EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW & INSIGHTS
It’s all about quality vs. quantity. This is what Deborah Well, Director of E-Business at Harbor Capital Advisors, Inc. examined as part of the panel Marketing Sales & Communications panel at The Summit for Asset Management (TSAM) Boston 2018. In the lead-up to the event, we wanted to gain further insights into how marketers can achieve the right balance in their content marketing campaign, ensuring they are distributing their message across the right channels and in the right format.
How Marketing Times Have Changed
From 1990s consulting to 2010s CRM, the Director of E-Business tell us how the financial marketing space has advanced, based on experience that has helped her to look beyond the horizon. “I worked in consulting before entering the finance industry in the late 90s. I acquired a few IT certifications, thinking I would become a full-time tech, but was drawn to stay with marketing as it started shifting to digital,” Deborah shares. “I have been with Harbor for over 15 years. My core responsibilities have always been around marketing and CRM, but what that means has vastly changed over that time. Social was “My Space” back then, and websites were more like home pages. Things have changed a lot. I have always tried to look not just at what is trending now, but what is coming up ahead. We place great store in research and knowledge – doing our due diligence. We might not decide to participate in a certain marketing “trend” – but we will know all about it and have made an informed assessment as to whether it is the right fit for us.”
Something else being discussed is whether the use of white papers is still important for marketers – or are traditional white papers irrelevant in a modern marketing context? “The audience who has the time and bandwidth to read a 20-page white paper is diminishing. And reading a 20-page PDF is not a good user experience,” Deborah states. “There will always be a small niche of people who want to read the whole thing – but really in our current content marketing environment, this long-form content best serves as source material to feed distribution of shorter, “snackable” pieces for the web, blogs, and social, or as the basis for webinars or podcasts, since audio is really trending now.”
Quality vs. Everything Else
At TSAM Boston, Deborah will be participating in a discussion about getting the balance right in content marketing, focusing on the significance of email marketing campaigns. “I have long been a lone voice in the wilderness with my peers against the way our industry typically does email marketing campaigns. I have been to numerous conferences where advisors, RIAs and consultants complain about being “spammed” by asset managers, and I have long believed that the European model of “opt-in” vs. the American model of “opt-out” is the way to go,” Deborah explains. “People who ask to be sent specific content are much more likely to engage than people who haven’t asked for it. I have also found that much of the conversation about content marketing and email focuses on how much you need to be dripping on prospects to get results. I believe this is backwards. In our age of information overload, quantity isn’t a positive – quality is. If you deliver high-quality content consistently, readers will look forward to what you have to say.”
Automation within the marketing function is a hot topic at conferences and events. Typically, the conversation tends to focus on the good and what it can achieve – but what happens when automation goes wrong? “There is no quick fix to mitigate the damage. The key is to go into the installation of your automation process prepared,” Deborah advises. “In instances where I have seen bad experiences, the fault usually was either in poor training of those using the system, or not thinking out the process enough beforehand. Process is the foundation of your Marketing Automation house; if you don’t get that right at the outset, it is a costly and messy thing to fix.”
It’s Going to Get Disruptive Up in Here
Looking at the asset management industry, many people are speaking about the current or upcoming disruption, which not all asset managers are ready to face. “From what I have seen, very few are prepared for disruption,” Deborah muses. “A lot of firms are spending a ton of money on marketing automation and AI solutions in the belief that this will make everything more efficient. But most of these firms haven’t addressed the existing inefficiencies in their sales and marketing processes. Throwing cool software on top of inefficient processes will not make things better.”
ESG & Sustainable Investment is one such element that is getting a significant amount of mention amidst the disruption. Whether or not it will shape the investment landscape is another question. “Everyone I know agrees that the “G” in ESG will be basic table stakes in the future. It needs to be part of your portfolio management process. The other part is more up in the air,” Deborah deliberates. “We all hear that millennials are more concerned on these issues, and from there it is inferred that they will care about where their money is invested. But will they if the returns aren’t as great? That is the lingering question. If we look back to the 60s, we had a generation that was very socially conscious, but then in the 70s, when many settled down and moved to the suburbs, we suddenly saw the “Me” decade. I am hopeful that won’t happen with the millennials – but you never know.”
Continue the conversation at our dedicated Marketing & Sales Communications stream at TSAM London 2019 on 28th February.