5 Advantages of Working with a Virtual Marketing Director (VMD)

5 Advantages of Working with a Virtual Marketing Director (VMD)

Are you dedicating enough resources to the marketing of your firm?

A recent FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms found “only 50 percent of surveyed firms developed an annual marketing plan and just 32 percent of these firms had a position dedicated to marketing or new client growth”.

All too often, firms view marketing as an all-or-nothing proposition that has to be completely managed in-house by a full time marketing professional, and they just don’t have the need or budget. What these firms don’t realize is that there are other options available. One such option is a Virtual Marketing Director (VMD). Different than a full service marketing agency, a VMD is usually an independent marketing professional who assists in guiding your marketing efforts and acts as a point person to manage ‘all things marketing’ by coordinating both internal marketing activities and external vendor relationships.

If you’re considering engaging a VMD, here are 5 advantages should know:

#1: Industry Expertise

A VMD or freelance marketer is usually someone with a very specific and significant background. In initially meetings with a VMD, learn who they’ve worked with and have them share examples of how they’ve helped firms in similar situations as yours. Make sure he or she has both strategic and tactical expertise. It’s great to have someone who’s able to tell you what you’ll need to do. It’s another thing to have the hands-on skills to get the job done.

#2: Objective Advice

As many who understand the benefits of independent counsel know, there’s a unique perspective of someone who can look at your firm from the outside and present unbiased recommendations. By not being in the throes of the firm’s daily activities, a VMD can more objective identify a problem and come back with best practice solutions from other firms who they’ve successfully helped with similar needs.  

#3: Tailored Approach

It’s very important to determine your marketing needs upfront; content development, lead generation, thought leadership, media relations or all of the above. This will help you align with the VMD whose background and skills will achieve your unique goals. You may find that you even need to include other members on your virtual team, such as a business coach or media relations specialist.  Much like hiring an employee, find partners with the right mix of talent, values, and work ethic necessary to be a true resource and extension of your firm.

#4: Focused Direction

While the best approach to marketing is an integrated effort, choosing a particular project or area to get started can make the process less overwhelming.  This is also a good way to see if the VMD approach is a fit for you.  Start small with a project that requires the least amount of cost and time and determine some metrics to evaluate the results. Over time, you can then formalize the relationship. Most VMD’s work on a retainer based on specific range of work and hours each month.

#5: Return on Investment

This may be the most important advantage.  Working with a VMD, allows you customize the marketing investment to your specific needs. Begin by determining a well define scope of services to achieve your goals. Your priorities should provide both tangible and measureable results. Keep in mind that good marketing takes time and cannot be randomly turned on and off, so it’s important to focus on the long road ahead and include regular update meetings to review your progress and adjust as necessary.

As we move into the 4th quarter, this is a perfect time to be working your 2017 marketing plan. Start by defining very specific and measurable goals that are both reasonable and achievable. Then, leverage the very best marketing resources and partners that fit both your need and budget.

Thanks to Doug Heikkinen, publisher of IRIS, for inspiring me to write this article. When we recently met in NYC, and Doug said ”I always remind contributors to write specifically about what they do”  As always, I hope this article has provided you with useful information, insight, and ideas to take action.

Bill McGuire
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Bill McGuire is principal of W.M.McGuire, a full service marketing resource serving the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) community. We help with every aspect of your market ... Click for full bio

Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI

Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI

Written by: Travis Briggs, CEO at ROBO Global US

It’s tough to find a kid out there who hasn’t dreamed about robots. Long before artificial intelligence existed in the real world, the idea of a non-human entity that could act and think like a human has been rooted in our imaginations. According to Greek legends, Cadmus turned dragon teeth into soldiers, Hephaestus fabricated tables that could “walk” on their own three legs, and Talos, perhaps the original “Tin Man,” defended Crete. Of course, in our own times, modern storytellers have added hundreds of new examples to the mix. Many of us grew up watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons. As we got older, the stories got more sophisticated. “Hal” in 2001: A Space Odyssey was soon followed by R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy. RoboCop, Interstellar, and Ex Machina are just a few of the recent additions to the list.

