Management companies: how do you establish your digital strategy?
Every management company today is patently aware that over the years, digital technologies have become a driver of change throughout their business, at times going so far as to question their very existence. Marketing is among the areas most affected are marketing and, by extension, communication.
Let us be clear, these innovations do not change the underlying nature of communication, let alone its mission. What they do, however, is help to extend traditional tools and amplify their potential. While word of mouth has been around for time immemorial, social networks allow thousands of mouths to speak into thousands of ears simultaneously. If advertising has long comprised a significant part of management companies’ marketing plans, digital media shifts media buying from a mass approach to instant and almost personalized targeting. While direct marketing already offered the possibility of sending a message to a specific group of targets, automated marketing tools now undertake such mailings based on algorithms that increase their effectiveness and relevance.
But how is it that these technological innovations have had such a radical impact on communications practices? Although they affect all economic sectors without prejudice, the major disruptions at work all resonate with the issues specific to asset management players. Below, we take a closer look at four of them.
Until recently, communications by management companies was mainly handled by third parties that monetized access to final targets. Communications strategies therefore consisted in piggybacking on the media, via the purchase of space or through active press relations, or else in the context of professional gatherings, such as business conferences or trade fairs like Patrimonia. While these practices remain relevant, digital technology also allows management companies to address their audiences directly, without loss and without filters. In short, they can become media outlets themselves. This is particularly crucial at a time when asset managers are looking for a way to access the final target audience of savers, while at the same time robo-advisors attempt to systematise their entire customer journey.
This disintermediation makes it possible to describe audiences and arrive at an unprecedented degree of granular segmentation. For example, a management company may provide a technical point of view on Solvency 2 to the ALM managers of a particular type of mutual company by sending out exclusively to them, content that has been specifically written to reassure, convince or convert them in the context of a sales agreement. The situation is similar as concerns personal investors. The necessary B2C-isation of asset management requires tjat management companies address individuals in terms of their planning needs, rather than by selling them products. However, this so-called ‘mass-customisation’ approach is only possible thanks to the segmentation and quasi-individualisation capabilities that digital marketing strategies offer.
The web is a tremendous sounding board, one of whose key attractions is based on its horizontal quality and decentralization of interactions. As a result, each of a management company’s many audiences, whether they are investors, prospects, distributors, employees, influencers or partners, can become a relay. This results in a previously unimagined potential for ‘viralising’ messages, provided the process is carefully controlled as part of a structured communications plan.
By tracing the itinerary of Internet users and compiling everything that can be measured just as regulations are putting pressure on management companies to better know and profile their clients, digital solutions make assessing the return on investment of a campaign or the cost of acquiring a prospect a snap. Better still, they make it possible to fine-tune and manage a framework in near-real time and so to lend communication strategies a strong tactical dimension.
For all these reasons, the question is no longer whether to implement a digital strategy. Like it or not, already management company already has a digital footprint, if only through the referencing of its site or the messages conveyed on social networks about it. The question is rather how to control this digital life, while a profusion of tools constantly broadens the field of possibilities; how can companies use this new paradigm to become even more visible on the market and further strengthen their penetration.
The answers obviously differ from one management company to another. Solutions will depend at once on a particular company’s strategy, positioning, history and governance. However, there do exist a set of best practices that have proven their worth in other industries, and which can be adapted advantageously to the specificities of management companies.