Why Presentation Training is Critical to Your Content Strategy

By: Anne Banks
Principal, gr8 communications LLC
gr8communications.com
PAICR Board of Directors member

The appetite for content in the investment management industry has exploded in recent years, and so many firms have invested significantly to build out their content capabilities and to diversify the mix of communications channels they use to reach their target audiences.

But how many firms have invested in their most important communications asset: the ability of their investment professionals (and other market-facing ambassadors) to tell their story clearly, engagingly and succinctly?

My guess would be not so many!

But if your firm is savvy enough to be doing such training, or contemplating it, here are 5 steps I recommend you follow to increase your chances of a solid ROI.

Check the patient’s medical history in advance

I’m only kidding about the medical history—but I hope you get what I mean.

  • You need to know, from the outset, the level of experience the participant has—be that in the industry, their current role, previous roles, previous presenting experience, and the nature of that experience (audience, frequency, solo or partnered.)
  • More specifically, you need to know why the person is being asked to participate in the training—especially if they’ve had previous presentation training and/or would be viewed as a seasoned presenter or member of the team. The latter could be an indication that you are dealing with a protracted problem that previous training failed to resolve—and if that is the case, you need to know why.
  • Also find out from the participant any specific concerns they may have about their presenting ability, which they would like to address during their session. (Remember, the training has the potential to broaden the person’s skillset, not just for the role they currently occupy, but for the benefit of the business more broadly.)

Set clear objectives and realistic expectations

You need to know who is behind the decision to do the training and what they want the business (and each of the participant’s) to get out of it. And how will they measure its success?

  • If you believe the expectations voiced by the person are unrealistic, you need to say so, or somebody is going to be very disappointed when the job is done! For example—if one of the people to be trained has had training numerous times before to address the same issue, it would be unreasonable (and unrealistic) to expect that they will suddenly see the light after one more session with another trainer! There’s a strong chance that a more fundamental issue is at the heart of the problem than the person’s skills as a presenter—and it’s likely to be something a trainer has no power to change!
  • Regardless of the issue that needs to be addressed with each presenter, the person requesting that the training be done needs to understand that one training session can only help the participant achieve so much. Sustainable improvement in their presentation skills will only come from presenting regularly.

Timing isn’t everything … but boy can it make a big difference

If you have the flexibility, schedule the training so that each of the participants has an opportunity to put into practice what they learn from their session very soon after—ideally at an external meeting within a week to 10 days (for which they should prep for in-house beforehand.) The sooner they get to use the pointers they’ve been given, the better.  And the more frequently you can get them to meetings subsequently the better also. Practice may not make it perfect, but it will make a difference.

  • Use familiar content for the training sessions: Unless the purpose of the training is to test-drive a completely new presentation, I recommend that you get each participant to use presentation material for their coaching session with which they are reasonably familiar/possibly have presented before. If they don’t, then any presentation weakness you identify is as likely to come from their lack of familiarity with the material, as their core ability to present.
  • Capture it on video: The best way for a presenter to understand the errors they are making, is to watch themselves on video doing just that. And you don’t need any expensive equipment to capture that. Many investment professionals use iPads or similar tablets for work, which can be easily mounted on an inexpensive tripod stand to record the session. And they get to take the prize home with them J But seriously … it really does make a difference when they can see the things you are pointing out to them.

So when it comes to developing your content strategy, don’t forget about investing a bit of your time and budget in the people you depend on to deliver your message and secure the client. Ultimately, the face time a client gets with them may be the deciding factor in choosing you as their manager—and not the brochure they found on your website.

Using Data for Good

By: Peter Hans
Co-Founder & CEO – Harvest Exchange Corp.
PAICR Gold Sponsor – Harvest
www.hvst.com

In the investment management world, “data” has historically meant “capital markets data”—used to create an investment thesis or structure an allocation model.  But in recent years the topic of “big data” has been top-of firms’ minds.  Why? Because in a digital world, there are significant opportunities for investment managers to leverage behavioral data so they can better engage with their clients. And under the right circumstances, that data can also be used to better align the interests of an asset manager and their clients.

Here are a few examples of how data can be used to achieve such goals:

 1. Personalize the client experience

The future of finance is digital, as stated by the Financial Times. Frankly, this statement is consistent with trends we are seeing at Harvest, which demonstrate over and over again that hedge fund managers, analysts at a public pension plan, financial advisors, and individuals are conducting investment research online. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning makes it possible for the likes of Netflix and Amazon (and Harvest) to better organize content in order to improve the user experience. But without user data, this wouldn’t be possible and would lead to the user having to sort through things that are irrelevant to them. It should come as no surprise then that 70% of the content consumed on Netflix is the result of a recommendation by their algorithms.

