13 Considerations for Stronger Mutual Fund Marketing and Sales

Are you an asset manager who has a great story to tell, but finds that investors aren’t paying as much attention as you’d like? Or perhaps you’ve been building your growth strategy and want additional ways to amplify your results?

Now is the perfect time to understand your current results and determine how you can strengthen your business over the next twelve months.

Take our growth assessment now.

Our checklist below, organized by strategic, marketing, and sales categories, will help ensure you’ve thought through the major considerations to grow your asset management firm and mutual funds in the new year.

THINK STRATEGICALLY

  • Review: Understand your current results and process before you think about the year ahead. Consider industry trends, your competitive situation, overall brand and ROI for the individual components of your current growth strategy. Think about specific tactics that worked – and didn’t – as a starting point for improvement.
  • Goals: Set specific goals for increasing assets under management. Your sales goal should be the difference between your assets under management goal and expected market fluctuation. Then you can develop a strategy to help get you there.
  • Story: Survey your existing clients or prospects who don’t know your firm yet. Their responses will help you determine answers to questions such as what makes your firm unique or different from other firms or how your funds/strategies can be used in a client’s investment portfolio. Don’t be surprised if there are gaps between your thinking and theirs. Then be sure to tell your story consistently across all your communications channels.
  • Target Market and Accessibility: Understand who your existing clients are and why they chose to give business to your firm. This will help you find new prospects that are likely to buy. Data tools such as sales reporting and RIA databases can help you develop an understanding of your existing advisors and those in the marketplace faster and more accurately than you would without the information.
  • Pricing and Share Class: Most fund flows are coming into no-load, load-waived and I shares. Be sure your share classes match what your ideal clients would buy. Also, align your fees with your competition. Focus on the expense ratio of competing funds that are selling, not on category averages.

BUILD YOUR BRAND (AND LEADS)

  • Website: Websites have moved far beyond the “brochure on the Internet” from the past. Now, your firm’s website can be a portal for timely information designed to engage your audiences. News coverage, commentaries and videos, among other things, can be posted on your website to keep advisors and investors coming back. Through technology, you can also track which advisors are returning to pages on your website and convert them to leads.
  • News Coverage: A public relations strategy is working with reporters that influence your target audiences to create stories that feature your people, products and brand. Be proactive with journalists. Don’t just wait for them to find you. Good coverage can attract leads and add credibility to your other sales and marketing efforts. Opportunities include talking to reporters to be in their stories and submitting stories for publication. Be sure to repurpose your coverage on your website and in your other sales and marketing efforts for credibility such as with your sales team.
  • Timely Content: Develop commentaries, proprietary research, white papers, and shorter insight posts that will interest your audiences. Videos, webinars, and infographics are also becoming more popular. Post the content on your own channels such as your website and distribute through your own digital marketing efforts like email. You can also increase your reach by submitting them to news publications and websites where financial advisors and investors spend their time.
  • Digital Marketing: Marketing automation strategies can keep your message in front of thousands of clients – and prospects – at the same time. Using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter are becoming effective ways for advisors to engage with fund firms. While these strategies take a commitment of time and resources, you will be amazed at the analytics over time. You’ll be able to track who is engaging with your content across your website, email marketing, and social media – specific names, not just aggregate numbers. These top leads or clients can then be called on by your sales team. But be sure to avoid ways on wasting your money.

STRENGTHEN YOUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

  • Key Accounts: Many boutique firms lack team members who are dedicated to working with platform gatekeepers. As a result, no one is in charge of building relationships with decision makers and understanding the process to be considered for model portfolios or select lists. In addition, you may not know who your major competitors are for each platform, or the best ways to navigate each platform to seek opportunities to gain visibility. Some opportunities to tell your story are no cost or low cost once your funds are available on the platform. Others have high price tags, so it’s important to develop a strategy based on sales priorities.
  • Sales Teams: There are many models of sales teams – internals who set up meetings and provide support, externals who travel to meet with advisors and hybrids who perform both internal and external roles. Experienced wholesalers come with strong relationships and a large Rolodex of advisors to call on. Younger ones bring energy to the process.
  • Sales Management: Sometimes in boutique firms, the sales team is “managed” by the CEO and/or portfolio manager who would rather be picking stocks. As a result, the sales team may not have set goals, direction, and accountability to drive sales and new advisors. A manager or coach can help work through issues such as levels of production, compensation, territories, and budgets. A manager or coach can also play the role of a buffer between CEO and the sales team.
  • Customer Relationship Management: The best way to turn contacts into relationships is by using a CRM database. In addition to keeping track of day-to-day contacts with financial advisors and other audiences, your CRM can also house your sales aggregation and digital marketing data to provide a fuller picture of clients and leads all in one place. Dashboards can be used by management to understand wholesaler activities and production.

Time to Get Going for Growth

The most sophisticated sales and marketing strategy won’t help a firm with a lousy story. But a firm with a good story to tell can grow by thinking through their goals and developing an appropriate strategy to get there.

The word appropriate is important. Your strategy should be based on your goals, your staffing resources and your budget. If you are like some boutique firms, you won’t be able to focus on all the considerations above. Instead, prioritize two or three and try to improve your results.

Then be sure to monitor, adjust and improve throughout the year.

Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations and sales programs. Lick to read Dan’s latest Insight articles and to schedule a complimentary consultation.