5 Principles for a Successful Shift to Collateral Automation

By: Michelle Gerber
PAICR Member, PAICR Research Committee member

Automation, in all its forms, has left few occupations undisrupted, and marketing is no different. Like the transition from horses to cars, typewriters to computers and newspapers to digital screens, the production of marketing collateral continues to evolve toward an increased use of intelligent machines. This transition is an ongoing focus for many investment management firms.

AutomationThere is no single way to determine the route a firm should take to collateral automation, but as your firm works to advance the efficiency and effectiveness of its marketing program, forethought and expectation setting can go a long way.  Experience suggests there are principles to keep in mind as you work to refine your process and see it through to a successful outcome; here are 5 to consider as you navigate toward an automated collateral production system:

  1. Know your network and grow your network. Share knowledge and experiences and listen to the challenges and achievements of those around you. Keep an ear to the ground for new trends, tools and tips; they can save you time and bridge information gaps. Look for insights far and wide, from colleagues to vendors, across departments and throughout industries. Know who to turn to when you need an extra hand or three.
  2. Define big picture goals upfront and key milestones along the way. Dedicate time to review these at regular intervals, and keep an open and flexible mind to the possibility of altering tactics to achieve your end goals.
  3. Be thorough in vetting potential automation platforms. Compare the needs of your marketing department to the strengths and weaknesses of the various service providers that will be competing to win your business. Involve your IT department, as well as your sales staff, data managers, and compliance officers so that you understand the priorities of each and make a best faith effort to accommodate all stakeholders. Their support is vital to the success of the project.
  4. Identify risks at every step and create safeguards to minimize their potential impact. Keep your compliance department informed of changes, and document the processes to maintain transparency and to build a solid institutional knowledge base within your firm. Anticipate the necessity to add resources at various and potentially unexpected points.
  5. Build an infrastructure that provides for flexibility and continuous optimization. Marketing is a living process, so expect targets to move. Don’t build a system that is so inflexible that it needs to be disassembled and rebuilt in order to accommodate unforeseeable shifts in data sources, product strategies, messaging and branding.

Reaching the goal of a reliable, flexible, and scalable collateral automation system is a big win, so give yourself a pat on the back if you are there already. But don’t get too comfortable. Having raised your marketing department’s capabilities to put your firm ahead of the curve, it’s time to look ahead to the next curve. By learning to anticipate and identify industry trends and the shifting needs of your clients, your firm can capitalize on the opportunities that exist within. The intrepid marketer should use the achievement of collateral automation as a launch point to explore the next revolution.

3 Easy Steps to Making your Conference Attendance a Success

By: Steven King
PAICR Board of Directors member

Let’s be honest, conferences can be hard to justify. There are probably only two or three sessions that you’re really interested in, yet you must convince your manager that staying two to three days in some place like Orlando will be worth your time. Yet, you can turn almost any conference into a success and make it more likely that your boss will send you to the next conference — if you follow these three simple steps.

Step 1: Bring back something you or your team can implement right away.

Conferences are filled with opportunities to pick up innovative ideas you can implement right away. They may come from a session on a topic that you may know intimately, or they may come from talking to the individual next to you at lunch. Be open to the fact that even on topics you may know intimately, you might pick up one new piece of information that could immediately impact the way you or your team does business today. When you find your little nugget of gold, write it down and be prepared to share it as soon as you get back into the office.

Step 2: Bring back something you or your team should work toward implementing within the next three to six months.

This step takes a little bit more work. Think about the challenges you and your team are facing before you get to the conference. What are the pain points or areas where you just can’t seem to get to a workable solution? Knowing the problem(s) you’re facing and having them top of mind makes it easier to spot the solution when a presenter covers your same problem in a session. You may have to attend every session of the conference to find the one that gives you a great idea to work through with your manager when you return, but it will be worth it. Of course, you should attend all the sessions anyway. Don’t skip out. This is your chance to improve your knowledge and make yourself a more valuable asset to the firm when you return!

Step 3: Expand your network for yourself and the firm.

Of course, conferences are your chance to “expand your network,” but what does that mean? Are you looking to make friends, find the cool kids, connect with the manager of your next job? No! Well, maybe, but let me give you a tip that will pay you back for years to come. You want to connect with people that you would be comfortable picking up the phone and calling when you encounter a problem that you’re just not sure how to handle. Chances are that someone at that conference has been there before and can help you with your problem. Introduce yourself to the speakers of the sessions that seemed the most helpful to you and your team’s problems. Talk with strangers at lunch and networking sessions to find out what they do. And don’t forget to exchange business cards with them. Talk with each vendor and get to know them and their firm. Sometimes they can put you in touch with others in the industry that they know. Your goal here is to find two to three people that you can call or email in the future. You’ll be amazed at how willing your new network is to help you.

Bonus Tip: Don’t get caught up in the late-night activities.

If you’re new to attending a conference, the late night after-parties can sound like fun, but my advice? Don’t do it unless you know you can still get up and make that 8AM conference kick-off the next morning. Especially if it took some cajoling to get the budget to attend! Show your boss and firm the professional you are.

If you implement these three steps, chances are that your boss will gladly send you to that next conference event. Just remember to bring back souvenirs for your team (ideas to implement now and later) and memories (names of industry peers) for you to access at a future date.