Maybe it’s because these stories are such a part of our culture that few people realize just how far robotics has advanced today—and that artificial intelligence is anything but a futuristic fantasy. Ask anyone outside the industry how modern-day robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are used in the real world, and the answers are usually pretty generic. Surgical robots. Self-driving cars. Amazon’s Alexa. What remains a mystery to most is the immense and fast-growing role the combination of robotics automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”), plays in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.

Today, shopping online is something most of us take for granted, and yet eCommerce is still in its relative infancy. Despite double-digit growth in the past four years, only 8% of total retail spending is currently done online. That number is growing every day. Business headlines in July announced that Amazon was on a hiring spree to add another 50K fulfillment employees to its already massive workforce. While that certainly reflects the shift from brick-and-mortar to web-based retail, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what this growth means for the technology and application firms that deliver the RAAI tools required to support the momentum of eCommerce. In 2017, only 5% of the warehouses that fuel eCommerce are even partially automated. This means that to keep up with demand, the application of RAAI will have to accelerate—and fast. In fact, RAAI is a key driver of success for top e-retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart as they strive to meet the explosion in online sales.

From an investor’s perspective, this fast-growing demand for robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is a promising opportunity—especially in logistics automation that includes the tools and technologies that drive efficiencies across complex retail supply chains. Considering the fact that four of the top ten supply chain automation players were acquired in the past three years, it’s clear that the industry is transforming rapidly. Amazon’s introduction of Prime delivery (which itself requires incredibly sophisticated logistics operations) was only made possible by its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, the pioneer of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses and supply chains. Amazon recently upped the ante yet again with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which not only adds 450 warehouses to its immense logistics network, but is also expected to be a game-changer for the online grocery retail industry.

Clearly Amazon isn’t the only major driver of innovation in logistics automation. It’s just the largest, at least for the moment. It’s no wonder that many RAAI companies have outperformed the S&P500 in the past three years. And while some investors have worried that the RAAI movement is at risk of creating its own tech bubble, the growth of eCommerce is showing no signs of reaching a peak. In fact, if the online retail industry comes even close to achieving the growth predicted—of doubling to an amazing $4 trillion by 2020—it’s likely that logistics automation is still in the early stages of adoption. For best-of-breed players in every area of logistics automation, from equipment, software, and services to supply chain automation technology providers, the potential for growth is tremendous.

How can investors take advantage of the growth in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence?

One simple way to track the performance of these markets is through the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index. The logistics subsector currently accounts for around 9% of the index and is the best performing subsector since its inception. The index includes leading players in every area of RAAI, including material handling systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, enterprise asset intelligence, and supply chain management software across a wide range of geographies and market capitalizations. Our index is research based and we apply quality filters to identify the best high growth companies that enable this infrastructure and technology that is driving the revolution in the retail and distribution world.

When I was a kid, I may have dreamed of having a Rosie the Robot of my own to help do my chores, but I certainly had no idea how her 21st century successors would revolutionize how we shop, where we shop, and even how we receive what we buy - often via delivery to our doorstep on the very same day. Of course, the use of RAAI is by no means limited to eCommerce. It’s driving transformative change in nearly every industry. But when it comes to enabling the logistics automation required to support a level of growth rarely seen in any industry, RAAI has a lot of legs to stand on—even if those “legs” are anything but human.

To learn more, download A Look Into Logistics Automation, our July 2017 whitepaper on the evolution and opportunity of logistics automation.

The ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index and the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation UCITS Index (the “Indices”) are the property of ROBO who have contracted with Solactive AG to calculate and maintain the Indices. Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results. It is not intended that anything stated above should be construed as an offer or invitation to buy or sell any investment in any Investment Fund or other investment vehicle referred to in this website, or for potential investors to engage in any investment activity.
ROBO Global
Robotics and AI
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ROBO Global LLC is the creator of the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index series, which provides comprehensive, transparent and diversified benchmarks representing the ... Click for full bio