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.
There 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.