Marketing investment management services is a tricky undertaking. Not only must marketers adhere to industry regulations and accepted practices, but gaining trust in the financial services field is notoriously difficult. Handling other people’s money is similar to providing healthcare services; clients are sharing their deepest personal information with and placing their future in someone else’s hands. So, successful marketing of investment management or any type of financial services is always built on a foundation of trust. Here’s a look at the challenges facing investment management marketers and how to overcome them.
1. Consumers feel a disconnect between digital and real-world experiences. To overcome the perceived disconnect between the experience in the digital world vs. the real world, think personalization. With many tools and technologies readily available at marketers’ fingertips, creating a truly personalized experience through digital channels is within reach for investment management marketers.
2. Differentiating an investment management brand is no simple task, yet it’s essential for gaining trust and resonating with the target audience. As DeSantis Breindel points out, investment management services frequently convey the same messages so consistently that consumers perceive them as empty promises – if they notice them at all. In looking at the asset management space overall, DeSantis Breindel found that common brand terms are repeated across the industry:
- Client-focused (used by 57% of firms)
- Global (47%)
- Strong risk management (434%)
- Disciplined approach (27%)
- Experience (27%)
- Trust/transparency (23%)
The challenge, then, is for investment management marketers to look beyond the cliches to find unique ways to solidify the brand and differentiate the firm. What that looks like, precisely, is different for every investment management firm, but the process begins with taking a deep and honest look at the organization to identify the ways that the firm stands out from the competition and then conveying those messages across channels.
3. Regaining trust without telling the audience that you’re trustworthy. Despite the multitude of investment management firms who state that they’re trustworthy on their websites and in other marketing collateral, there remains a substantial lack of trust among consumers when it comes to financial services. Thus, regaining consumer trust continues to be a top challenge facing investment management marketers, but marketers must find ways to build trust without coming right out and promoting the trustworthiness of their firms.
Some of the most effective ways to establish trust with your audience include client testimonials and social signals, as well as transparency in both marketing and operations. Data-driven marketing programs are best able to achieve these goals by adapting messaging, mediums, and other tactics to meet the changing demands of the audience and enabling marketers to fine-tune campaigns until they resonate with target consumers.
4. Consumers expect in-the-moment availability and real-time information. Technology has made it possible for consumers to manage practically every aspect of their financial lives online, with instantaneous results. Paying bills is as simple as scheduling payments to be sent from your financial institution, and it’s equally simple to find out what balances remain on everything from credit cards to personal loans, vehicle loans, and mortgages.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that investment management clients expect the same level of real-time information and instant access. That means investment management firms must adopt the latest technology available in the market, enabling clients to log on, make decisions, and take action related to their financial future from their mobile devices. With clients accessing these services from anywhere via their mobile devices, marketers must also adapt and meet their audiences on the same devices and mediums where they’re used to conducting financial business.
5. Mastering content marketing and digital advertising while maintaining compliance. Content marketing and other digital initiatives are quite effective – if done right. Investment management marketers can take cues from financial enterprises that have mastered the digital marketing space such as American Express, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other major players, and develop similar but innovative tools and resources to reach consumers. If investments are any indication, making an impact in the digital space is a goal shared by many financial services firms: digital advertising spending in 2016 is projected to increase by 14.5% over 2015 spending, reaching $8.37 billion. Financial services falls behind the retail and automotive industries, maintaining its current rank as the third-largest share of total digital advertising spend in the U.S.
This data clearly indicates that investment management marketers must readily adopt digital marketing initiatives in order to reach today’s consumers, but keeping pace with the fast-evolving digital world is no simple task. Coupled with the need to adopt more sophisticated IT and development methods, digital represents a large portion of budgets overall in the current climate. Adding to the complexity of adapting in the digital world is the issue of compliance. An industry with strict regulations regarding both the marketing of investment management services and the handling of client funds, investment management marketers have their work cut out for them. Staying up-to-date with any relevant regulatory concerns or new rules while developing marketing strategies is key for marketers in the ever-changing financial service climate that exists today.
These challenges point to the ongoing need for marketers (CMOs and other executives) to be more technology-savvy and CIOs to be more marketing-savvy to better meet the technology needs of the marketing department. There’s an ongoing, continued blending of marketing and IT functions across organizations of all types (with legal/compliance executives also playing a big role), but financial services firms are increasingly feeling this pressure as consumers have embraced digital financial management and providers are forced to keep pace in a state of change.