2. Quality over quantity

 While digital marketing has allowed investment managers to seamlessly distribute their message at scale, it has also led to an environment of unsolicited spam and ever-shrinking attention spans. However, there’s no need for such a shotgun approach. Instead, behavioral data can be used to transform a manager’s previously volume-driven approach to a highly targeted relevance-driven strategy. Harvest was built with this in mind and seeks to help financial organizations better engage with their clients. We do this by prioritizing what an individual, or group of individuals, cares about and interacting with them accordingly. In essence, we seek to filter out the noise for the reader and create an environment where less is more, both for the asset manager seeking new clients and for a client seeking a new solution.

3. Intelligence for humans, not robots

While Harvest uses behavioral data as inputs into its algorithms, for asset managers the same data offers an insight into the next human interaction. For example, knowing in real time whether certain targets are engaged with thought leadership on energy infrastructure, or reading your firm’s view on the yield curve, can provide extremely valuable qualitative information for a manager’s sales team. Additionally, understanding what your target audience demographics are interested in, what they aren’t, and how those trends are changing can also be used as inputs into deciding your upcoming marketing priorities. In short, asset management has always been a relationship-driven and deeply personal business. The availability of technology-empowered behavioral data does not have to mean full automation and the elimination of the human element. In fact, this data can be used to materially strengthen the human element so that a manager can achieve their desired outcome and their client enjoys a better user experience.

In the end, most people are growing weary from the deluge of information they are bombarded with on a daily basis. But with data being used for good, that deluge can be replaced with a stream of information that users will find relevant, interesting, and actionable. For investment managers, data can be applied to better align their interests with their clients. This includes the use of data to personalize the client experience, the ability to emphasize quality over quantity in their communications strategy, and by creating more meaningful conversations with their clients.

 

 

Agile Marketing in the Age of Disruption

By: Deb Well
PAICR Board of Directors member and 2017 Annual Conference Co-chair
PAICR Member since 2006

“I don’t want to scare you all, but….”  Lee Kowarski, DST Systems – PAICR Annual Conference Opening Keynote Speaker

We are being disrupted.  And we will continue to be disrupted at an increasingly faster pace.  And we need to embrace change, or else risk getting swept away or being made redundant or irrelevant.

That was just one of the very important messages delivered to the attendees of the PAICR Annual Conference in New York on November 13-14th.

Opening keynote speaker Lee Kowarski discussed industry consolidation, new competitive and disruptive entrants, technology adaptation, regulatory pressure, and changing advisor business models as just some of the catalysts of change reshaping the competitive landscape for asset managers. And he laid out the dramatic changes we all need to be thinking about to meet these challenges.

The distributor landscape is shrinking, asset managers are rationalizing their product lineups, and the future belongs to managers at opposing ends of the spectrum: those with broad product suites or specialized/niche players.

However, for the room full of asset management marketing professionals, there was an important piece of upbeat news – marketing is more important than ever before, and distribution teams are relying on them and becoming better partners than in the past.

All About Agile

Along with disruption, many of our conference sessions zeroed in on the concept of agile marketing – with both a big “A” and a little “a”.

Keynote speaker Andrea Fryrear of Agile Sherpas took on the big “A” Agile Marketing.  One of her key takeaways was about starting small – both in terms of implementing Agile once you return from the conference, but also in terms of creating an Agile marketing plan.  Build. Measure. Learn. Repeat. Start small and build up to scale.  Most firms now plan big, with the risk of failing big.  Starting small allows for learning from small failures with less risk and building small successes to bigger successes based on the knowledge gained from what you have measured and learnt.

Killing Marketing?

Keynote speaker Robert Rose introduced another disruptive concept – what if you killed marketing as it is practiced today?  He told the audience stories of several firms who have changed things up to look at marketing as a business model, rather than a functional cost center. They’ve re-invented their marketing as the function that invests in building audiences. Robert is the Chief Content Adviser for the Content Marketing Institute. Content Marketing has been THE buzzword in asset management over the last few years, so Robert’s talk was very timely, as well as the article on content marketing he contributed to our PAICR Blog before the conference.

Learn. Connect. Succeed

PAICR’s Annual conference has always stood as a great place for all attendees to learn about best practices in our industry for marketing and communication professionals and what they need to keep/make their firm more efficient and stay competitive. It is also a great way to connect with old contacts and meet new people, all of whom make up our incredibly supportive PAICR network that we can call on as a resource when needed.  In taking this time to come together at the PAICR Annual Conference, we all walk away with the keys to help our firms succeed, and to be ready for the many changes that face us as asset management marketers as we go forward into 2018.

