Content Creation: The Lowdown on Quality, Speed & Volume

Content Creation: The Lowdown on Quality, Speed & Volume

Anyone who has worked in financial services marketing long enough recognizes there are times when the workload is overwhelming. One day you’re cruising at a steady pace with projects reasonably staggered, and then the perfect storm starts brewing.

An important fund launch is coming up, your website is being refreshed and a mountain of content must be created or revised, plus your sales team wants a new suite of advisor support tools – ASAP, of course. Add to that your regular work and maybe sprinkle in a batch of portfolio manager commentaries, and suddenly your days have gone from manageable to mayhem.

If you’re leading a part or all of a marketing department, when times like this hit you – and they will – your first thought is to see if you can handle the onrush. If not, options may include outsourcing some duties to an agency, hiring freelancers or prioritizing work so you can spread out the initiatives to help alleviate stress.

The lowdown on “quality, speed and volume” (QSV)
 

If you still can’t make any headway, then it’s time for a frank meeting with your internal partners about this challenging confluence of projects. One proven way to frame the discussion is to view all of the competing demands in the context of QSV.

When it comes to the variables of creating marketing materials, consider a triangle where the three major points represent quality, speed and volume. In a perfect world, your department could deliver on all three measures at all times.

Then again, in a perfect world our brainstorming sessions would always yield ground-breaking creative, click-through rates would be off the charts for all of our digital content and the translation team would never be squeezed for time at the end of projects. Right, it just doesn’t happen very often.

QSV variables in action
 

So, back to the triangle. Inform your internal partners (or department head) about the challenges your department (or team) is facing, and let them know you’re confident in delivering two of the three points on the triangle. They can choose whichever two they value the most for the current initiatives:

  • They can get high-quality materials fast, but not expect much of it (“Q” + “S”)
  • They can get lots of content quickly, but quality won’t be as strong as usual (“V” + “S”)
  • They can get a lot of good quality work, but it’ll take some time (“V” + “Q”)

Let’s assume that “quality” is table stakes, as you always want to produce compelling, effective materials. That leaves “speed” and “volume,” and whichever they choose will help determine next steps. For example, if they want speed then you’ll have to scale back on project components that aren’t as essential. If they want volume then they’ll need to be more generous with timelines for content development.

This discussion with internal partners likely won’t be easy and there could be pushback. They might not even choose to deviate from original plans (or maybe they can’t, for legitimate business reasons).

People typically want everything they ask for, but finding a reasonable compromise might be possible. If your partners can step back and appreciate the bigger picture, they’ll collaborate with you to devise a course of action that best meets their needs, while also maintaining the integrity of the materials without stressing out their valued team members.

Andrew Broadhead
Marketing
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Andrew Broadhead is Communications Manager at Ext. Marketing Inc., where he creates content that helps financial services firms engage their customers and prospects. Andrew’ ... Click for full bio

What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.

The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.

There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?

The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.

Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.

But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.

Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.

Related: 3 Reasons Alternative Investments May Be Your New Key to Success in Changing Times

What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.

As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.

Bill Acheson
Investing in Life
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Bill Acheson is the Chief Financial Officer of GWG Holdings, Inc. Mr. Acheson has over 25 years of sophisticated financial services expertise. Mr. Acheson has extensive experi ... Click for full bio