As we open our shiny new 2024 calendars, the mood amongst marketing leaders seems a little more cheerful. Having held back or even given up budget in 2023, priority projects are moving forward once more. The need to get ahead in this highly competitive market can’t wait.
In this environment, we see marketing leaders focusing on three overarching objectives:
Awareness: being known for the strategies and qualities that matter to clients
Ensuring focus and relevance in our marketing and communications.
How to measure: brand health, reach and awareness
Engagement: delivering the right content in the right style in the right places
Breaking down internal silos to surface the data and insights which will inform content that genuinely engages target clients.
How to measure: targeted client engagement, content effectiveness
Experience: defining and delivering a consistent and high-quality approach for every client touchpoint
Developing systems that support the moments that matter to clients.
How to measure: connecting marketing activity to the sales pipeline and ultimately, revenue
So what does this mean in practice for our key marketing stakeholders? What are their focus areas for 2024? Leaders of each marketing discipline will have their own priorities but common focus areas exist across these three objectives.
Heads of Brand are seeking an authentic, consistent and measurable brand presence
- Bring character, conviction and consistency to our brand expression, and articulate clearly how it delivers something better and/or different to clients and prospects.
- Ensure new embedded capabilities under our corporate positioning (e.g. private markets expertise, organically or through acquisition) are authentically rooted in the brand and business.
- Determine the role and prominence of sustainability – either in our brand, or as a capability available for relevant clients – whilst avoiding accusations of greenwashing if adjustments are needed that depart from a previously held position.
- Identify the right brand association and budget for strategic sponsorships. Targeting specific audiences from community alignment on corporate values to big sports activation programmes.
- Put in place a reliable, repeatable solution to measure brand health and engagement across target markets and client segments without being a patchwork of providers/methodologies.
- Define and cement a clear sense of our internal culture to elevate our efficiency and competitive advantage.
- Align culture at the corporate and product level in the face of increased scrutiny from clients. A strong culture is the bedrock of consistent, high quality client experience.
- Work with internal AI tools to deliver a more consistent visual identity. Ensure a distinct look and feel for all image selections and how they are treated creatively to make sure they are uniquely, identifiably our own.
Heads of Content are focused on aligning business objectives and clients’ interests
- Empower the editorial committee to have teeth to ensure asset managers align content strategy to the brand strategy and business objectives. We should only opine on subjects where we have genuine authority and a commercial imperative.
- Invest in the knowledge and skills to comment intelligently on the full range of products and services we offer, including alternative and sustainable investments, to an increasingly well-informed audience.
- Tell shorter, more engaging stories in social channels.
- Ensure our writers immerse themselves in the needs of their target audience and write engaging stories that have their interests in mind. This is very different from the agenda (and appetite for complexity) of the investment team.
- Make sure writers engage in the channels where audiences are consuming content. Hand in hand with content creation, content distribution should be focused on the habits of the audience.
- Build up relevant local knowledge to navigate variations in local culture, language and client concerns, especially relating to sustainable investment and different regulatory standards.
- If using AI to draft copy, ensure the content team are skilled as effective prompt engineers and value-adding editors. Regardless of source, all content output should bear the mark of our brand tone of voice and align with our priorities and messaging.
Heads of Client Programmes are building more accurate, nuanced and iterative personas and touchpoints
- Engage with distribution colleagues to build out the personas of specific clients and segments where we want to nurture deeper relationships – to understand their needs and pain points and to define how we can help.
- Recognise that simple demographics are no longer sufficient to define client types on complicated, nuanced topics such as sustainability and responsible investing.
- To improve, invite feedback, measure effectiveness and maintain budget for experimentation in our messaging and content and our mix of media and techniques.
- Understand client habits and needs to map the relative strength of the key touchpoints they have with the business across sales, marketing and client services. We can identify weaknesses and deviation points in the journey in terms of standards and consistency of brand experience.
- Balance global programmes with local input to ensure efficiency and nuance in our output.
Heads of Digital are prioritising how they prove value and integrate automation and personalisation
- It seems obvious and, in some ways, dated, but we still need a real focus on proving the value of digital investment. That means making sure we know what the objectives are for each property, channel, campaign and piece of content, having the measurement framework in place and challenging what has been done to date. And it needs to be collectively agreed across sales, marketing and product.
- Build a marketing architecture that delivers data and content across all channels, in a 'golden source' and repeatable structure. That means leveraging a composable and headless approach that reflects the firm’s size and complexity.
- Get the platform in place for automation and personalisation; healthy data, the right tools and journeys that engage. This leads to...
- ...being ready for AI to help do more with less. We see three routes for AI in investment marketing right now:
- Generative - existing tools to help with content and creative generation
- Vendor - leverage the tools built into Salesforce and Microsoft
- Private - creating private language models for use within the organisation
- Recognise social as a standout channel. We should audit what we have and implement the people, process and tools to authentically engage.
- Remember the carbon footprint of digital advertising and websites, moving on from the mantra that just because it's not print doesn’t mean it's automatically 'green' (particularly as relates to e-waste, energy consumption and scope 3 emissions).
- Consider the operating model/team structure for marketing; centralised expertise, channel experts, funnel-based roles. Identify what is the best structure for our business to drive growth and retention driven by consistent and high-quality client experience.
Heads of Product Marketing integrating investors’ needs, building compelling narratives
- Align our product priorities and how we talk about them with what investors need. It isn’t just about our philosophy and process, or the strength of our research - it’s about how your offering can help investors in the context of current risks and concerns.
- Tell stories. We need to show our expertise in action and what it can deliver – which is so much more effective than just talking about what we do.
- Assess sustainable investing products in terms of their commercial viability, regulatory context and investor needs. Define them in terms of impact – what are they designed to deliver?
- Create successful launch strategies that will help us maintain efficiency and consistency across regions and alignment to the core brand whilst allowing for differing appetites and product types by region and client type.
Ultimately responsible for all of this, the CMO must ensure the right balance and blend of technology, tools, talent and indeed the techniques – assessing and measuring what is working across the different channels to deliver on objectives.
The demand for technical skill and influence has never been greater for the ultimate success of CMOs, who are increasingly being assessed themselves on these three key areas of brand awareness, client engagement and the connection of marketing and sales to deliver high quality client experience – and therefore growth in sales and revenue.
Marketing leaders of all types will have diverse opportunities to capitalise on and challenges to overcome in 2024. We at White Marble look forward to our continued partnerships with clients and to helping leaders achieve new success in the coming year.