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?

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So Many Channels – So Little Time

By: Deb Well
PAICR Board of Directors member
PAICR Member since 2006

In the beginning, there were three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You had to decide which of these channels made sense for your firm, work with Compliance to form a process everyone was comfortable with, and then move forward. All was good.

But now we also have Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and different permutations of the existing platforms: Facebook Live, Instagram Stories … and the list continues to expand! That’s made the decision of where and how to distribute your content more complex – in addition to the burden of maintaining active feeds in all of these channels.

Maybe you think you don’t need to consider going beyond the basics. But if you don’t consider it now, you risk being left behind. Video and visual assets are dominating online marketing. You need to have a visual content strategy and consider distributing your content via the channels where visual plays best.

Here are three quick tips to effectively expand your social reach and help you successfully expand beyond the basics:

Every Picture Tells a Story

If you have been involved in marketing on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, I am sure you are familiar with the stats on how posts that include visuals – pictures, video, or even emoji – get higher engagement stats. One such stat shows that Tweets with images earned up to 18% more clicks, 89 % more favorites, and 150% more retweets.

If you are already using visuals on these main platforms, is it such a stretch to think of how you could leverage them on Instagram or Pinterest? Or that video content on YouTube or Vimeo? As stated in a previous post, you have 8 seconds to get the average person’s attention. Today’s fastest-growing channels are visual based. Estimates are that 84% of communication will be visual by 2018. So you need to act now!

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

How annoyed do you get when you see a text-only tweet that is just a link to an Instagram post? Plenty of sites allow you to post to other sites at the same time. So, when I post the cute pic of my cat, Buttons, to Instagram, I have the option to post it to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Messages should be customized to take advantage of what works and resonates on a platform. It is fine that your posts in all these different places may ultimately lead to the same source content. After all, these platforms, and those who you reach on them, often represent widely different audiences. That’s why your message should be tweaked to fit the specific audience you are addressing.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

While some of your content is going to be more “spontaneous” – something big happens and you need to respond in the moment – most of your content strategy should be planned out. That doesn’t mean a plan that’s “set in stone.” Your strategy needs to evolve to reflect data and analytics on which content is succeeding and where. That’s why you really should be using a social media management tool or a social media aggregator. Whether that is Hootsuite, Buffer, or any of the numerous others out there, these tools can help you:

  • Queue up content ahead of time
  • Provide analytics on what is succeeding (and what isn’t),
  • View interactions
  • Find relevant related content to share, and
  • Adjust your sharing and strategy based on insights you’ve gleaned

The Tenets of Success

Build. Measure. Learn. Repeat.

Start small. Test concepts. Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t be complacent.

These are the keys to an effective and efficient plan to improve your social media reach. The ways in which you effectively communicate with your audience is rapidly changing. You don’t want to be left behind.

The Agile Marketing (R)Evolution

By: Andrea Fryrear
Founder and Chief Content Officer – Fox Content Ltd.
Keynote Speaker – PAICR Annual Conference 2017
www.foxcontentltd.com/

What happens to a marketing department when it undergoes an Agile transformation? It turns out it doesn’t just get a fancy piece of software or a faster pace of work. A survey of CMOs and marketing leaders reveals that:

  • 93% improved speed to market.
  • 87% had more productive teams.
  • 80% were better able to prioritize the work that matters.

But these kinds of Agile success stories don’t happen by accident. They require detailed planning, careful execution, and ongoing commitment. Marketers can’t just throw their annual plans in the shredder, start pivoting every other week, and expect to reap the benefits of agility.

We need to fully understand what it means to practice Agile in a marketing context if we want the chance to sprint ahead of our competition.

What is Agile Marketing?

Living from crisis to crisis, never being able to think strategically, and constantly missing deadlines have long been the reality for many marketing teams. But now our audiences expect personalized, relevant messaging and our bosses expect us to document our bottom line impact. Old school processes just can’t deliver those outcomes. Faced with this untenable situation, more and more teams are searching for a better way to manage their work.

 As this Google Trends graph shows, many of them are turning to Agile marketing as a possible solution:

Agile post Google graph

But what does it really mean to practice Agile marketing?

Agile vs. agile

I once had a boss who would swoop in, cancel all the work marketing had in progress, and declare a totally new priority for us to pursue. His justification: he was being agile. True, he was making frequent changes, but that’s not the same as practicing Agile marketing.

Don’t be fooled: changing your mind all the time does not make you Agile.

