In Asset Management, Marketing & Distribution Win With Unified Data

Two gears together, representing partnership and teamwork

The marketing and distribution partnership in asset management has, and will, continue to evolve. Technology, digital-first advisors, and business circumstances are all drivers of this evolution.  

A framework for forming a seamless growth engine through uber-alignment of marketing, distribution and data is required to achieve lasting results. This framework consists of:

  1. Establishing one goal and one connected team
  2. Treating prospecting and nurturing as a team sport
  3. Having a centralized and shared data source to win deals and nurture loyalty

Marketing and Distribution: One Goal and One Team

The goal of a successful marketing and sales partnership is to drive profitable growth and retention jointly, based on each function’s expertise. These joint efforts must protect the integrity of their brand.

These efforts are aligned with buyers’ journeys through a shared go-to-market strategy.  The partnership focuses on shared outcomes through programs that are designed to acquire and retain advisors, and grow AUM profitably. Along with shared KPIs, unique sales and marketing KPIs are tailored to each firm’s business needs. In general, there is a desire to eliminate the conflict of attribution, and to eliminate the divisions created by MQLs and SQLs.  

One team does not always imply a combined formal organization. In some of today’s Asset Management firms, distribution and marketing report to the same individual, who is responsible for both functions. An alternative approach consists of establishing agile, cross-functional teams that evolve over time based on product or professional development shifts. 

These teams are in tune with a digital-first buyer who prefers self-service experiences.  They depend on one data source to engage with the same advisors, at the same time, with the same messaging. They are reporting out – and up – as one voice.

As partners, they may be co-located. They’ve identified, developed and applied the same content based on buyer intent. There is a unified workflow – no relay or handoff. Just a seamless customer journey through the buying process to get to a closed deal. 

Prospecting and Nurturing: A Team Sport

A successful team consists of different players who specialize, and are best-in-league, for one thing.  All of those specialties must work collaboratively to win. Scaling distribution to increase AUM works in a similar way.  

When a business works cross-functionally and is aligned around a shared goal, Marketing, Product, Distribution, Data, and Compliance specialists all rally around client acquisition and retention. They should prospect, nurture and close together. Different specialists take the lead at different stages of the advisor-led journey.  

Here’s how it works:

  • The team collectively defines the ideal customer/advisor profile (ICP)to segment and target. The ICP is based on insights from data on existing advisors. 
  • The team then determines, based on product availability, what content should be offered in the nurture process.  
  • The team also determines how content should be personalized and delivered, with relevance to the advisor’s channel of preference.

Communication is more than weekly meetings. It is an hour-by-hour, day-by-day interaction. Teams should actively listen to advisor communications and reflect as a team to determine what response is appropriate. Next-best actions, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can help teams understand how to follow up and close with relevant messaging.  

All team specialists drive through the funnel together using a shared vocabulary and shared metrics. Joint upward reporting is the way forward, and is trending among firms  For example, one high-tech firm is leading the way with its “insane alignment,” and use of cloud computing. Other organizations are questioning the wisdom of MQLs and SQLs.

Using Centralized Data to Win

There is a need for a centralized and shared data source as a requirement for winning with a unified, data-driven growth strategy.  

For decades, data quality and integration have plagued firms  with challenges. As data volume continues to skyrocket, the problems are exacerbated. Data continues to be fragmented, incomplete, and inaccurate, resulting in massive inefficiencies. Delivering an engaging customer experience is only slightly behind operational efficiencies as a priority of asset managers.

Asset Managers are challenged to combine proprietary first-party data, with third-party data sources and achieve the elusive unified, real-time view of an advisor.

Ingesting data into one central advisor data source, cleansing it, and unifying it for segmentation is a great start. Moving from collection to activation quickly in real time, on the channel of advisor preference, enhances the customer experience. 

Platforms that analyze and use AI/ML on that data to determine (and perhaps deliver) next-best engagement on any channel are hallmarks of a next-generation marketing automation platform (MAP). These next gen MAPs enable advisor-led journey orchestration, and allow firms to be  agile enough to react to customer intent.

Uber alignment includes integration of data along with people and processes. A data-driven marketing and distribution powerhouse that is measured by one goal, and accomplished by one team, will deliver profitable AUM growth.

Learn more about Sales and Marketing collaboration at the Spring 2023 SME Forum.

Marianne Hewitt
Marianne Hewitt
Marianne Hewitt, Principal at The Growth Strategy Group, is a recognized thought leader in digital marketing trends and an implementer of marketing programs, practices and organizations. Her career includes Fortune 100 manufacturing, insurance and high tech positions in marketing, sales and IT. Ms. Hewitt is a member of and blogs for the CDP Institute.