Maximize Your Return on Relationship (ROR) in 3 Key Steps
Written by: Jasmine Chen
Last week, we outlined why financial services brands should start thinking about influencers; seasoned journalists, industry leaders, finance bloggers, self-directed investors and satisfied customers. We’ve also recognised that influencers play a vital role in fuelling digital word-of-mouth networks.
Indeed, the latest paper by TopRank Marketing and Traackr reveals that an overwhelming 71% of participants regard influencer marketing as strategic or highly strategic.
However, despite the growing recognition of the importance of influencer strategies, it is still clearly underused and – for all but the most advanced marketers – has yet to progress beyond mere “tactical” utilisation.
So how best to tackle influencer strategies?
First of all, strong personal relationship-building is essential in order to nurture a long-term engagement that is mutually beneficial. This in turn means making sure that what you have to offer is of value in order to gain something of value. After all, influencers are by their nature very well-known and established within their specific industries, and what they have to say about your brand can have a profound impact on your business.
Executive Director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions, Mark Scaefer agrees: “The true power of influence marketing is coming from: network connections of the individual; long-term collaboration that results in authentic understanding and advocacy; quality, trusted content that is seen and shared by a relevant audience; and face-to-face and word of mouth advocacy”
We’re used to meeting the demands of maximising ROI in financial services marketing, but now it’s time to think about your Return on Relationship (ROR).
To complicate things, often there is no single “owner” of these relationships with target influencers; such relationships needs to be sought and maintained by all departments through all channels.
While it would be easy to be put off by the complexity of nurturing influencer relationships, there are three key steps that anyone can take to create and implement a successful influencer strategy.
1. Revisit your business objectives
Whether it’s increasing brand awareness or launching a new product, service or program, there needs to be a clear alignment between your commercial goals and what you want to achieve by engaging with influencers. Your desired business outcomes will also need to suit the needs and expectations of target influencers and – most importantly – your ideal customer.
As a first step, this requires doing a deep dive into the psyche of your ideal customer and identifying effective and ineffective touchpoints. What are their motivators, pains and triggers? Who or what are their sources of information? And what channels do they use?
Armed with this information, you'll immediately be in a better position to establish meaningful engagement between your business, target influencers and ideal customers.
Take another look at TopRank Marketing and Traackr's top ten goals of influencer marketing; revealing that most aims are (and should be) customer-centric, and focus on raising a brand’s profile to in order to extend their reach to new audiences.
2. Understanding your target influencers
Secondly, invest a considerable amount of time in researching your target influencers, including an in-depth study of their past work, published content and communications behaviour – before you reach out to them. Tools such as BuzzSumo are a great starting point for identifying the top few individuals with the greatest authority and reach in your specific industry. To increase the likelihood of forming any brand partnerships, it’s crucial to also understand why and how influencers have earned their communities - from your customers' point of view, what makes these influencers interesting? From here you can begin to consider what a mutually beneficial relationship might look like.
Bear in mind that your customers' influencers may not be who you'd expect. So rather than grouping potential influencers into broad categories such as bloggers, journalists or industry bodies, try taking a more holistic persona-driven approach. Influencers come in many shapes and forms, and it takes time to find one with the right audience and motivation.
3. Measure for engagement, impact and growth
As with everything we do, clear KPIs should be established at the outset, so you can measure for engagement, impact and growth.
This can be done by identifying the outcomes that matters most to your business, influencers and – most importantly – your customers. This could be as specific as tying influencer KPIs to each stage of the customer journey (i.e. awareness, sales, support and loyalty), or making sure these KPIs complement existing metrics (i.e. reach, acquisition, conversion and retention). And last but not least, your metrics should also measure influencer engagement, performance and fulfilment.
With these building blocks in place, you should be ready to nurture new contacts and ultimately build a strong lasting relationship – with a partner who is happy, satisfied and brings out the best in you and your brand.
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.
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.
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