Agile marketing, with a capital “A”, involves the deliberate application of a specific Agile methodology to the way marketing executes its work. And, like all great marketing, it’s founded on a well-researched, audience-centered marketing strategy. Planning and strategy should — and must — be part of an Agile approach. Without them, Agile teams just end up doing the wrong work more efficiently.

Three Agile Methodologies

If you’ve heard much about Agile in the past, chances are it was closely associated with the Scrum methodology. While Scrum is the most popular approach in the world of software and IT (where Agile practices originated), it’s not the only way to put Agile ideals into practice.

Lightweight, flexible options like Kanban and Scrumban offer marketing teams more leeway, and typically align more closely with the way we already do our work.

So when the time comes for your team to take its first steps on an Agile marketing journey, investigate all three methodologies first.

Agile Principles and Values

Agile marketing isn’t just about speed, efficiency, or methodologies. It’s founded a set of principles and values known as the Agile Manifesto (there’s also a marketing-specific one) that influences every aspect of how we approach our work.

For instance, Agile teams value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Many small experiments over a few large bets
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions
  • Intimate customer tribes over impersonal mass markets
  • Engagement and transparency over official posturing

Notice the emphasis on audience value and data-driven decisions. Remember, Agile isn’t just about getting faster, it’s about doing better work. Incorporating Agile values into your team’s DNA will not only increase its agility, it will help it start delivering marketing that actually matters.

What’s in it for Finserv Marketing

We’ve already covered some of the big picture benefits of taking a more Agile approach to marketing: faster speed to market, higher levels of productivity, and better prioritization. But Agile marketing offers a vast array of benefits for financial services marketing.

The list is long, but here’s a short sample.

The Power of Iteration

First, Agile marketing teams are empowered to respond quickly to emerging opportunities in their space. Typically a traditional team creates long term plans, sometimes quarterly or annually , designed to reach a goal or opportunity. They’ve invested time, resources, and budget into those plans, so once they’re in motion deviating from them is costly.

This is known as a waterfall approach, and it’s represented by the gray line on the chart below.

Agile post Waterfall Graph

Image source: Forbes

 Agile teams, on the other hand, follow the blue line. They release small pieces of marketing work often, evaluate their performance, and then iterate based on the data. Sometimes this means expanding on a successful experiment, other times it means abandoning a failed idea.

In both cases there’s little risk, because the release was small. Over time they might build up to a larger, more expensive campaign, but only once they’ve validated the concept through iterative releases.

Either way, they can nimbly pivot over time to hit their target.

More Marketing, Less Drama

One of my favorite outcomes, when marketers switch to an Agile approach, is the sense of calm that descends on the team. There’s less stress, more creativity, and a much stronger sense of unity.

A 2016 survey of hundreds of marketers offers a more quantitative look at the benefits of working on an Agile marketing team:

  • Improved teamwork and morale (13.7%)
  • Better division of work between team members (9.7%)
  • Better team alignment on priorities (16.2%)

When we compare this is a 2015 study on marketers’ overall stress levels, the difference becomes even clearer:

Agile Post Circle Graph

Agile alleviates stress to create space for teams to do outstanding work, which, let’s face it, is the only way for brands to differentiate themselves anymore.

Better, Faster, Smarter Campaigns

It’s not just individual marketers who benefit from an Agile transformation. When we make marketing teams more effective, we produce more impactful marketing that helps our organizations grow.

  • Better: 80% of Agile teams can deliver a better, more relevant end product
  • Faster: 87% of Agile teams are more productive
  • Smarter: 93% of Agile teams can switch gears more quickly and effectively

Agile practices were designed to deliver these kinds of results because they originated in software in the 1990s, when large projects would routinely run years late and millions of dollars over budget.

Most of us haven’t gotten anywhere near that level of disaster, but who doesn’t want quantifiably better market campaigns that actually get finished faster?

Agile is the Answer

Modern marketing exists in a state of constant disruption, and it shows no signs of getting simpler anytime soon. Agile marketing represents our best, and maybe our only, chance of dealing with this new reality.

Be sure to see Andrea at the PAICR Annual Conference November 13-14th in New York City.  Register Now!

Fish food for thought: Your target audience has the attention span of a goldfish

By: Megan Schreck
PAICR Communications Committee member
PAICR Member since 2016

Welcome to 2017, a year when the power of social media and digital marketing has never been more pronounced. Not convinced? Just ask United Airlines, President Trump, or the young man who received a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets for beating a retweet record. I bet they would be able to tell you a story or two about the ugly, the bad, and the good of a society that is constantly connected. The point is we live in an age when information is constantly flooding our newsfeeds, home screens, and inboxes. And the ability to obtain information has never been greater or more instantaneous.