Get Your RFP Insights Here

2018 RFP Symposium Committee

A few years ago, I sat in an airport with colleagues talking about our jobs. What do you say when someone asks you what you do? Fueled by beer and exhaustion, we threw out phrases highlighting the best business buzzwords—leverage, facilitate, organize, write. But nothing felt like it totally encompassed the incredible responsibility (and sometimes frustrating limits) of the position. As RFP professionals, we’re expected to demonstrate knowledge that runs both deep and broad, juggle competing priorities, and organize all parts of the firm to respond to a prospect’s request. The role touches everyone, but is ultimately unique in scope.

I’m not saying we’re a rare breed—or maybe we are? But it’s so great when the person/s on the other side of the conversation speaks the same language as you—at least “professionally”; when you’re all part of essentially the same “tribe.” Because chances are you all face exactly the same challenges, and you can all benefit from brainstorming solutions for your shared problems together.  So where can you find a tribal gathering of RFP professionals?  Well, the most immediate opportunity is at the PAICR RFP Symposium in NYC on Monday, May 7.

PAICR’s annual meeting—dedicated to those in the investment management RFP world—is a distinct forum where  proposal professionals get to discuss a range of relevant and topical issues. Through interactive sessions, you have the opportunity to engage with your peers from other firms across the industry. So, come with stories of your challenges and successes … and be prepared to walk away armed with new, actionable ideas to improve your processes and re-engage afresh with your job.

Here are a few of the important topics we will be covering this year:

  • Who’s the Boss? Explore how a RFP Team’s reporting structure can influence its effectiveness within the organization. This panel discussion will lead you through an interesting review of how RFP teams have been positioned throughout the industry.
  • Rise of the Machines In today’s competitive environment, proposals that show an understanding of the prospect’s goals and objectives will have a clear edge. All too often, important information from the sales team doesn’t get funneled to the proposal team. This break-out session will offer case studies of firms that leverage their CRM tool within the proposal process to effectively disseminate information and improve outcomes.
  • I Want it Now! Teams can no longer choose between quality and quantity; both are demanded simultaneously. This session will focus on how to manage this recurring debate in order to meet deadlines and maintain your sanity.

In addition to these sessions, the symposium continues to offer great training for both new and seasoned professionals. A classic forum, RFP 101, will guide writers and managers through the nuts and bolts of a successful RFP process.

So, if your team is in need of an “information-shot in the arm” on new and leading industry trends, join us at the PAICR 2018 RFP Symposium on May 7. The Early Bird registration special is available only until April 20, so get a move on … and we’ll see you in New York!

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

Getting the Most Out of a Conference

By: Tom Mulligan
PAICR Vice President, PAICR Board of Directors member
PAICR Member since 2010

You’re on your way to the conference! That’s great. But how can you ensure you get the most out of it? In my experience, it is important to network and to participate. Although some of these ideas may seem a bit uncomfortable at first, getting out of your comfort zone a bit is often when the magic happens.

  1. Network

Even when the sessions at a conference are great, sometimes you get more out of the networking than you do out of the programming. Conferences are great places to meet and connect with peers, to share experiences and best practices.

First, look at the attendee list early and often. Do you see anyone you know? If so, try to contact them in advance and arrange to meet for coffee or lunch one day. You can do the same with someone you don’t know. Maybe it’s someone at another firm in your city, or someone in the same role as yours at another firm that you really admire. Whatever the reason, attending the conference provides a great opportunity to introduce yourself and make a connection.

Second, work on your in-person networking skills in advance. Be assertive in introducing yourself to new people. Have a list of questions in your mind ready to ask someone you meet—conversation-inducing, but without getting too heavy. Some possibilities are:

  • “What did you think of the speaker this morning/afternoon?”
  • “How did you hear about this conference?”
  • “How often do you visit (the conference host city)?”

You don’t want to overstay your welcome. You can excuse yourself by making a call, going to the restroom or getting a drink. Sometimes it can be a great move to introduce your new contact to someone else you know who is nearby. That helps both of them expand their network, AND gives you an opportunity to exit stage left without leaving someone alone.

Third, take LOTS of business cards. Most conferences have social/meet-and-greet activities and “introduce yourself to three people around you”–type competitions. Even in this era of social media, the good old-fashioned business card still gets a lot of use.

Finally, be sure to follow up with everyone you meet at the conference. A short “It was nice to meet you” note, and possibly an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, will help you remain in better contact with all of your new connections.

  1. Participate

Lots of people are afraid to ask questions. They don’t want to appear ignorant in front of their peers. And the bigger the audience, the more afraid they are. But asking questions helps you learn, so you shouldn’t hold back. To help you get comfortable with asking that question, here are a few potential ways you can pose it:

  • “A colleague and I were just talking about this yesterday; he was wondering about (topic of your question)—what would you recommend?”
  • “I’m familiar with (one part of the speaker’s topic), but am not as knowledgeable about (another part of the speaker’s topic, which is related to the topic of your question)—can you please explain (your question)?”
  • “I’ve been focusing on a project in (area NOT related to the topic of discussion) for a while, and haven’t kept up on (area RELATED to the topic of discussion) recently—can you please remind me (topic of your question)?”

Also, be willing to share your experiences that relate to the topic. People attend conferences not only to hear and learn from speakers, but to hear and learn from peers as well. In fact, many of the speakers in the smaller breakout settings are counting on audience participation.

Your willingness to share will often make others feel more comfortable sharing as well, making the session more valuable for all involved. In addition, you might be surprised to find how many people have experienced challenges similar to yours, and you can gain some new insights from initiating the conversation.

In my opinion, the more you network and participate at a conference, the more you will get out of the conference experience. So go ahead and step out of your comfort zone!