Are you a PAICR Member? Learn about the benefits of membership here.

Want to become more involved, maybe help plan next year’s RFP or Annual Conference?  Send us an email and let us know

Why Are Asset Managers Expanding Beyond Thought Leadership Video?

By: Stu Siegal
Executive Producer/Creative Director, VLCreative
PAICR Gold Sponsor – Videolink
www.vlcreativegroup.com

Video has become an essential marketing tool for asset managers of all sizes.  Its power to forge a personal connection with portfolio managers who have been entrusted with great responsibility is now widely accepted and utilized. The good news for financial services marketers is that many asset management firms now regularly create Thought Leadership video, and that’s being well received by its target audience.

It’s also the bad news.  Sort of.

Because the bar has been raised, asset management firms now find it challenging to cut through the rapidly growing clutter of thought leadership video. Static videos of portfolio managers (PMs) in conference rooms discussing their philosophies, strategies, and perspectives are still an effective tool in the video marketer’s toolkit, but they are no longer enough on their own. As more and more of these types of videos are published, they can very quickly start to look too similar to each other.

So, what are smart marketers in asset management starting to do?

They’re thinking visually. They’re utilizing story and character. And they’re focusing on presentation delivery and tone in ways that can help differentiate their brand and their talent.

We recently completed a series of asset management profile videos that are a great illustration of how to get creative, tell a story, and establish your brand as a thought leader. Here are the three steps we took to help the brand and its sub-advisors stand out.

  1. Find a Story – Stories have a unique power to move people emotionally and intellectually. The end-goal of thought leadership is to make your PM’s relatable and trustable. What stories can you tell that will accomplish this goal? To find them, we held conversations with the brands in this series to discover who they were as people, and what their interests were outside of work.  In addition to meeting some very interesting people, we followed a creative path that led to a series of thought leadership videos featuring PMs connecting their professional philosophies to their hobbies. These included surfing, archery, and enjoying fine wines.
  2. Think Visually – Surfing, archery, and wine each made for distinct visual metaphors for the abstract topics involved in asset management. They instantly made their brands stand out amongst their peers. And because they were all tied to the stories of the portfolio managers, they brought an added layer of authenticity to each video. They were also a refreshing break from the traditional talking head approach to video.
  3. Focus on Character – Successful asset management is built upon performance, but performance is driven by portfolio managers, analysts, and management teams.  By focusing on those individuals as real people, we were able to maximize the ability of the video to help investors connect to them.  That connection builds trust and confidence in the investment team, both key drivers of ROI.

Thought leadership video is and will continue to be a staple of video marketing in the asset management space. The forms that it takes, however, will continue to grow and evolve in step with the changes in the video marketing landscape. The brands that take a fresh look at the format and tell great stories about interesting people are the brands that will cut through the growing clutter and earn the visibility and interest that all content marketers seek. So, what’s your brand’s story?

VideoLink-Logo-AVI-SPL-Vert_PMS

 

Trust: The Foundational Metric of Content Marketing

By: Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer -The Content Advisory
Keynote Speaker – PAICR Annual Conference 2017
Contentadvisory.net

When I work with financial services companies and discuss their content marketing strategy, almost inevitably the topic turns to “attention.” Basically, the program is being measured as an alternative to the advertising the firm is running. And the question that is asked is, “are we getting more of our audience’s attention?”

Every day you see new strategies to increase the attention we receive from our audiences and buyers. You have “attention marketing,” a term describing a business model built around the hyper growth of social media. There is the “attention economy,” which elevates the ability to gather attention as “one of the most important currencies of the 21st century.”

Interestingly, in our latest research at The Content Marketing Institute, we’re finding that there is an interesting correlation between the companies that are succeeding with content marketing and those that are building audiences. In our latest survey, 90% of those that are succeeding are focusing on building a loyal and subscribed audience. And that subscription comes down to something more than just attention. It’s a

If attention is gold, trust is bitcoin

As the saying goes, “Trust is the hardest thing to find and the easiest thing to lose.” And today, trust is in crisis. The annual Edelman Trust Barometer found this year:

“(The) general population’s trust in all four key institutions – business, government, NGO’s, and media – has declined broadly, a phenomenon not reported since Edelman began tracking trust among this segment in 2012.”

