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Make Your Website As Smart As Your Wholesalers

Smart Wholesalers

How A Stronger Online Presence Can Help Actively Managed Funds Reduce Selling Cost

Facing increasing pressure on pricing and performance, actively managed mutual funds are focused on ways to enhance the effectiveness of their wholesalers while reducing the overall cost of their sales infrastructure. Many are taking a closer look at ways their websites can help bridge some of the gaps their wholesalers must overcome in a more restrictive, competitive and decentralized selling environment.

According to Morningstar, 35% of US based equity mutual fund and ETF assets were invested in index funds at the end of 2013, up from 17% in 2003. This trend will likely continue as investors are increasingly drawn to the appeal of long-term market performance at significantly lower expense.

In this environment, it is more important than ever for actively managed funds to tell their story to the advisors who sell their products. Yet, just delivering the story has become a lot more difficult as wirehouses have severely restricted wholesaler access to their financial advisors and tens of thousands of advisors have abandoned the wirehouses for small, independent offices scattered across the country.

Creating a Charismatic and Effective Online Presence

One way of increasing the effectiveness of a wholesaling operation, while managing its cost, is building a website that delivers more than just brochureware and stale performance numbers. Here are some things to consider:

Does Your Website Tell Your Story as Well as Your Wholesalers Do?
The quick way to answer this question is to ask your wholesalers if they like the site. Do they send a link to advisors ahead of a meeting and close with it as something for them to follow up on? It is vital to present the “secret sauce” of your active management when advisors visit your website. The website should deliver the exact same talking points your wholesalers use in their presentations, and all the information on the site needs to be current and accurate. Performance numbers should be updated nightly and current holdings should reflect the latest filings.

Does Your Website Work as Hard as Your Internals?
An advisor should be able to book an appointment, download fact sheets, prospectuses and marketing materials instantly on your website. They should also be able to learn about and contact the wholesaler covering their area every time they visit the site.

When mediaman, the German digital marketing agency, relaunched the Mirae Asset USA site in 2014, we made sure to place the ability to contact the wholesale team front and center. Through IP addresses, the site recognizes the location of users and automatically updates all contact information to their regional wholesaler’s photo and information.

Does Your Website Drip?
Your wholesalers know how long it takes and how many “touches” are required to convert a prospect. Does your site help this process along by delivering timely, relevant information and content based on expressed interest of advisors? Does your website or company have a secure area where relevant FINRA approved information can be used as a way to stay connected with prospects?

Creating a log in protected area for advisors creates a resource for sharing relevant information and also allows you to see who is using your site. This allows your team to follow up and to track what information clients are most interested in.

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Actively managed funds and the financial advisors who sell them share a common goal of clearly explaining to investors the value of their services. As indexing continues to put pressure on management and advisory fees, these partners must leverage technology of their own to streamline the sales process.

Think Digital First: Open the Door to Innovation

Digital First

At mediaman, there are legends about clients who think radically about digital.

Our Director of UX once told me that she worked with a (much revered) client in Germany who “felt that digital was the most complicated, so he always started with that.”

Our conversation took place after a project kick-off meeting for a client about to refresh its international corporate websites. The briefing included the new print style guide and a comment from the client on the irony—“you’d think that digital would come first in this day and age.”

This is not a post about design thinking and digital. It is a post about why digital should come first in your communication strategy. It’s about how digital makes you a better thinker and a smarter company.

#DigitalFirst

The beauty of digital is that it is an intimate communication with the audience. While traditional marketing tactics are usually one-to-many, digital is one-to-one. Because of this, digital is often considered the functional aspect of communications; it is the place where the traditional marketing call-to-action, more often than, not sends people.

In my opinion, this is an example of when last is not least. If your campaign has been strong enough to drive people to a digital touchpoint, then this is actually the most important meeting. Another way to think of it: if traditional communication is giving your Crush your phone number, then digital is the First Date.

A communication strategy that begins with thinking about how digital will execute the Big Idea sets the bar for an innovative and intimate campaign. Digital’s one-to-one conversation with the consumer ensures that you are focused on the audience and their experience. Using the lens of what is useful for the audience regarding their preferred digital touchpoints, or even new tools or platforms, opens the door to creativity in the execution.

Too often digital communication strategies, especially social media, look at digital and the customer with a one-directional, or traditional, communication mindset. The audience is not thought of as people with tasks that they are doing online, but rather prospects or fans meant to be distracted, sold to, extract information from, or manipulated (often through puppies, kittens, babies or Star Wars) into promoters (or, if it backfires, haters) of the brand.

Moving digital upstream in the communication process helps your organization get close to your audience. It also helps to craft a message with an inherently authentic Big Idea, since it must have a relevance that speaks deeply to your brand and the broad spectrum of audience members using the digital touchpoints.

For instance, one of our clients, a specialty pharmaceutical company, has a target audience that includes a diverse audience of researchers, primary care physicians, media, career-seekers, and patients. Creating a new, more robust and emotional template for the client’s website resulted in crafting a new home page campaign with rich, unexpected images paired with stories that emphasize the employees’ passion as a source of strength for overcoming obstacles. From the website, this campaign will roll out to other mediums, and is already inspiring other ideas and new touchpoints.

The Takeaway

Where does digital fall in your communication process? If it is a place where information goes to be posted, stored, or referenced, then your website is still acting as a brochure. If there is a call-to-action which the audience is following through on, ask yourself how the brand is putting its best foot forward at each point during that experience.

Another thing to consider is where you and your digital agency begin a project. Our goal at mediaman is to build useful and engaging digital experiences, so we always emphasize beginning with a Discovery Phase. This helps to eradicate or validate assumptions and clearly identify opportunities for the website to work harder or fill gaps. It is a first dialogue with the audience which will enable a larger dialogue to ring true, be effective, and woo your audience.

What are some of the ways that you are—or can be—inspired by your audience to enhance your digital communication strategy? Do you believe that digital should come first? Tell us what you think!