In a previous post, I wrote about how the high demand for individualization across investment advisors websites put many firms in a difficult situation to manage these expectations without fragmenting their visual brand. This was primarily due to the lack of available technology (at that time) and it caused firms to meet the demand by implementing one-off customization programs. For many firms this created a fragmentation of the visual aspects of their brand and was thus faced with the challenge of reigning it all back in but to their credit, they attempted to solve a digital experience problem for their advisors. Firms that did not move in this direction, resulted in a very templated (or what many of my clients call “cookie cutter”) representations of their advisors’ businesses.
This is still the pervasive model used by the wealth management industry today and many firms are still trying to grapple with the best way to deliver a superior digital experience as cost is no longer the main decision factor.
So why is it, that many large firms are not leaping into the realm of modern marketing technology for their advisors’ websites? It seems obvious that any business considering a strong digital presence would first want to establish a strong online and differentiated brand right? Well, as it turns out, it’s not that obvious and there are a number of very legitimate concerns that we’ve not only experienced ourselves but also concerns that our clients have voiced directly to us.
This is likely a word you are very familiar with and depending on your risk profile, you are either in love with this word or you quite simply hate it. For larger firms, however, it’s not as simple as hating or loving the word. There is a true cost to change and it’s a very large commitment because it implies a longer-term strategy to get to a particular destination. With the wealth management industry as competitive as it is and with all the disruptive technology in place, many firms not only consider the potential attrition that may occur as a result of a failed change but they equally feel the pressure (well, really banking as a whole) to make a change.
Technology change, particularly when it comes to the technology that can make you appear trustworthy or incompetent, requires users to adopt behavioural changes and develop new routines in order to maximize the use of the technology. Everyone from the advisors, to the support, to compliance officers all have to adapt to this change and ensure that they are all playing their part to support the new ecosystem brought forward by new technology.
The top change management concerns I’ve heard consistently generally fall into three categories:
- Compliance: Will our advisors publish something that will hurt our brand or themselves? Is our compliance department prepared to handle this new workload?
- Advisors: How will we train and empower our sales force to reap the benefits of these new marketing routines? How quickly will advisors adopt this technology?
- Software: Can we slowly introduce features into the field? Does your software stay stagnant or does it update and evolve over time?
- Team: Are our teams structured or capable of supporting this new digital marketing paradigm? What’s our long-term support strategy?
- Implementation: How are we going to move all of this content from one CMS to another without major disruption?
Return On Spend
In any good business, ROI is a key driver that helps decide the priorities for key initiatives and whether they should be done. Many CMOs face the ongoing question from their executive stakeholders about the ROI of a campaign or the investment of some marketing technology. The reality though is that marketing ROI from a new technology you’ve never deployed into the field before can be difficult to measure.
Traditionally, firms will treat marketing technology spend as more of a cost centre rather than a revenue or profit centre. That is to say, that purchase decisions are heavily weighted on the cost of the software and the implementation of the software rather than the potential revenue impact it will make once it is adopted and in use. While I haven’t performed any special research around this topic, I suspect this is happening because the technology that was previously deployed simply did not have a measurement framework wrapped around it so there was no way to determine the impact of the older technology – no matter how little or much it may have done.
Advisor Marketing Strategy and Vision
When firms eventually decide they need to replace old advisor website technology, it is usually performed at a time when the technology has reached end of life (end of life technology is typically defined as the point in time in which a software vendor will no longer support the old technology) or when the firm realizes that it cannot fulfill their corporate goals with the existing technology. Without a clear view of the future state of their advisor marketing portfolio, the projects surrounding these two scenarios are typically centered around technology replacement as opposed to a replace and grow.
Firms that have a grasp on their longer-term advisor marketing strategy tend to be better prepared for post-project growth of the program where they have an understanding of what questions to ask and prioritize increasing the adoption of the technology rather than supporting the technology – this is a new and interesting shift in behaviour. The teams built around these programs have traditionally been very focused on doing things for the advisor rather than empowering the advisor to perform some of the key tasks on their own. Why? Because they know that once they have active adoption, they have a platform to accelerate their strategy so it’s no surprise the firms in this category will also deploy the technology at a greater speed, meaning they will open it up to their users as quickly as possible and actively manage the change.
Deploying new marketing technology to a high demand population isn’t something for everyone to do but it is something everyone will eventually need to do to remain competitive. Ultimately, it comes down to more of the cultural and process aspects of the firm. How easy is it to introduce change and is your firm prepared to manage that change? Do you have a strong data-driven decision making process? Have you considered what your advisor marketing program will look like in 5 years between the teams that support it, to the content that’s generated from it, to how your advisors will participate and drive their own success?
These are just some of the key questions we’ve been helping our clients answer and perhaps are questions you might want to ask yourselves if you’re considering the next phase of your advisor marketing evolution.
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