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What makes a financial services marketing team successful in the rapidly evolving world that we live in?  Three panelists at the 15th Annual PAICR Conference for marketing and communications professionals in financial services shared their insights. The speakers included Sue Matteson-King, Global Head of Marketing at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Maureen Bromwell, Managing Director at Munder Capital Management and Jim Link, CMO at PFM Asset Management.

No Substitute For Great Writers.  Regardless of the medium of communication, messaging comes down to the written word.  Ms. Bromwell and Mr. Link both echoed the importance of having great writers on your team.  A background in journalism or literature, applied properly, can do wonders for a marketing team.

Use Automation.  Ms. Bromwell emphatically emphasized that without using marketing automation tools, her team would not be able to update 400 pieces of marketing collateral every quarter.  “You need to automate everything that is necessary to the business,” she said.  Mr Link echoed that sentiment, pointing out that you first must identify the content being used most often to be able to say whether or not it is mission-critical for the business.

Social Networks Are For… Listening?  Social networks…the ultimate compliance nightmare.  How can your marketing team use them when you can’t even post updates or participate in conversations?  “We use Twitter and Linked In to procure information…we don’t need to post to listen and learn,” said Ms. Bromwell.  Targeted Linked In groups and following the right keywords on Twitter can go a long way to allowing a marketing team to get smarter without needing to get compliance #upset.

Cross-Train Talent.  Being a key part of the marketing team nowadays means you are more of a Jack-of-all-trades rather than a specialist.  Why? The panel suggested two reasons. First, many marketing teams are lean—and got a bit leaner after the financial crisis—so the need to be able to help out with shareholder reports, events and email campaigns is a single job function.  Second, as Ms. Matteson-King pointed out, “ You have to hedge against personnel risk. If you only have one person who knows how to do that role and they leave, who can quickly step in?”

Getting Collateral in One Place for the Sales Team.  At Morgan Stanley, the marketing team supports the field by providing all assets in a toolkit to the field, accessed through a content portal.  RFPs, pitchbooks and videos are all pre-packaged for the field to access through SharePoint.

Learn From The Field.  Marketing can’t function effectively if it is living in a bubble, detached from what is happening in the field. But what can be done? For starters, marketers can actually get out of the office and visit clients.  Mr. Link requires a certain amount of field time from his marketing team.  The sales and marketing teams at Munder remain in lock-step with each other by having consistent team meetings 1-3 times per week.  The marketing team at Morgan Stanley read the call notes generated by sales and shared through their CRM system and listen to research outreach of consultant relations.

Utilize “New Media.” The team at Munder is looking to make PDFs interactive with hyperlinked, embedded materials, as well as using engaging infographics and webcasts to engage with clients.  Short videos work well—even taking a 30 minute interview and chopping it into 10 three-minute pieces makes it more digestible.

Site UX For Them, Not Us. “Your website needs to be intuitive,” says Ms. Bromwell. “ How long does it take to get to the info that your clients wants?” should be the question you ask yourself, not how long it takes for them to get to the action you want, notes Ms. Bromwell.

Answer Client Questions, Not Your Questions.  The perfectly crafted message, straight out of an episode of Mad Men, that will instantly “wow” your clients…is dead.  Clients are for information, and your ability to provide it to them will separate you from your competitors.  Forget the lofty slogan—stick to the answers to their basic questions.

“Your Audience is Always People.” Mr. Link reiterated this phrase several times, reinforcing whether it is retail, intermediary or institutional, there is always another person on the other end of your marketing collateral.   Ensuring that you are providing them with what they need in as straightforward and human of a way as possible is the key.

Modern financial services marketing teams have more responsibility and accountability than ever before for not only supporting, but also growing the business. With the right mix of talent, technology and message delivery, your team can become an integral component of growing AUM.