But you don’t need a research study to know that. You can feel it. It is an era of “fake news,” ineffective and corrupt institutions, cynical politics, duplicitous businesses, and even distrust of each other. Astonishingly, less than half of us think most people can be trusted.

As a marketer, you can personally lament the decline in trust in our culture, but you can’t ignore it. Developing a trusted relationship with your consumers is one of, if not the, most important things you must do.

Now, the development of trust is nothing new. Marketers have been talking about how to build more trust into our approach for decades. But becoming more transparent or dependable in the sales process no longer cuts it. Put simply: It is no longer adequate to begin developing a trusted relationship after the customer determines your product or service may be the answer.

Our world no longer starts trusting and occasionally becomes disappointed. As the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer concludes:

“Two-thirds of the countries we survey are now ‘distrusters’ (less than 50% trust in the mainstream institutions of business, government, media, and non-government organizations to do what is right).”

That’s right. We as consumers have become actively distrustful of every institution and brand. We have successfully democratized distrust in everything we do. But, would you like the good news?

As content marketing practitioners, this new era of distrust is our opportunity.

Be the trusted source

In my books, I talk at great length about how a subscribed audience gives you more efficient and effective access to your customers. And when we talk of Content Marketing, we almost exclusively talk about its benefits as a:

  • More efficient means of developing engaged leads
  • Method of being discovered in a noisy marketplace
  • Differentiator from the competition
  • Way to increase customer value

But what if one of your primary benefits of content marketing was developing “most trusted” status with your consumers more broadly? What if your brand could not only be the most trusted on a topic among the competition, but the most trusted brand full stop?

Historically, we looked at publishers of trustworthy media in our space and proclaimed, “Well, there’s no way we’re going to compete with that magazine, or that nonprofit, or that association, or that government institution.”

Except, now you can.

Trust as a metric

A few years ago, we worked with a B2B financial services institution targeting investors and advisers. We asked a sample of its target audience to rank the institution and its competition on a level of trust — both content and brand. We also asked them to rank a sampling of the top media companies in the space.

Our client company was middle of the pack when it came to trust among competitors. But, interestingly, its trust ranking was above — and in some cases well above – some of the media companies where the institution had been putting a good deal of its advertising.

Now, comparing trust in the financial services brand to trust in media brands was like comparing apples and oranges. But to help it reach its “increase brand trust” goal, we set a goal for its new content marketing property: become one of the most trusted content brands in thought leadership for advisers and investors.

Recently, we found some wonderful results when we looked at benchmarking research. The brand had, indeed, risen in general trust among both its competitors and media companies. Though the owned media property and its team certainly created some of that trust, the institution’s other brand and marketing efforts have assisted here as well.

Even more interesting were the results from the content brand’s subscribers. When we queried them in terms of trust of the content brand (using the blog name) among competitors and media companies, a large number trusted the brand more than any other competitor and most of the media companies.

These results provide a huge business case for continuing a content marketing initiative: Develop a more trusted relationship with audiences than the content platforms where you are placing paid media.

So, I ask this: will there come-a-day when this institution’s ad buyer goes to a media company, shows the subscriber research and asks, “We have a more trusted audience than you do. Perhaps you’d like to advertise with us?” Perhaps. But until then, it’s an extraordinarily important business metric to show success with its content marketing program.

Value is a trusting audience

As you can see from this example, success all comes down to the audience. All value is derived when an audience trusts the brand. The company may use this trust to leverage the trusting audience:

  • To provide data to inform other advertising and marketing efforts (Example: See how Kraft uses its platform.)
  • To be used as a pre-customer database to draw in more optimized leads (Example: See how Schneider Electric uses its Energy University platform.)
  • To provide cash or cost-savings value by bringing in partners (Example: Learn how companies like Zappos are making money with content marketing.)
  • To ensure that the brand’s TAM (total addressable market) expands (Example: Discover how Arrow Electronics is driving marketing as a business model.)

Media companies are going to double down on regaining trusted status. They must. Trust and the relationship with an addressable audience will be the only value left as advertising transforms and formats such as subscription, native advertising, and even sponsorship replace traditional banner and skyscraper ads.

Getting attention simply doesn’t cut it any more. And holding attention doesn’t really work any longer either. And even if you hold someone’s attention, you haven’t necessarily made them care.

Your opportunity is here. If you choose to act, the democratization of distrust can be the foundation of a transformation of what’s possible for your brand. Your brand’s trust no longer has to sit below media, nonprofit, or governmental institutions. You can develop the most trusted status with your consumers.

It’s up to you to be worthy of both the trust and the opportunity.