In a recent Microsoft study, which focused on analyzing our attention spans as a result of the increasingly prevalent digital lifestyle, the research revealed that as end users we are adapting to a culture of connectivity. This should be good news for marketers, right? Well, yes and no.

The good news: As an increasingly tech-savvy end user base, we are able to process and encode information to memory more efficiently. (Whew, dodged a bullet there.)

The bad news: We are competing in an information war zone alongside every other marketer. (Alright, game faces on, marketing staff.)

The ugly news: End user attention spans have decreased to 8 seconds. 8. Seconds. According to the study, that’s less than the attention span of a goldfish. (Pause for a collective and incredulous jaw drop).

But Microsoft’s study shouldn’t frighten any modern day marketing professional. And if we’re honest, the research merely solidified what we intuitively knew. But what the research does is reinforce that the need for marketing resources, and talent capable of cutting through the constant noise, is no longer a nice to have, it is table stakes.

So how do we as marketers engage a user base that is more connected than ever, better equipped than before to process our message, but with an attention span that is less than that of a goldfish? I thought you might ask that.

Here’s some marketing fish food for thought:

  • Tighten up your target audience: Don’t waste valuable marketing resources by casting too wide a net.
  • Keep your call to actions clear, concise, and clutter free: You have eight seconds, make them count. Keep the goal of your marketing simple, actionable, and prominently placed.
  • Develop a healthy dependence on data: Similar to the movie Finding Nemo, develop the mantra that fish are friends, not food. Invest in the ability to research and understand the demographic and behavioral patterns of your target audience with the goal of creating user-focused content.
  • Use the creative collective to curate content: We as marketing professionals all want to believe that our idea is the next best thing since sliced bread. But the really good marketing teams know that the best ideas and innovative solutions come when everyone is at the table. Keep your eyes and ears open for innovative ideas – they can come from anywhere or anyone.
  • Don’t tighten the noose with typos: Remember, eight seconds. Don’t ruin your chances with a typo. Develop an editorial process within your marketing team that requires multiple sets of eyes to ensure all your hard work doesn’t go to waist (please note: pun intended).

Oh, and a final note, mainly on a personal pet peeve level, but absolutely spell check first names when doing personalized messages. Because candidly speaking, nothing causes me to delete an email faster than one that begins “Dear Meghan.” And I venture to guess that I’m not alone.

Now, what about you? What marketing “fish food for thought” would you add to this list?

Financial Services Stories are Emotional Stories

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

It’s safe to assume that we’ve all seen, liked, and shared a funny ad or an online tearjerker video produced by a brand.  At first glance, the popularity and success of emotion-driven videos may not seem like a natural fit for financial services videos.  Within the industry, there’s a frequent perception that financial services videos should focus on performance, numbers, or value.  And while these are often components of finserv videos, recognize that there’s always a core emotional component just beneath the surface that can make the difference between a good video and a great one.

Trust within the Financial Services industry is at an all-time low; the industry generally ranks just below oil companies in terms of trustworthiness and favorability.  Trust and confidence are powerful emotions, as are empathy and passion.  Video is a medium ideally suited to communicate nonverbal concepts. Consumers want to watch videos that they can emotionally connect to, and opportunities abound for brands that use video to drive trust and confidence.

This concept extends beyond B2C video to Thought Leadership, a staple of B2B finserv video.  During a recent PAICR webinar I hosted with Gail Graham, who until recently was with United Capital, Gail noted that for execs on camera, “It’s really important to relax and be human. (At United Capital) we have a saying, we’re not B2C, we’re not B2B, we are human to human. So, the relaxation, the communication, the eye contact, and the smiling; really matters when you are dealing with your customers” … “Produce short, animated, 30 to 60-second videos that tell people what you should expect or what you’ll get by working with your firm. Those are just two areas that we are looking to push, and again give people that sense of understanding beyond the formality, the formal exterior that they see so much.”

Customers are tired of seeing the ‘engine room’, as Gail calls it, and expect a higher level of intimacy than in years past. Columbia Threadneedle Investments, the asset management division of Ameriprise, is taking the same approach.  Andrew Most, VP of Creative and Content Strategy at Columbia Threadneedle noted “We are presenting a level of intimacy in the format of thought leadership, so our customers understand the people and the thinking behind these products are real power-houses in the industry. We want to make sure they have that same level of confidence in their advisor who is selling our product”.

