, monthly newsletters, and webinars are all valuable forms of content, but you’ll have to evaluate which ones will be early-stage content versus mid- and late-stage content. Early-stage content should be accessible to everyone without filling out your form. This will introduce prospects, or potential investors, to your philosophy and help to build trust. For mid-stage (and some late-stage) content, you’ll want to make sure that the only way people can access it is by filling out your web-to-lead form (in other words, a gated asset).
Once you have acquired new leads in your database, build a segmentation strategy to help you get the right message to the right people. For instance, an investor may be retired and primarily interested in fixed income. If you want to acquire this investor, it definitely doesn’t make sense to send them a message (or speak to them for that matter) about a long-short strategy or some other tactical play. On the other hand, you may have identified some investors that are more hands on or sophisticated. Those potential investors may prefer more detailed communications in the form of a whitepaper.
The point here is that no matter what field you’re in, if you know what your leads care about, you can tailor your communications to them. You’ll be able to take the personalized touch and feel of a 1-on-1 phone call and extend it into all of your marketing communications. Simply by segmenting your audience, you’ll be in a much better position to acquire new leads and continuously engage them.
4. Lead Scoring
With all the new leads in your database that are receiving relevant communications, how can you prioritize who to call first and when to call them? Lead scoring is the shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine sales-readiness. Think of it as a way to move beyond the cold call. By implementing a lead scoring system, you can prioritize which leads you should call immediately versus which ones still need more time to educate themselves about your offerings.
As an example, for an asset manager, let’s say that you have 100 new investors in your database. In the old days (which I remember all too well), you would have to call all 100 to find the one or two investors that are qualified and interested. With a lead scoring system, you are able to prioritize which investors to call based on their behavior. The more an investor interacts with your content, the more likely they are interested. With a lead scoring system, you simply assign points for each interaction. (This is the simplified version, but you can get much more refined and sophisticated with your approach to lead scoring.) Now, you can look at that same list of 100 new investors and find the right people to call based on the amount of points they have. If you’re at a large firm with hundreds of wholesalers, this is an absolute must-have!
5. ROI Attribution
The final component, and possibly the most important piece, is to have a way to attribute marketing activity and dollars spent to ROI. In the case of asset management, this typically comes in the form of net new revenue. Unfortunately, in the various asset management firms I have worked at, this is by far the most difficult piece. I won’t bore you with sloppy workarounds about how you can try to export activities from different vendors (your ESP, CRM, etc.) and leverage v-lookups in excel to match back activity to specific investors (in an imperfect way). My personal opinion is that the most efficient way to measure your ROI is through a marketing automation platform, which can measure the success of your activities and help you identify elements to optimize. I’ll say it again, in order for you to spend your marketing dollars wisely and spend your time doing the right activities, it is imperative that you can attribute those efforts directly to ROI.
Of course, there are other specific tactics that you should consider such as setting up multiple nurture streams based on investor interest, but the five outlined above are a great place to start. And best of all, these five marketing must-haves are all supported by a complete marketing automation platform.
Whatever industry you’re in, don’t get stuck in the past depending only on referrals and cold calls for new leads. You have a chance to jump ahead of your competition by leveraging state-of-the-art technology to help you generate new leads and increase your bottom line.
Are you ready to move beyond solely relying on cold calls and referrals? Which of these tactics will you be implementing in your marketing strategy?