With on-site visits and conferences off limits for the foreseeable future, nearly all asset managers are focused on building virtual communities of clients and prospects to communicate their news and views.
The challenge for boutique firms is that they’re competing for digital shelf space with larger fund companies with deep pockets and extensive sales and marketing resources. With dozens of Zoom conference invitations and offers of commentaries, whitepapers, podcasts and videos hitting their inboxes every week, many advisors and consultants are already suffering from ‘digital overload.’
In this environment, boutique firms need to be nimble, innovative and thoughtful in their use of online marketing. In a recent Sondhelm Partners webinar, How Boutique and Emerging Asset Managers are Handling the Pandemic and Keeping Their Clients Engaged, Julie Mansmann from Fund Intelligence and Matt McCue from Emerging Manager Monthly outlined five strategies firms can use to make sure their voices don‘t get lost in the digital mix.
Don’t try to be the “new kid on the block”
If you haven’t been hosting online sessions with your clients and prospects since the market meltdown began, you’re probably too late. Just about every large asset manager has been conducting monthly-sometimes weekly-webinars and videoconference calls featuring their capital market strategists and signature portfolio managers.
This expansion of online subject matter expertise richness is forcing advisors and consultants to be extremely choosy about which sessions they attend. And they’re only likely to login to those from the firms they trust, that were there first and with a unique and timely story.
Keep doing what’s working
Now, if you were ahead of the curve in presenting online sessions and you’ve had good attendance records, then keep holding them, if only to make sure your clients and prospects are engaged and informed.
Otherwise, continue to focus your digital marketing resources on producing the kinds of content you know your audiences like. Keep the market commentaries and whitepapers flowing. Continue to produce manager videos and podcasts. Make sure you’re posting regularly on your blogs.
Tracking consumption of your content is critical to knowing where to focus your efforts. Now may be a good time to invest in marketing automation software that can track how often each of your clients and prospects responds to your email and social media campaigns and which content they consume on your web site.
Look for news media placements
Many financial journalists are looking for insights from investment experts to feed the ever-increasing demand for timely content. Find them by spending some time every day reading articles posted on Financial Advisor Magazine, Financial Planning, Pensions & Investments, Investment News and other trade publications.
Once you identify authors who cover strategies like yours, contact them to pitch good, timely story ideas, explain what your firm does and offer unfettered access to your portfolio managers for quotes and interviews. In this stay-at-home environment, it’s even okay to call them if they list their phone numbers.
Another option is sponsored content. Many asset managers pay financial publications to place and promote their commentaries and whitepapers on their website and email digests. Often, there are additional opportunities for thought leadership such as their own webinars where there can be hundreds of attendees.
Partner with other firms
If you’re having trouble gaining visibility through your own efforts, look for ways to partner with other firms. Many independent RIAs are welcoming outside asset managers to present market updates on videoconferences they’re offering to nervous investors.
Other advisors are allowing asset managers to post investment-related “guest articles” on their blogs and newsletters. Institutional consultants may be willing to have your successful portfolio managers participate in online sessions they hold for their pension fund and endowment clients. And centers-of-influences such as CPAs and tax attorneys might welcome your offer to present to their corporate and high net worth clients.
Make sure your message stands out
Whichever tactics you use to improve your digital visibility, make sure that what you say is timely, original and relevant to your target audiences. This means staying away from generic market commentaries (everyone else is doing these) or viewpoints on government programs and policies (many people won’t share your political views). Instead, focus on delivering insights that highlight your firm’s subject matter expertise in the areas of portfolio management you’re doing well right now.
For boutique managers arriving late to the online bandwagon, the challenges of convincing prospects and clients to spend time consuming your content are daunting. However, with a little creativity and strategic and thoughtful execution, you should be able to make sure your voice gets heard.