Control your destiny - set a strategy
Firms that have spent the time to think through what their goals are along with the specific steps to achieve them have greater control. Firms must commit to a real growth strategy; otherwise, they will continue to lag the firms that have proactive plans for taking advantage of the opportunities to grow or be discovered.
A strategy must be robust and hold people accountable
- How and what will be measured?
- When and what will you communicate with existing clients and prospects?
- Can you help educate advisors on your specialties?
- Can you assign a dedicated resource to publishing relevant and timely content that’s wired into the market?
- How does your firm define success?
- Will you commit to executing on that strategy and hold individuals accountable?
- Will you commit resources of money and staff appropriate to your size, means and goals?
To grow, and ultimately control their destinies, firms need to create a balance of discipline and resources between the investment side and the marketing side. They need to commit to executing a strategy. For any strategy to work, it isn’t something to try for a while, it needs to be sustained. For firms with a good story to tell, growth is possible if they have a strategy.
Set the course
Firms, large and small, tend to think of their funds as a separate cost or profit center. They may be paying a back-office provider a couple hundred thousand dollars a year while losing money on their funds; so, they don’t want to put any more money into them. Or, they may be managing $5 billion and be very profitable, but they think their funds need to be a standalone profit center.
When funds are too small or new, there may be regulatory reasons why they can’t put their client’s money in a fund. However, they could put money into a separately managed account. When advisors become more comfortable with the fund and the strategy, they could begin to put smaller amounts into the fund.
The firm’s focus should be on growing the business, adding assets, and getting money wherever it can. As it builds more and stronger relationships with advisors, money in the funds will follow.
Steps to take now
As a first step, a firm needs to honestly assess its mindset and strategy – is it working or should you revisit and assess what parts are working and which are not. It’s never too late to change from focusing on the funds to focusing on the firm’s growth overall if necessary. Many smaller or newer funds are not positioned properly for growth or to be discovered because they are not focused on a growth strategy.
Only when activities can be measured can rational decision be made on divert effort and money to new initiatives or expanding/cutting back on others. If other firms are growing, but not yours, research what’s different – and if possible, emulate their successes.
In the short term, it’s important to just pick one or two options you can get your arms around.
Asset management firms can follow the same advice they offer to investors – start small and slow and be disciplined and consistent. To jumpstart your marketing efforts, pick an activity you’re comfortable with and execute it. Some ideas include:
Create content for an industry publication. Publishing one article/month can increase your visibility.
Improve the quality and content of email blasts or add marketing automation to improve lead generation. Make one change and see it through.
Audit how key people in the firm tell your story. Ensure your messages are compelling and consistent. Consider hiring a professional to facilitate a branding/messaging workshop.
Advisors recommend dollar cost averaging for investors just starting out because it’s simple and systematic. The same is true for your initial marketing efforts. Like DCA the real benefits of any marketing effort are realized over time. Be repetitive, disciplined and consistent. If you have a good story to tell, it will come out.
Stay tuned for our third installment: Must I Have a Digital Presence?
The full report is available for download here.