Confidence and trust are powerful emotions that play key roles in a customer’s overall perception of your brand. Financial Service brands who are committed to content that connects on an emotional level are winning back their customers’ trust and succeeding in the industry. On your next project, think about how going deeper than a story about performance, philosophy, or experience, by directly addressing the emotions beneath these topics, might drive a greater return on your videos.

 

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Why Join the Twitterverse?

By: Deb Well
PAICR Board of Directors member
PAICR Member since 2006

Twitter has always had a bit of an identity crisis.

If I asked you what you thought about Twitter six months ago – your answer would likely be different than today.  A place for Breaking News?  A world that revolves around all things Kardashian? A place to commune with other like-minded souls during live TV events (the Super Bowl, the premiere of The Walking Dead, or Sharknado – numbers 1-4)? Lately, of course, Twitter has been at the center of politics and public debate, and is the favorite way for the President to communicate directly with the people.

But how can Twitter be useful to you?

Content is King

Twitter is a hub of what I call “curated search”.  That means that things are shared there by people who have read them and find them valuable.  This isn’t Google, where SEO and math algorithms determine what rises to the top.  This is the human element.  If you learn how to use Twitter well – you can use this platform as a tool to greatly aid in research and to stay better informed.

The Power of Lists

If you follow someone on Twitter, everything they tweet will end up in your Home Page feed. If you follow a lot of people – your Home feed can get cluttered pretty quickly.  Using Lists on Twitter is a great way to create sub-feeds in a more organized fashion on specific topics.   A list is a collection of specific members’ tweets.  You don’t need to follow someone to make them a member of a List. For instance, I have a list called Thought Leaders, where I have Bill Gates and Daniel Pink as some of the members.  I have another Tech specific list where I follow various industry sites and blogs, such as Vox, Tech Crunch and Pando Daily. You could create lists focused on experts who share about Social Media, or Design, or create a list of some of the top competitors to your firm, to keep abreast of what they are sharing.

 #HashtagWithCare

Hashtags may have started out on Twitter, but they now are a standard tool for optimizing search on a huge number of social media platforms.  If you tweet without hashtags, you are just whispering into the wind.

Hashtags started as a way to amplify words to be found in search.  But they have evolved. Events now create their own hashtag so that attendees can share online content before, during, and after the event. I am sure everyone at the upcoming PAICR RFP Symposium in May will be tweeting and sharing their insights live using #PAICRRFP2017.

Hashtags have also emerged to commemorate monthly celebrations – for instance, February was #BlackHistoryMonth.  Themes have also evolved for days of the week.  In the UK, Tuesday is #CharityTuesday. Wednesday in the US is all about taking care of yourself with #WellnessWednesday. And if you are looking to remind people of great times past, don’t forget #TBT ( #ThrowbackThursday).

Hashtags will help you find that key content you are researching. Knowing the right ones will also help anything you share on Twitter be part of the conversation.

Follow Me, Follow You

Unlike lists, following someone on Twitter is a greater commitment – but also has specific benefits.  So why follow?  Because you want to see what they say every day and because of Direct Messaging.  If I follow Beyoncé, she can send me a direct message.  (I didn’t say she would – but she Can). Direct messaging is private.  It doesn’t show up on anyone’s feed.  One of the most amazing things about Twitter is this aspect of universal reach.

How is this helpful? Imagine you are a CEO of a big corporation. A lot of information gets filtered before it every gets to you.  But if you choose to be on Twitter – you can have direct conversations with the people who use your product.  You may or may not like what they tell you, but it is a new avenue of first-hand information – without a third party in the middle possibly diluting the message.

How can this help you?  Think of it as another avenue for networking.  On LinkedIn, we have our connections – and connections to connections.  But on Twitter, you might be able to get the attention of someone who might not be on LinkedIn – or might be beyond your circle.  It gives you a chance to reach out, network, or have a conversation with people that you might not be able to reach in any other way.

The New Water Cooler

Twitter isn’t just the place that people congregate to discuss what happened last night or over the weekend.  Twitter is where people are having conversations about what is happening now. It is where people are sharing important things they are reading.  It’s where virtual connections are being made that couldn’t happen in the physical world.  Maybe tweeting and sharing information is not your thing.  But that doesn’t mean you should sit on the sidelines.  Like that great party down the street that everyone is going to – if you don’t like to dance, you can still come to the party and have a great time listening to the music, meeting new people and discussing cool things.