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.

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?

Technology Isn’t Process: How to Make Expensive Systems Work

By: Kyle Purcell
President of Purcell Communications
PAICR Gold Sponsor
www.purcellcom.com/

We see it all the time: clients battling the technologies that were meant to solve day-to-day communications headaches.

At the recent PAICR RFP conference, I shared a panel with Kent Jones, Director of Process Excellence at a Fortune 500 company. His insight was simple yet powerful. For better results, focus first on your work process—the human activities that drive the work.

“Process involves people, and people involve behaviors,” Kent says. “If you haven’t addressed behaviors that result in waste or duplication, then you may just be automating waste and duplication by adding technology.”

I couldn’t agree with this more. Coordinating automations and content management systems is a big part of our client engagements and in almost all cases, success or failure depends entirely on the people involved.

Kent had 3 great tips for people looking at implementing a new technology.

  • Your challenges are unique: Understand what works in your culture and solve for what doesn’t. Don’t assume an expensive or flashy new system will help.
  • Process starts with people: Clarify roles, set clear and measurable outcomes for each person at every level, and foster greater inter- and intra-team communication.
  • Seek good ideas from all levels: The knowledge you need already resides in the minds of your team. Having a good process can unlock that experience in a way that a costly technology may not be able to.

We share Kent’s belief that technology isn’t always the answer, and we have our own ideas on how to implement it. Technology doesn’t make a broken process function any better, whereas good process will always make a technology more effective. A well-defined, consistent process with buy-in from everyone is the first and last step in producing good work outcomes.

Purcell logo

Contact:  Derek Napoli, Director of Business Development – (240) 452-5200

Migrating to Salesforce

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

Salesforce seems to have been slowly taking over asset management (and the world for that matter) as the CRM of choice. If you aren’t currently using it—chances are you already went through a project where you considered using it—or are going through such due diligence now. Here are some important factors to consider that also apply even if your firm is already using it.

Lightning vs. Classic

Chances are if you are a current user, you are probably still using Classic Salesforce. Even though the latest incarnation of Salesforce—the Lightning experience—debuted back in 2015, many firms are still using Classic. Part of the reason of course is that it is hard to motivate a Sales Team that loves it “as is” to change. But equally as important is that when Salesforce rolled out Lightning, it didn’t have all the same functionality built in yet. Salesforce upgrades its software three times a year and yet, for instance, until the Spring 2017 version you still needed to hop over to Classic to merge duplicate contacts or accounts. If you are just now converting, you should go to Lightning straight out. If you are still on Classic—be sure to keep checking the releases to pick an optimal time to convert.

Build after, not before

How many times have you done a customization to your CRM … spent tons of time and money in development … only to see it go under-utilized once you roll it out? Quite often it is because the actual users are not driving the changes. One of the upsides to Salesforce is that a lot of potential customization is relatively quick and easy to execute and deploy—a benefit of the so-called “code-less customization environment”. Rather than asking users up front what they want to have, consider rolling out with the basics and have your users “test drive” for a few months. Actively using the product—especially in multiple environments (browser and mobile app)—will help highlight actual pain points for your users and hence where customization would make their lives easier. This way you can spend time developing things your users actually want as opposed to things people think they want.

There really is an app for that

A mapping tool? An email marketing tool? A tool to make mass updates to your data? Yes—there is an app for that. In fact, multiple apps! One important thing to understand is that Salesforce is not just a CRM. Much like Apple with iOS, Salesforce has become a platform. There are many developers out there creating solutions and offering them through the App Exchange. Most of the major software players in our industry have worked up integration solutions with Salesforce. So, before you decide to do internal development for any solution, first take a look at what might be offered on the App Exchange that might fit. It could be cheaper (or even free) than building something yourself.

It’s all about adoption

Why do most CRM solutions fail? Because of lack of end-user adoption. The upside of Salesforce is that it’s not only generally pretty easy to use, but the platform understands that adoption is key to successful implementation and so it has built tools to help solve the adoption issue. There are webinars and even an app specifically for Salesforce administration designed to help those on the support side keep on top of user engagement. You can see if your users are logging in—or not. If they have an issue, you can log in under their ID to see what they are seeing. Salesforce encourages spending time checking in and even sitting with users so that admins can see where there might be issues or places where the admin can give the users tips to be more efficient. Salesforce promotes better understanding of usage so that you can create better solutions for your end users. And they have an entire site—Trailhead—devoted to educating Admins, Developers and Business Users, which is free to use even if you aren’t a Salesforce customer.

Is Salesforce perfect? No. There is no CRM tool that is perfect. In fact, in terms of structure, they do some things that will look very different to many seasoned DBAs. But it is currently the largest player in our industry. However, you shouldn’t be using Salesforce because of this fact. (For those of you who have been around long enough to remember the industry dominance of the Siebel CRM, you will understand the caution here). That being said,- given the integration options it offers with many of the industry’s other vendors, the wide array of apps available for enhancements, and its mobile options, it makes sense to review it as a possible option, with the above tips in mind.

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!

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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